Hamilton storms to Chinese GP pole

Lewis Hamilton put himself in the ideal position to clinch the world championship title by taking pole position at Shanghai

Hamilton storms to Chinese GP pole

His McLaren teammate and title rival Fernando Alonso could only manage fourth position, six tenths of a second off the pace.

Kimi Raikkonen - who had dominated the weekend until Q3 - will start second ahead of Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

The first two sessions of qualifying suggested that Raikkonen was on course for a commanding pole position.

After suffering a hydraulic leak at the end of final practice, the Finn began Q1 with an installation lap to check his Ferrari before setting the fastest time of the segment by exactly a tenth of a second.

In his wake, Massa, Hamilton and Alonso were all within 0.017 seconds of each other's times.

Raikkonen then proved dominant in Q2. While his three main rivals remaining tightly-bunched, lapping 0.102 seconds apart, the Finn was quickest by a comfortable 0.415 seconds.

But in Q3 it was Massa who emerged fastest by 0.4 seconds after the first flying laps, with Raikkonen second ahead of Hamilton.

The Briton then found another 0.7 seconds on his last run to leap up to pole position, and Raikkonen's response fell short by 0.136 seconds.

Massa failed to improve on his initial flying lap and had to settle for third, with Alonso a further three tenths of a second slower on the outside of the second row.

David Coulthard secured his best qualifying position of the year by taking fifth for Red Bull - two places and half a second clear of teammate Mark Webber.

Ralf Schumacher split the pair, the Toyota driver continuing his strong practice form by securing sixth on the grid. He will start seven places ahead of teammate Jarno Trulli, who did not get beyond Q2.

The BMWs had a less successful qualifying than usual and ended up eighth and ninth, with Jenson Button completing the top ten after a strong run for Honda.

After their dramatic race at Fuji, Toro Rosso produced their best dry qualifying performance yet in China. Vitantonio Liuzzi and Sebastian Vettel will share the sixth row, having comfortably got through Q1, where they had been eighth and ninth fastest.

Several big names were eliminated in the first session as the incredibly close times in the midfield - where just 0.284 seconds covered eighth to 18th places - punished any slightly imperfect laps.

Honda's Rubens Barrichello, Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella and Williams' Alex Wurz were pushed down to 17th, 18th and 19th positions in the final seconds of Q1.

While Barrichello and Wurz had both been knocked out in Q1 on six occasions already this season, this was Fisichella's worst qualifying performance in over three years, although he had only been 0.065 seconds slower than teammate Heikki Kovalainen in the segment.

Kovalainen did not get much further, running wide at the final corner on his last lap in Q2 and ending up 14th, ahead of Anthony Davidson and Nico Rosberg - whose run of five consecutive Q3 appearances ended as he struggled to 16th for Williams.

Takuma Sato could not match his Super Aguri teammate Davidson's performance and was 20th ahead of the two Spykers, who had not been able to replicate their Fuji pace at Shanghai and remained at the back of the field.

China qualifying breakdown Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
Pos Driver Team Pos Time Lap Pos Time Lap Pos Time Lap
1. Hamilton McLaren 3. 1:35.798 3 4. 1:35.898 3 1. 1:35.908 10
2. Raikkonen Ferrari 1. 1:35.692 4 1. 1:35.381 3 2. 1:36.044 10
3. Massa Ferrari 2. 1:35.792 3 2. 1:35.796 3 3. 1:36.221 10
4. Alonso McLaren 4. 1:35.809 3 3. 1:35.845 3 4. 1:36.576 10
5. Coulthard Red Bull 7. 1:36.930 6 7. 1:36.252 6 5. 1:37.619 10
6. R.Schumacher Toyota 11. 1:37.135 7 9. 1:36.709 6 6. 1:38.013 10
7. Webber Red Bull 13. 1:37.199 6 8. 1:36.602 6 7. 1:38.153 10
8. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 6. 1:36.737 5 6. 1:36.217 6 8. 1:38.455 10
9. Kubica BMW Sauber 5. 1:36.309 4 5. 1:36.116 6 9. 1:38.472 10
10. Button Honda 10. 1:37.092 6 10. 1:36.771 6 10. 1:39.285 10
11. Liuzzi Toro Rosso 9. 1:37.047 6 11. 1:36.862 6
12. Vettel Toro Rosso 8. 1:37.006 6 12. 1:36.891 6
13. Trulli Toyota 15. 1:37.209 7 13. 1:36.959 6
14. Kovalainen Renault 16. 1:37.225 6 14. 1:36.991 6
15. Davidson Super Aguri 14. 1:37.203 6 15. 1:37.247 6
16. Rosberg Williams 12. 1:37.144 7 16. 1:37.483 6
17. Barrichello Honda 17. 1:37.251 6
18. Fisichella Renault 18. 1:37.290 7
19. Wurz Williams 19. 1:37.456 6
20. Sato Super Aguri 20. 1:38.218 6
21. Sutil Spyker 21. 1:38.668 8
22. Yamamoto Spyker 22. 1:39.336 7
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