Vettel takes pole in China; looking for 3rd straight win

Vettel takes pole in China; looking for 3rd straight win

Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of a tactical masterstroke by his Red Bull team to win in Shanghai after championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen dramatically collided during a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix.

RBR principal Christian Horner said his team would need a miracle to get the auto out in time to qualify, but with three minutes left on the clock Ricciardo left the pit lane to set one flying lap.

Verstappen spun after damaging his auto in the opening race in Australia and then retired after contact with Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain, and after a third disrupted race says he will try and learn from the hard start to the season.

The 2018 Chinese Grand Prix starts at 2:10pm CST on Sunday April 15 in Shanghai.

Although Verstappen recovered to finish fourth on track, a 10-second time penalty for his clash with Vettel dropped him to fifth in the final standings behind the second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who had a subdued afternoon.

The Italian glamour team last won in China in 2013.

Although he put up a fight against Ricciardo's passing attempt Bottas concedes there was little he could do with such a significant tyre disadvantage.

"Yes we are", he said. "But it was definitely out of reach today". "We were half a second behind them in qualifying, which is why I boxed on my final lap because I knew I couldn't match their pace". You can see in long corners they make some good gains to us.

The result follows victories for Vettel in Australia and Bahrain and has prompted some to suggest that Formula One could be in the midst of a power shift, as Ferrari show promising early signs of a return to their dominance of the early 2000s. "They're the quickest on the straights too, so overtaking will be tough".

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However, Vettel - starting on pole - found himself behind Bottas after the teams pitted around the 20th lap. Hamilton is also trying to win his fifth, but has been overshadowed so far by his long-time rival.

"It was okay, but not good enough", he said.

It's like empires rising and falling and maybe Mercedes are on the wane and the new Ferrari era is about to come back.

Verstappen admitted his mistakes, and apologised to Vettel after the race. "The tracks are quite different to each other".

"To have that much of a gap is a surprise", said Vettel. The first session was dry despite the threat of rain on a chilly, windy day.

Hamilton is being hopeful.

The German beat his teammate by just 0.087 seconds to score his second pole positions in succession.

But the Briton, like Vettel a four-times champion, has won in Shanghai an unprecedented five times and is determined to claw back at least some of that deficit tomorrow.

Vettel now holds a 17-point lead in the overall standings over Hamilton after having won the opening two races of the season. Ricciardo will start the race in P6, alongside teammate Max Verstappen, and you can bet Red Bull would have taken that after final practice.

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