Shanghai: Lewis Hamilton gave himself the perfect opportunity to complete a hat-trick of titles in China as the Briton produced a master-class to qualify for pole position. The Mercedes driver was more than a second faster from Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in P2, and a second clear of his team-mate Nico Rosberg, who will start from P4.
It marked Mecerdes' fourth straight pole of the season and third in four races for the 29-year-old former McLaren driver. Going into Sunday's race, the 2008 World Champion is in second position, 11 pionts behind pace-setter Rosberg, in the drivers' title race.
Under a spell of persistent rain, qualifying session for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix started with teams jostling for the intermediates. By the end of Q1, Esteban Gutierrez, Kamui Kobayashi, Jules Bianchi, Marcus Ericsson and Max Chilton have found themselves eliminated with Pastor Maldonado, who is serving a five-place grid penalty, not classified.
The usual suspects were later joined by heavy-weights Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button in the casualty list after the end of Q2. Daniil Kvyat, Adrian Sutil, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez also failed to make the cut for the final round.
Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel managed to post an impressive time and will start the race from P3. The prodigious German will have company from compatriot Nico Rosberg in the second row.
Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso, who won the title in 2013, did just enough to finish fifth, a place ahead of his former team-mate Felipe Massa for Williams. Massa`s team-mate, Valtteri Bottas qualified for P7, ahead of Force India`s Nico Hulkenberg. Toro Rosso`s Jean-Eric Vergne and Lotus` Romain Grosjean completed the top 10 grid for Sunday`s race.
I`ve always said the person who wins the world championship this year is the person who does the best job on the circuit, but that does not seem the way it is at the moment.