Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Formula One teammate Sebastian Vettel will start from second and third positions on the grid behind Lewis Hamilton for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
Hamilton continued Mercedes’ dominant start to the season by capturing pole position at a rainy qualifying on Saturday – his third pole of the season – and putting himself in line to win a third race in a row for the first time in his career.
Hamilton set the fastest time in qualifying at 1 minute, 53.860 seconds at Shanghai International Circuit, more than half a second clear of Ricciardo (1:54.455). The Australian again outqualified Vettel (1:54.960), the four-time defending world champion.
Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg made mistakes on his final two flying laps and qualified fourth, in front of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
It was the 34th pole of Hamilton’s career, moving him into fourth place on the all-time list, one ahead of former world champion Jim Clark and Alain Prost. By moving one clear of Clark, Hamilton has the most poles of any British driver in F1 history.
Former world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button both missed the final shootout of the wet qualifying session.
Raikkonen, racing in front of new Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci for the first time, finished 11th fastest in Q2 ahead of Button and Kevin Magnussen in the other McLaren.
Williams qualified two drivers in the top 10 – Felipe Massa in sixth and Valtteri Bottas in seventh – a vast improvement for the team after it struggled in wet conditions in qualifying in Australia and Malaysia due to its relative lack of downforce.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg qualified in eighth, followed by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, who took his team into third qualifying for the first time this season and will start from 10th.
Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado did not start qualifying due to an engine problem that cut short his final practice round in the morning.
Conditions are expected to be better for Sunday’s race, with no rain and cool temperatures forecast.