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Page last updated at 07:18 GMT, Saturday, 17 April 2010 08:18 UK

Sebastian Vettel charges to pole at Chinese Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso

By Marc Vesty

Sebastian Vettel powered to pole ahead of team-mate Mark Webber as Red Bull secured a one-two at the front of the grid for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.

Vettel's time of one minute 34.558 seconds was 0.248secs quicker than Webber, 0.355secs faster than Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who took third place.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg qualified in fourth, again out-pacing team-mate Michael Schumacher, who was ninth.

Jenson Button was fifth for McLaren with team-mate Lewis Hamilton sixth.

It was a disappointing qualifying session for the McLarens, after their drivers had topped both of Friday's practice sessions and Hamilton had been fastest in the first two parts of qualifying.

"We were doing so well in practice and in Q1 and Q2 it was OK to be at the front," said Hamilton.

Top three drivers

Chinese GP - top three on the grid

"The car started bottoming a lot in Q3, I really don't know what was wrong. I couldn't get any more time out of it; that was me on the limit."

Once again Red Bull showed their dominance in qualification, taking the team's fourth consecutive pole position - the first time a team has achieved that feat since the 2007.

It was also the second time this season that the two Red Bull drivers have secured the two places at the front of the grid after doing the same in the second race of the season in Australia.

Red Bull have emerged as this season's pace-setters - Vettel won the last race in Malaysia after overtaking Webber early on, and the German could be well clear in the driver's championship had he not hit problems at the previous two events in Bahrain and Australia.

After progressing through the first two qualifying sessions without showing his full pace 22-year-old Vettel finally powered through when it counted in the final seconds of the third session.

"It was tough," said Vettel. "I was not so happy yesterday and this morning Mark was quite a bit quicker than me.

Jenson Button

Button and Hamilton frustrated in qualifying

"But the second one was a fantastic lap in qualifying.

"We are proving we have a very fast car and independent of the circuit type we are always able to be up there."

Vettel, who won in China last year, will also be buoyed by the knowledge that, out of the six pole-sitters at the Chinese Grand Prix, four of those have gone on to win the race.

However, no driver has won a race from pole this season, a fact which will not have escaped Alonso, the McLaren drivers and Rosberg, all of whom showed decent pace.

Rosberg has now out-qualified Schumacher in every race this season and finished 0.723secs clear of his team-mate in Shanghai.

Seven-times world champion Schumacher again looked off the pace, scraping into the top-10 shoot-out by 0.033secs from former Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello who, along with fellow Williams man Nico Hulkenberg, was knocked out in the second session.

F1 Legend Michael Schumacher

Schumacher - I'm not quick enough

"I am obviously disappointed about my qualifying," said Schumacher.

"It didn't really come together. In certain areas I was just not quick enough and at some corner exits I struggled a bit with rear-end grip.

"I haven't really found the balance of the car all weekend."

Championship leader Felipe Massa will start in seventh place on the grid after finishing 0.267secs behind his Ferarri team-mate Alonso.

"This is the maximum of our potential in qualifying," said Alonso.

"We know that the race pace is a little bit better for us and we feel more comfortable always with more fuel in the car on the longer runs."

"Third is a very good starting place for tomorrow's race. The key will be the weather and whether it rains before or during the race."

JONATHAN LEGARD BLOG

The Renault drivers had the most contrasting of days as Robert Kubica continued his impressive form qualifying in eighth after Russian team-mate Vitaly Petrov had taken 14th place.

Swiss Sebastien Buemi recovered from his astonishing crash in Friday practice, where both wheels separated from his Toro Rosso car at 200mph, to finish 13th while team-mate Jaime Alguersuari was 12th.

Sauber's disappointing season continued as Kamui Kobayashi finished 15th with team-mate Pedro de la Rosa two places behind him.

Unsurprisingly it was the three new teams who fell after the first qualifying session with Virgin's Timo Glock fastest of the six drivers.

The early shock in qualifying came when Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi, who qualified 10th in Malaysia, was knocked out - despite his team-mate Adrian Sutil comfortably making it into 10th place on the grid.

Meanwhile, in the intriguing battle between the new teams at the bottom of the grid, Hispania, although eliminated in the first session, managed to show another improvement in their qualifying times.

In Australia the Spanish team were almost two seconds slower than the fastest Lotus while that gap is down to one second.



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see also
Chinese Grand Prix qualifying results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Chinese GP qualifying as it happened
17 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton sets China practice pace
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso unfazed by engine problems
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Buemi escapes 200mph China crash
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Chinese GP practice as it happened
16 Apr 10 |  Formula 1


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