Chinese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton takes career pole 63 ahead of Sebastian Vettel
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 8, 2017 Updated: 3:42 AM
SHANGHAI, China -- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took care of business by taking his 63 career pole position as the battle between Mercedes and Ferrari continues in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
The Jedi Knight of F1 was quick with his silver lightsaber so quick that he beat the lap record held by Michael Schumacher since the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in 2004. Hamilton's 63rd career pole puts him only 2 away from hero Ayrton Senna on the all-time poles list.
"I’m really happy with today and super grateful for the huge effort the team had put in to keep us in the fight. It’s more exciting than ever right now. We’re really fighting these guys out there and that’s what racing’s all about. It pushed you to raise the bar every time you go out, which I love. A big thank you to all the fans too. There were a lot of British flags out there which is great to see," said Hamilton.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel who finished second ahead of Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas in third by just 0.001s.
"I was happy with my lap, even if I braked a bit too early for the last corner, hit the kerb hard and had to wait for the car to settle. That’s where I lost a bit of time, but not all the gap to Lewis. There wasn’t much more I could have gained. So this result on a totally different track, with conditions significantly cooler than Melbourne, is definitely good news. The confidence is there, I trust what the car is telling me and she seems to respond to what I tell her. It’s a good match but we need to improve further," said Vettel.
Earlier in the third and final practice session Ferrari ended with a strong one-two finish but that was not to be as Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for fourth just 0.462s off Hamilton.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth just 1.355s off from the front. Williams Felipe Massa was sixth just 0.474s ahead of Renault's Nico Hulkenberg in seventh, the Hulk did not attempt a final run in the closing minutes indicating that the team was satisfied with where they were. Force India's of Sergio Perez finished eighth with Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat in ninth.
Massa's Williams teammate Lance Stroll qualified tenth and was only 0.713s off his teammate, while Kvyat's teammate Carlos Sainz qualified 11th just missing the top ten by 0.060s, while Hass F1 driver Kevin Magnussen ended his day 12th, ahead of McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso in 13th.
"I was flat-out and pushed like an animal. We were pessimistic going into qualifying after our FP3 performance had been very uncompetitive and we’d felt we had nothing left, but in quali the car picked up some pace and we were able to make it into Q2 and get 13th, which was a nice surprise," said Alonso.
Sauber's Marcus Ericsson finished 14th ahead of teammate Antonio Giovinazzi, in 15th after losing the rear of his car exiting the last corner which sent his car flying into the wall which caused the first qualifying session to come to an early end. Giovinazzi was uninjured but the night crew will be hard at work repairing the car for tomorrow's race.
McLaren-Honda's Stoffel Vandoorne took 16th ahead of Haas F1's Romain Grosjean and Renault's Jolyon Palmer in 17th and 18th after they were penalized for failing to slow for the double yellow flags during the Giovinazzi crash.
Max Verstappen found himself in unfamiliar territory when he finished 19th due to a loss in power caused by a spark plug issue during Q1 while Force India's Esteban Ocon qualified 20th.
"A bit of rain tomorrow will definitely help us but I think even in the wet it will be tough to challenge Ferrari and Mercedes. We need to concentrate on what we have and do the best we can. I will go home tonight, get some good rest and sleep, then come to the track ready to attack on what will hopefully be a wet track," said Verstappen.