Formula One: Ferrari leads way in China

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen found themselves half a second clear of Mercedes in qualifying, a gap that has left Silver Arrows boss Toto Wolff scratching his head, while Max Verstappen himself was a further tenth back in P5.

"The tyre choice was quite an easy decision in our minds, we could only find out in qualifying if it was going to be fast enough to do Q2 with those tyres, but I think it was quite a straightforward decision We'll see how it pans out tomorrow, It's unknown tomorrow but we'll see how it goes". That should help Mercedes, which struggled to get its tyres up to temperature over one lap, but also means the extent to which the tyres degrade is something of unknown.

"We got through all the laps that we needed and got some good feedback about the auto", said Hamilton after a cold afternoon.

"That was just bad", said former F1 champion Nico Rosberg of the incident.

Hamilton was never a force to reckon with this time, however, qualifying only fourth and losing a place immediately at the start.

Hamilton has an impressive record in China and is determined to claw back at least some of his 17-point deficit to Vettel in the overall standings after the German powered to victory in the opening two races in Australia and Bahrain.

There are still those that believe the overall quality of the tyre is still not where it needs to be - Hamilton for example says the softer tyres for 2018 are still too hard - but Pirelli's work has finally created a legitimate variable for an interesting race.

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"That would not be the right mindset", he said.

Getting pole is one thing, but the race is where the points are won and lost.

Lap 2/56 - Williams driver Lance Stroll had the best start on the day, moving up to 12th after starting 18th in the grid.

It was a phenomenal effort from the Red Bull team to get Daniel Ricciardo out for qualifying after an engine failure in the final free practice session.

"Honestly, I can't tell you if we can challenge. That will be fun". He has won five times in China, including past year, and has taken pole six times on the Chinese circuit. They should be able to respond with a good result considering they've had three double top-five finishes in the last four races here, but the pressure is undoubtedly on after such a shaky start to the season. But I think it will be a tight race amongst the top three teams and a long tough race.

Kevin Magnussen was seventh for the US-owned Haas team ahead of the other Renault of Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

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