Vettel wins China F1 GP pole, Hamilton 4th

Vettel wins China F1 GP pole, Hamilton 4th”

"The auto was fantastic and just kept getting better".

"Nothing really happened", he said, when asked how he had lost out in the final sector. I was beating myself up but I knew if I had a better lap I could do it'.

Both Mercedes drivers struggled in cool and windy conditions during qualifying, finishing the session in third and fourth - over half a second off Sebastian Vettel's pole position time.

However, when the race-pace of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes was compared this weekend, the difference in time was insignificant, with all signs showing that it will be another extremely competitive race. "I just need to analyse everything and try to come back stronger for the next race".

"I am confident I can stay where I am, but moving forwards is going to be tough", Hamilton, 33, said.

"I was happy with the whole lap", said Vettel who finished just 0.087 seconds clear of Raikkonen.

Despite his current difficulties though, Hamilton only finds himself nine points behind Vettel in the championship, after the Ferrari driver could only finish eighth following his clash with Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz was ninth for Renault with Sergey Sirotkin an encouraging 10th for former champions Williams, who are enduring their worst start to a season since 2013 and are the only one of the 10 teams yet to score a point.

"No, if we would swing like this and say this is the end of the era, it would be not the right mindset".

"The amusing thing about being outperformed on Saturday is that you are the lion that is just waiting to jump on its prey", he added. With one auto on a one-stop and one vehicle on a two-stop, the world champions could regain some control over the race if they are still stuck behind the Ferraris at the end of the first lap.

Verstappen's teammate Daniel Ricciardo was on the Brit's side, saying his younger Red Bull colleague got too "greedy".

Mechanics were seen frantically snapping major pieces of the car's body back into place as the clock ticked down, and the Australian driver tore out onto the track with only about a minute to spare. "We thought coming into today that we would be fighting for pole position but it was definitely out of reach today. That will be fun".

Vettel and Ferrari ended Mercedes' six year reign as pole sitters at the Shanghai International Circuit in dominant fashion by making it a Ferrari 1-2. "It's obviously cooler. It's a different track, so I think, honestly, the first two races have been quite different, so it's not that straightforward to predict the third one".

"I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow that gap disappears and its a very tight race".

What's more, all three teams were neck-and-neck when it came to the longer runs during practice, with only a couple of tenths between their race pace averages.

Force India will be delighted as their experienced driver Sergio Perez qualified P8.

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