First pole of season for Hamilton, Mercedes

Shanghai, April 13 (IANS) British Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton bagged his and his team Mercedes’ first pole of the season here at the Shanghai International Circuit Saturday for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Timing 1:34.484 in Q3, Hamilton won the 27th pole of his career and third in China, pipping Kimi Raikkonen’s (1:34.761) Lotus and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso (1:34.788), who out-qualified teammate Felipe Massa for the first time in five races. This will be Raikkonen’s first front-row start since Monaco in 2009.

Mercedes won their first race, after making a comeback into the sport in 2010, last year at the same track when Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg won his first race. Rosberg will start from fourth followed by Massa and Romain Grosjean of Lotus.

However, it was a disappointing session for World Champions Red Bull. Australian Mark Webber failed to make it to the top-10 shoot-out after suffering a fuel pressure problem in Q2 and stopping the Red Bull on the track.

Webber’s teammate and triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel will start from ninth, one place behind McLaren’s Jenson Button, after choosing not to set a time in Q3.

Qualifying was a tactical affair and Vettel, like many others, was thinking of preserving his tyres, which wear heavily on this circuit. Most drivers only came out onto the track in the last three minutes of Q3, setting only one flying lap.

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo qualified seventh for the race.

The drivers who failed to make it to Q3 were Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez, Adrian Sutil, Pastor Maldonado, Jean-Eric Vergne and Webber while Esteban Gutierrez, Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton, Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde went out in Q1.

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