Vettel snatches Shanghai pole in Ferrari front row lockout

Sebastian Vettel has snatched pole position away from team mate Kimi Raikkonen at the last minute in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Raikkonen looked on form throughout all three qualifying sessions, setting the early pace in each segment before Vettel nabbed the top spot on his final run in Q3 by 0.087s thanks to a strong third sector.

The 1:31.095s effort from the German secured a Ferrari front row lockout, with the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas half a second further back in third.

A struggling Lewis Hamilton settled for fourth after abandoning his final run ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in fifth.

Daniel Ricciardo managed sixth in an impressive effort to bounce back following a last minute engine change when the Australian had a suspected turbo failure in Practice 3.

The team scrambled to get the car out in time to set a lap in Q1, with the Red Bull driver sneaking into the following session.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was the next best in seventh, followed by Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean who rounded out the top ten.

Haas team mate Kevin Magnussen will start from 11th ahead of the second Force India of Esteban Ocon.

Fernando Alonso moved into the top ten in the dying stages of Q2, before a flurry of improvements pushed the McLaren driver back into the drop out zone in 13th.

Stoffel Vandoorne qualified 14th in the sister McLaren while Brendon Harltey took out 15th in the first of the Toro Rosso’s.

Mercedes and Ferrari sent both of its drivers out on the harder yellow-walled soft compound in Q2, however cold temperatures appeared to make things difficult, with the soft tyres taking a number of laps to get into the optimal working range.

After his first run left him sixth, Mercedes sent Hamilton back out for a second run on the softs in the closing stages of Q2, with the move proving fruitful as Hamilton jumped to the top on a 1:31.914s.

It means that both Mercedes and Ferrari will start the race on the soft compound they set their Q2 time on, while the rest of the top 10 will all use ultrasofts.

Sergey Sirotkin was the first of the drivers to miss out on a place in Q2, the Russian ending up 16th ahead of Bahrain hero Pierre Gasly who only managed 17th and Williams’ Lance Stroll.

The Sauber’s rounded out the field with Charles Leclerc out-qualifying Marcus Ericsson despite a spin at the final corner for the former.

Ericsson, however, has been summoned by the stewards for an investigation into not slowing under the yellow flags thrown for Leclerc’s spin.