Vettel beats Raikkonen to pole in Ferrari 1-2

However, neither Mercedes nor Ferrari reacted to the safety auto with their second drivers, leaving Lewis Hamiton, who was running third, and Kimi Raikkonen - fifth after the safety vehicle pitted - to struggle to the end on used rubber.

"Ferrari have definitely improved over the weekend - maybe they didn't quite show their true pace yesterday - but today they were rapid".

Vettel said: "I didn't see him until late and left a bit of room".

"Maybe we didn't get the tyres absolutely flawless for the lap but I don't think it would have been enough for us to beat the Ferraris", he said.

"The vehicle was really wonderful, it just kept getting better", he added.

"That was just bad", said former F1 champion Nico Rosberg of the incident.

Reflecting on the performance, Hamilton admitted it was a case of underperforming on his side of the Mercedes garage, and that a solution needs to be found quickly if he's going to fight for a fifth title.


The gap is likely to add to consternation in the Mercedes camp that has been building since Vettel took the first two races of the season in Australia and Bahrain.

"It's not going to be easy to beat Kimi and Sebastian tomorrow, they're the quickest on the straights too, so overtaking will be tough".

"No, if we would swing like this and say this is the end of the era, it would be not the right mindset". But again this can happen to you also if you've done 300 races. Actually, I started to appreciate the hard days so much more because they make us progress and understand our auto better and the team has gone from strength to strength by learning from these days.

It was a phenomenal effort from the Red Bull team to get Daniel Ricciardo out for qualifying after an engine failure in the final free practice session.

"Obviously that was really close. I don't know if we can challenge, we were half-a-second behind today". He has won five times in China, including a year ago, and has taken pole six times on the Chinese circuit. "I think a two-stop would be more aggressive, and aggressive is always more fun so that would be the plan A for now". "It is a track where you just need to get in and find that sweet spot". They should be able to respond with a good result considering they've had three double top-five finishes in the last four races here, but the pressure is undoubtedly on after such a shaky start to the season.

The rest of the top ten sees Hulkenberg in the Renault in seventh, the Force India of Perez in eighth, the second Renault driven by Sainz in ninth and Romain Grosjean for Haas in 10th.

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