Chinese GP: Vettel leads Ferrari 1-2 as Mercedes struggles

Sebastian Vettel pipped Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen to pole position for the Chinese Grand prix by less than a tenth of a second.

Chinese GP: Vettel leads Ferrari 1-2 as Mercedes struggles
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18
Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso STR13 Honda
Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-18
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL33
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+
Lance Stroll, Williams FW41
Sergey Sirotkin, Williams FW41
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-18 Ferrari
Lance Stroll, Williams FW41

Raikkonen looked set to top qualifying after setting the fastest time on the first runs in Q3, and was ahead of his teammate in the first two sectors of his final lap.

But Raikkonen's slow pace in the final sector gave Vettel a shot and the German set the best final sector time of the session to snatch pole by 0.087s.

Both Ferrari and Mercedes drivers also set their Q2 times using the soft Pirellis, so will start the race on that compound while the rest of the top 10 will all use ultrasofts.

The Mercedes drivers never looked to be a serious pole position threat, with neither Valtteri Bottas nor Lewis Hamilton able to improve on their first-run times in Q3 and both having to abandon their final runs.

Bottas was third, half-a-tenth faster than Hamilton, with the latter only 0.12s faster than the lead Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth after joining the first segment of qualifying late thanks to a turbo problem in free practice, lapping 0.152s slower than his teammate.

Nico Hulkenberg was best-of-the rest for Renault. 1.473s off the pace, ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz.

Romain Grosjean was slowest in Q3, ending qualifying tenth and 0.036s off Sainz's Renault.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was eliminated in Q2 for the first time this season after a poor middle sector on his final lap prevented him from improving on his first-run time.

This allowed Sainz to relegate him to 11th place by 16 thousandths of a second, with Force India's Esteban Ocon not far behind.

The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne gave each other a tow on the long back straight, but it wasn't enough to haul the Renault-powered cars into Q2 and left them 13th and 14th respectively.

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley was slowest in Q2 and ended up 15th, just under three tenths slower than Vandoorne.

Sergey Sirotkin was knocked out in Q1 at the last minute when Sainz jumped up the order lap and pushed the Williams driver down to 16th place in the dying moments of the first stage of qualifying.

The Russian had looked to be a serious Q2 threat, but failed to match his personal best pace in the first sector and ended up half-a-tenth slower than Hartley.

Bahrain GP hero Pierre Gasly was 17th fastest, giving away enough time in the middle sector relative to his previous best to fail to make the cut, admitting after the session that overnight set-up changes had made life more difficult for him today.

Lance Stroll, in the second Williams, was 18th fastest ahead of the Sauber of Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc survived a spin after losing the rear on the power exiting the final left-hander on his second run to relegate teammate Marcus Ericsson to last on their final runs thanks to the Swede's poor final sector pace.

Ericsson has been summoned by the stewards for an investigation into not slowing under the yellow flags thrown for Leclerc's spin.

ClaDriverChassisEngineTimeGap
1 germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 1'31.095  
2 finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 1'31.182 0.087
3 finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 1'31.625 0.530
4 united_kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 1'31.675 0.580
5 netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 1'31.796 0.701
6 australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 1'31.948 0.853
7 germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 1'32.532 1.437
8 mexico Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 1'32.758 1.663
9 spain Carlos Sainz Jr.  Renault Renault 1'32.819 1.724
10 france Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 1'32.855 1.760
11 denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 1'32.986 1.891
12 france Esteban Ocon  Force India Mercedes 1'33.057 1.962
13 spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren Renault 1'33.232 2.137
14 belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Renault 1'33.505 2.410
15 new_zealand Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso Honda 1'33.795 2.700
16 russia Sergey Sirotkin  Williams Mercedes 1'34.062 2.967
17 france Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Honda 1'34.101 3.006
18 canada Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 1'34.285 3.190
19 monaco Charles Leclerc  Sauber Ferrari 1'34.454 3.359
20 sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 1'34.914 3.819
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