Shanghai: Lewis Hamilton put in a storming lap in treacherous conditions to claim a commanding pole position for today’s Chinese Grand Prix, the Briton’s effort ensuring Mercedes maintained their stranglehold on qualifying this season.
Hamilton lapped the soaking wet 5.4 km Shanghai Circuit in one minute 53.860 seconds, to eclipse Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who led Sebastian Vettel in what was the reigning world champion team’s best combined qualifying result of the season so far.
Ricciardo’s yesterday’s result marked the third time in four races that the Australian — whose exclusion from his home race was upheld by the sport’s appeals court earlier this week — has outqualified the reigning world champion.
World championship leader Nico Rosberg, whose best time was over a second slower than his teammate’s benchmark, will start fourth.
“It is so slippery out there, the conditions — trying to find the grip, not making mistakes on your lap and really putting it together,” Hamilton said. “It was a tough session. I really enjoyed it. The car was feeling great. I hope that we can follow through tomorrow.”
Reversal of fortunes
In a reversal of fortunes from Bahrain a fortnight ago, when Hamilton blew his last qualifying attempt allowing teammate Rosberg to cruise to pole unchallenged, it was the German who made a series of mistakes in the dying stages of the session in China. Rosberg went wide on his penultimate attempt before wrecking his final lap with a spin while exiting the last corner.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso set the fifth fastest time even as teammate Kimi Raikkonen failing to make it through to the top-ten shootout after struggling for grip. Behind Alonso, the two Williams cars of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas ended the session sixth and seventh ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Chinese GP: Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD 2, 12:30