Vettle snatches pole at Chinese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel pumped in a stunning late lap to snatch pole position from team mate Kimi Raikkonen as Ferrari dominated the Chinese Grand Prix qualifiers.

The German lapped the 5-point-4 kilometre Shanghai circuit in one minute 31-point-09 seconds — a track record — to pip his Finnish team mate, and earned his 52nd career pole.

Title rival Lewis Hamilton qualified fourth fastest.

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.

Kimi Raikkonen had led the time sheets 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.

Vettel has a 17-point lead over Hamilton after winning the opening two races of the season.

The Briton, second in Australia and third in Bahrain, 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.

The 33-year-old, like Vettel a four-times champion, has taken an unprecedented five wins in Shanghai but his chances of a sixth have taken a knock.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified fifth ahead of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who made it out on track just in time, with the former champions working furiously to change his engine after it blew in the final practice session.