Thursday, 26 April, 2018

Chinese Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel on pole with track record

Red Bull head to head Red Bull head to head
Isaac Mcdaniel | 16 April, 2018, 01:44

Mr. Hamilton was Top of the time sheets on Friday, but the MercedesAMG cars could not answer Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) in qualifying with Sebastian Vettel leading a front-row lockout ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for the 2nd weekend running.

The Briton lapped the 5.4 km Shanghai International Circuit in one minute, 33.482 seconds in the afternoon session, beating Raikkonen to the top spot by a mere 0.007 seconds.

No driver in the sport has failed to clinch the title after winning the opening three rounds, and Vettel is poised to complete the first part of the bargain after edging out his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for the second week in succession.

Raikkonen, 38, who was last on pole in Monaco previous year, lost out by just 0.087s, with Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas a staggering half a second off the pace in third as the reigning world champions struggled to get the ultrasoft tyre to work.

Lewis Hamilton's hard start to the 2018 F1 season continued during qualification for the Chinese Grand Prix as he ended up fourth on the grid.

Vettel has won here only once before in 2009 for Red Bull despite having secured pole three times.

Verstappen was pushing through the field after Red Bull had pitted both its drivers for fresh soft tyres during a mid-race safety auto, a strategy that his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo converted to victory.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fifth quickest in both sessions, closing in to end the day 0.341 seconds off Hamilton's pace.

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The Dutchman was pushing through the field and fighting Vettel for third place when he made a late move at the hairpin on lap 43 - clashing with his Ferrari rival and pitching both into a spin.

Wolff also defended his driver Valtteri Bottas, after the Finn came in for criticism from some sections of the media after the Bahrain Grand Prix for lacking a "killer instinct".

"We are only two races in, but I arrived here thinking I want to win the next 19", Hamilton said. "To have that much of a gap (over Mercedes), it is a surprise". The vehicle was unbelievable and it just got better. "I think in terms of speed, all good, but I don't know why in the races maybe wanting it a bit too much and recovering from all the stuff that happened before, but it's a bit hard to really judge that now".

But while Ricciardo's led him to the race win, Verstappen's saw him clash with Lewis Hamilton and Vettel.

"I had no intention to resist, as it was clear with Daniel also that they were too fast on the fresher tyres".

Red Bull chose to pit both Ricciardo and Verstappen behind the safety vehicle, while their rivals stayed out.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez.

Vettel and Raikkonen reinforced Ferrari's dominant form in final practice by setting the pace in Q1, with Vettel a full 0.750s quicker than the leading Mercedes of Bottas in third. On harder compound tyres, there may yet be a chance for Mercedes to get the better of Ferrari.

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