Apr 13, 2013, 3:12 AM EDT
Lewis Hamilton will start the Chinese Grand Prix from pole position having finished on top in today’s qualifying session.
The British driver claimed pole position in just his third race for Mercedes, setting a time of 1:34.484 to finish ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
Much of qualifying saw little action out on the track as teams opted to save their tires due to the high wear rate in China. However, when it came to the final runs in Q3, Mercedes appeared to have the upper hand. It could have been far better for the German team though, with a mistake from Nico Rosberg meaning that he could only manage to qualify fourth.
Felipe Massa could not repeat his practice form, qualifying fifth ahead of Romain Grosjean in P6. Daniel Ricciardo starred for Toro Rosso, getting into Q3 for only the second time in his career, and he will start the race in seventh.
Having opted to save their tires, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten on the prime tire, with the latter two drivers failing to set a time.
The stand-out moment during qualifying was a car failure for Mark Webber. Due to a problem with the fuel system, the Red Bull driver was forced to pull over at the side of the track during Q2, costing him a place in the final shootout. The Australian driver is provisionally set to start P14, although he could be excluded from qualifying if he cannot supply a fuel sample.
At the back, Williams continued to struggle, qualifying 15th and 17th, whilst Vergne and Gutierrez failed to match the top ten exploits of their teammates. Marussia will be pleased to have outqualified nearest rivals Caterham.
It appears that strategy could be king in China, meaning that all of the top ten could be in the running for the podium in the race tomorrow, and Webber will be determined to make up for this disappointment. However, Lewis Hamilton is best poised to take his first win for Mercedes from pole position, but it will now be hard for the team to write off their 2013 championship chances.
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