Mercedes duo set for pole shoot-out

Published: Saturday 11th April 2015 by The News Editor

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It will be a straight fight between Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg for pole position ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

And the smart money will be on the reigning world champion who has the most poles at the Shanghai International Circuit with four, and which includes the last two.

After finishing fastest in both practice sessions on Friday, Hamilton made it a clean sweep by setting the quickest time of the weekend to date in the final hour-long session on Saturday ahead of qualifying.

The 30-year-old posted a time of one minute 37.615secs, finishing 0.226secs quicker than team-mate Rosberg.

Expect an all-Ferrari second row if the times in practice are to be replicated in qualifying as Sebastian Vettel finished seven tenths of a second behind Hamilton, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen a further two tenths further back.

Vettel may have scored Ferrari’s first win for almost two years in Malaysia a fortnight ago, but the track and cooler conditions – a drop of more than 10 degrees – is clearly playing into Mercedes’ hands.

As for the rest, the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat hold sway, but the duo finished 1.405secs and 1.491secs behind the searing pace of Hamilton, with the latter encountering issues with power late on.

They at least will be in a fight for the third row as Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr finished just seven thousandths of a second behind Kvyat.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, the second Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean in his Lotus completed the top 10, the latter down by 1.790secs.

Jenson Button found himself down in 15th in his McLaren, just over two seconds off the pace, whilst for team-mate Fernando Alonso, his morning run ended inside two minutes.

On his installation lap, the Spaniard ground to a halt after just a few hundred metres at turn four, leaving him with a short walk back to the McLaren garage at least to discuss the latest failure with the Honda power unit.

Naturally, it left Alonso bottom of the timesheet, with Manor duo Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi above him in 18th and 19th.

After electrical problems in FP2 on Friday, Stevens enjoyed a trouble-free FR3 to finish 5.3secs behind Hamilton and two seconds ahead of Merhi.

It means after so far failing to take part in either qualifying or the race in Australia and Malaysia, 23-year-old Briton Stevens is set to finally make it through the weekend.

Published: Saturday 11th April 2015 by The News Editor

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