Formula One

Hamilton takes pole for Chinese GP

Shanghai, China ( - Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes claimed his third pole of the season by topping Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel in Saturday's rain-soaked qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

In wet conditions, Hamilton made a lap around Shanghai International Circuit in 1 minute, 53.860 seconds to earn the top starting position for Sunday's 56- lap race. His 34th career pole placed him in sole possession of fourth on Formula One's all-time pole winners list. Hamilton had been in a tie with Jim Clark for most pole wins among British drivers in the history of F1.

"It was so slippery out there, trying to find the grip, obviously not making mistakes on your lap, and really putting it together, especially when you have these guys [Ricciardo and Vettel] pushing you," Hamilton said. "It was a tough session. I really enjoyed it. The car was feeling great.

"We always have stuff we can improve, but the team has done a great job this weekend. It's a good position for the race, and I hope we can follow through tomorrow."

Hamilton is attempting to win his third straight grand prix this weekend. He started on pole and won in Malaysia on March 30. One week later, Hamilton scored the victory in Bahrain after starting second there.

Ricciardo will start on the front row with Hamilton after qualifying 0.595 seconds behind him.

"I struggled a bit throughout the session," Ricciardo said. "Personally, I didn't feel like I was getting on top of the conditions, but then the last set of inters [tires] right at the end of Q3, we managed to get a bit more out of it. I put a good lap together so pretty pleased to be on the front row."

Vettel, the four-time defending F1 world champion, qualified third but was more than one second behind Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg, who is Hamilton's teammate, struggled in Q3. He placed his Mercedes fourth on the grid. Rosberg started on pole and finished second to Hamilton in Bahrain. He enters this race as the current world championship points leader.

"I had two main problems today," Rosberg said. "I wasn't totally happy with the feeling on the brakes, which resulted in me locking up and going off on my fast lap on the second-to-last lap. Then on my final timed lap, I was half a second quicker going into the last corner, but my time delta on my steering wheel display said that I was two-tenths slower. So I just took a big risk and spun because I mistakenly thought I had nothing to lose anyway."

Fernando Alonso from Ferrari qualified fifth, while Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas took the sixth and seventh starting positions. Nico Hulkenberg from Force India was eighth.

Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Romain Grosjean from Lotus completed the top-10.

Grosjean's teammate, Pastor Maldonado, did not participate in qualifying due to technical problems he encountered during the final practice session, held earlier in the day. Maldonado will start at the race stewards' discretion in 22nd. He had already faced a five-place grid penalty for causing a wreck between him and Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

04/19 07:46:08 ET

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