Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

QUALIFYING: Vettel edges Raikkonen as Ferrari lock out front row

QUALIFYING: Vettel edges Raikkonen as Ferrari lock out front row

After a strong run in Q2 to start the race on the soft tyre, when it came to both runs on the Ultrasoft tyres in Q3 Mercedes was unable to extract the maximum potential of the W09 to beat Ferrari's on raw pace.

Ferrari have now locked-out the front row for a second consecutive race and Wolff admitted that Mercedes are on the back foot.

Saturday's pole was Vettel's second in three races this season and Ferrari's first in Shanghai since Brazilian Rubens Barrichello started the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix from the front in 2004.

Mercedes were half a second slower than the Prancing Horse and Hamilton finished fourth, behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

"It should be hotter tomorrow, which could turn everything on its head". It's a long race and that could make quite a difference.

Ferrari has not won a season title in 11 years with Kimi Raikkonen champion in 2007.

Bottas was asked if he was surprised by the Ferrari advantage.

Lewis Hamilton has admitted "it was a hard day" for his Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team after he qualified fourth for the Chinese Grand Prix.

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"We thought coming into today that we'd be fighting for the pole position".

The Prancing Horse replicated their advantage, with Raikkonen and Vettel setting an impressive pace on the more durable rubber. "Their qualifying performance they put one on top and we really have something to think about". "We were quicker in the last race [Bahrain] but they were able to hold on and will probably do the same tomorrow".

Lewis Hamilton has won this race more than anyone. "The auto was unbelievable and just kept getting better".

Raikkonen and Vettel were both on course to go quicker, but they aborted their laps, meaning the top four drivers will start Sunday's race on the softs.

"Not yet where I wanted to be", said Vettel.

Having labeled last year's temperamental vehicle "a diva" at times, Wolff admits there are similar tendencies with the 2018 auto as it has a small working window when it can access very high performance levels.

Max Verstappen was best of the rest in fifth, ahead of Red Bull team mate Ricciardo, with Nico Hulkenberg to start seventh for the third time this season in the Renault.

"Thank you guys, great qualifying, great auto", said Vettel, who also started from pole in Bahrain last weekend, over the team radio.

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