Lewis Hamilton has smashed Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record in qualification for the Grand Prix in Shanghai. He was closely tailed by Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton on Saturday qualified in pole position for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, setting a new track record.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who won the Australian Grand Prix, will start second in Sunday’s race, qualifying just 0.186 seconds slower than Hamilton’s benchmark.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas came third. Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the other Ferrari.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was hit by an “engine software issue” during first qualifying and his last lap was halted prematurely after Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi crashed.
The stoppage prevented Giovinazzi taking part in Q2, during which Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Fernando Alonso (McLaren) and Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) were eliminated.
Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Jolyon Palmer (Renault) all exited in first qualifying but finished ahead of Verstappen. Only Esteban Ocon (Force India) will start behind the young Dutch driver on the grid.
Hamilton’s time of 1.31.678 was the fastest time set at the Shanghai circuit. It was the 63rd pole of his career and the sixth consecutive time he qualified first on the grid dating back to last season.
Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Felipe Massa (Williams), Nico Huelkenberg (Renault), Sergio Perez (Force India), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Lance Stroll (Williams) completed the top 10.
The weather in Shanghai was fine for racing after fog grounded the medical helicopter for most of Friday, causing second practice to be cancelled. The governing body FIA arranged for a police escort to clear traffic for an ambulance on Sunday meaning the race can definitely proceed even if the helicopter cannot fly.