Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff says China has "great opportunities" — Interview

Mercedes head to head

For the second race in a row this F1 season, Scuderia Ferrari will be starting in the front row as Sebastian Vettel clinched the pole at the Chinese Grand Prix, followed by Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen will start on the first row in Shanghai.

Hamilton has an impressive record in China and is determined to claw back at least some of his 17-point deficit to Vettel in the overall standings after the German powered to victory in the opening two races in Australia and Bahrain.

His title rival Lewis Hamilton could do no better fourth, with the Briton who had struggled throughout the session, aborting his final flying lap to end up behind even Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton will be the favorite despite missing the pole.

Red Bull's vehicle came alive in the second half of the race after the team pitted both cars for fresh tyres under a Safety auto period.

The Brit finished fifth on track but moved up to fourth after a 10-second penalty was applied to Red Bull's Max Verstappen following his collision with Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes staying loyal to the softs with a longer first stint on the agenda for Sunday. I would say on my side but also us as a team, we've been underperforming, ' added Hamilton.

"I still believe we are the best team with the potential to win races and fight for this world championship".

Hamilton was 0.58secs off pole with Mercedes struggling for grip in the corners with the cool air in Shanghai not helping. Mercedes look to be quick but Ferrari aren't too far behind. The Ferrari driver finished half a second ahead of both Bottas and Hamilton at a track where, until yesterday, you had to go back to 2011 for the last time a non-Mercedes vehicle occupied the front slot on the grid.

"They were just too fast on the fresh tyres so I didn't want to compromise my race to the guys behind but then obviously he did a mistake, he locked up, which happens".

But following frantic work by his Red Bull crew, the Australian emerged from his garage with only minutes of Q1 remaining.

The rest of the top 10 is completed by Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean. The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were in 13th and 14th, with Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso in 15th.

Last year Vettel, who had problems using Verstappen, explained the crash was needless. "But I think it's also a track where you just need to get in and find that sweet spot and if you are a little bit out then easily you drop a little bit of time, so I wouldn't be surprised tomorrow if that gap disappears and it will be a very tight race".

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