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April 15, 2018

Vettel snatches pole position in Ferrari one-two


April 15, 2018

SHANGHAI: Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel pumped in a stunning late lap to snatch pole position from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari dominated Chinese Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

The German lapped the 5.4-km Shanghai circuit in one minute, 31.095 seconds — a track record — to pip his Finnish team-mate by a mere 0.087 seconds and take his 52nd career pole.

Title rival Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth, ending the session with a time slower even than third-placed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas after aborting his final flying lap on a chilly afternoon.

Saturday’s pole was Vettel’s second in three races this season and Ferrari’s first in Shanghai since Brazilian Rubens Barrichello started the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix from the front in 2004.

The Italian glamour team last won in China in 2013.

“Thank you guys, great qualifying, great car,” said Vettel, who also started from pole in Bahrain last weekend, over the team radio.

Raikkonen locked out the front row for Ferrari for the second time in succession.

The Finn had led the timesheets as the drivers embarked on their final flying laps and appeared set to clinch pole position after going fastest in the opening two sectors.

Vettel, who put in an error-strewn first attempt, then pulled out just enough through the final corners to deny the 38-year-old what would have been his first pole since last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Bottas’s time was more than half a second slower than Vettel’s. Vettel has a 17-point lead over Hamilton after winning the opening two races of the season. The Briton had gone into the weekend determined to claw back at least some of his deficit to the German at a track that Mercedes have dominated in recent years.

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