Seabstian Vettel's pole leaves Lewis Hamilton trailing at Chinese Grand Prix

Those errors left Hamilton 1.039s shy of Vettel and 0.296s off teammate Bottas, who set the third fastest time on an ultra-soft tyre run earlier in the session.

Mercedes lacked performance - Hamilton was 0.58secs off pole and fourth behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas. "The auto was really unbelievable, just kept getting better".

The German's flying lap ensured back-to-back front row lockouts for Ferrari for the first time in 12 years despite Vettel admitting to being a bit wobbly on some turns in cold qualifying conditions.

"So I knew that I had a little bit more and obviously in the last lap I got it all together and [was] very happy that when I crossed the line I was looking up to see the screen and I saw something green, which is usually good, and a little bit of purple".

In a carbon copy of Bahrain qualifying, Raikkonen found himself on provisional pole but Vettel produced the goods with his final Q3 lap to clinch top spot by 0.087 seconds.

Although Verstappen recovered to finish fourth on track, a 10-second time penalty for his clash with Vettel dropped him to fifth in the final standings behind the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who had a subdued afternoon.

"We spent a bit of time during the first session today working on the setup of the vehicle in order to understand it better", explained Verstappen. "The pace just wasn't there".

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"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". At the moment it is not going the way I like of course, but does it mean I have to calm down?

Vettel, like Hamilton a four-time world champion, has won the first two races of the season to build up a 17-point lead over the world champion.

In fact, the Shanghai qualifying broke Mercedes' record of starting on pole for the past six years. "The amusing thing about being outperformed on Saturday is that you are the lion that is just waiting to jump on its prey".

Verstappen was pushing through the field after Red Bull had pitted both its drivers for fresh soft tyres during a mid-race safety vehicle, a strategy that his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo converted to victory. "We definitely were not doing that for the cameras", said a clearly relieved Ricciardo. I think he can do the same today. "That will be fun".

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. They are two extremes like we had in Bahrain and I think this is what happened.

"Tomorrow it's expected to be a lot warmer, so I hope we have done the right thing set-up-wise and we have better pace in the race than Ferrari".

"Really pleased. It was a tight session but I think again a great result for the team".

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