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Qualifying - Hamilton charges to first Mercedes pole 13 Apr 2013

(L to R): Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari, pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013 It's been a tense weekend for Australian Mark Webber, who takes no further part in qualifying Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 13 April 2013

Lewis Hamilton will aim for a third Chinese Grand Prix victory in Shanghai on Sunday after taking pole position on Saturday with a best lap of 1m 34.484s in the final, Q3 qualifying session in which everyone minimised mileage in order to preserve their tyres.

The 2008 world champion was understandably delighted with his first pole position since joining Mercedes and will be joined on the front row by Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, who had earlier set fastest time with 1m 34.761s. However, the Finn may be investigated after Adrian Sutil claimed that he impeded him during his final run in Q1.

Fernando Alonso finished third for Ferrari with 1m 34.788s, ahead of Nico Rosberg on 1m 34.861s and the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa on 1m 34.933s.

Romain Grosjean was sixth for Lotus on 1m 35.364s, and the final genuine time came from Daniel Ricciardo whose Toro Rosso was seventh on 1m 35.998s, after McLaren's Jenson Button did a tactical 2m 05.673s on the medium compound tyre for eighth.

Sebastian Vettel will start a lowly ninth for Red Bull, but with a free choice of tyres for the race after failing to log a time in Q3. The reigning world champion - who along with Button opted to run medium rubber in the final session - aborted his final run after a problem under braking at the hairpin. Nico Hulkenberg also failed to log a time and will start tenth for Sauber after tactically opting not to complete a flying lap.

As Hamilton dominated Q2, the session proved hugely disappointing for Mark Webber whose Red Bull apparently wasn’t fuelled sufficiently to make it back to the pits after he’d set what was at first the second-fastest time. The Australian may yet get penalised from an eventual 14th place if he fails to provide a fuel sample if required.

A late improvement from Daniel Ricciardo set the cat among the pigeons as he jumped his Toro Rosso to an eventual ninth overall. That meant that Paul di Resta was the first to be knocked out, after lapping his Force India in 1m 36.287s compared to the 1m 36.261s that got Hulkenberg through in 10th place. Sergio Perez didn’t make it either, the Mexican recording 1m 36.314s in the second McLaren.

Adrian Sutil did 1m 36.405s in the other Force India while Webber’s best was 1m 36.679s, leaving him on the seventh row. Behind Webber, Pastor Maldonado posted 1m 37.139s in the lead Williams, with Jean-Eric Vergne 16th in the second Toro Rosso on 1m 37.199s.

Unusually, there had been no immediate rush for drivers to get out for the start of Q1 as preservation of Pirelli’s soft tyres was uppermost in every mind. As Hamilton topped the times from Rosberg and Massa, the session weeded out Valtteri Bottas’ Williams, on 1m 37.769s, Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber on 1m 37.990s, and both of the Marussia and Caterham drivers.

Until late improvements by the Toro Rossos, it seemed that Jules Bianchi was going to make Q2 for Marussia, but Vergne’s and Ricciardo’s final laps, and similar late improvements for Bottas and Gutierrez, left the order of the final quartet as Bianchi, 1m 38.780s; Chilton, 1m 39.537s; Giedo van der Garde, 1m 39.614s; and Charles Pic, 1m 39.660s.

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