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Ferrari dominated qualifying once again as they locked out the front row for the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix with championship leader Sebastian Vettel snatching pole position from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the dying moments of Saturday’s action.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took third place on the grid, while defending world champion Lewis Hamilton could only manage fourth as he bailed out of his final flying lap in Q3 in Shanghai.
Red Bull locked out the next row on the grid—Max Verstappen taking fifth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo—to set up a potentially thrilling race start on Sunday.
Vettel’s time of one minute, 31.095 seconds saw him head Raikkonen by just 0.087 seconds, but he was over half a second up on Bottas and the rest.
Here’s a look at the full standings:
Formula 1 @F1
INITIAL CLASSIFICATION (Q3) Vettel pips Raikkonen right at the end to take pole, with a new lap record 💪 #F1 #Quali #ChineseGP 🇨🇳 https://t.co/wAYMA8l2fB
Mercedes Second Best to Ferrari
Vettel headed a Ferrari one-two in the final practice session on Saturday and looked faster than the Mercedes duo for most of the day.
There was brief moment when Hamilton and Bottas found some pace to finish first and second in Q2, as noted by BBC 5 Live’s Jennie Gow:
Jennie Gow @JennieGow
Did someone just turn up the Mercedes? What a couple of stunning laps from their drivers. #F1
But they were on the back foot again from the off in Q3 and Hamilton aborted his final lap after a couple of mistakes when it was clear he would not improve on his 1:31.675.
Raikkonen had provisional pole and managed to improve his time slightly with his final lap. But he was edged out by Vettel as the German took pole by less than tenth of a second.
Ricciardo Just Makes It Out
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Ricciardo had an engine failure in the final practice session on Saturday and it was a race against time to get his car ready for qualifying.
Work was still going on the Australian’s car as Q1 got under way but he eventually got out just in time and put together a single timed lap of 1:33.877 to just make it into Q2.
A 1:32.688 then saw him into Q3, where he was able to secure sixth place on the grid for Sunday, a very impressive day’s work given his problems in practice.
Verstappen just beat him into fifth and the pair will look to take advantage of any slips from Mercedes at the start on Sunday as they look to get in the mix for the podium.
Alonso Misses Out on Top-10 Shootout
McLaren tried their level best to get Fernando Alonso into Q3. Late in Q2 the Spaniard was given a brief tow by his team-mate, Stoffel Vandoorne, and crossed the line in ninth place with just moments of the second qualifying session remaining.
However, there was nothing Alonso could do as four cars behind him topped his time to push him down into 13th.
Per Channel 4 F1, it was another hammer blow for McLaren as their woes continued in the 2018 season:
Channel 4 F1® @C4F1
Another tough day of qualifying for McLaren as Alonso and Vandoorne both miss out on Q3 ☹️ Also dropping out of the top 10 are the Haas of Magnussen, Force India’s Ocon and Toro Rosso’s Hartley ⏱️ #ChineseGP https://t.co/PeviHVxyyg
Kevin Magnussen also surprisingly missed out on Q3 despite having shown excellent pace all day in his Haas.