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Hamilton takes pole for Mercedes in China

Updated: 2014-04-19 16:22 (Agencies)

Hamilton takes pole for Mercedes in China

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton (C) of Britain celebrates after taking pole position at the qualifying session of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix, accompanied by second-fastest Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo (L) of Australia and Ricciardo's team-mate, third-fastest Sebastian Vettel of Germany, at the Shanghai International circuit, April 19, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

SHANGHAI - Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton showed his mastery in the wet to chalk up his third pole position in four races in Chinese Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

The Briton's best time of one minute 53.860 seconds through rain and spray was a hefty 0.595 of a second quicker than Red Bull's Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who joined him on the front row.

Red Bull's quadruple Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, but more than a second slower than Hamilton.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg, who had been on pole in the previous Bahrain Grand Prix, completed the second row for Mercedes after running wide on his second lap and then spinning on his final flying lap.

It was the 34th pole of Hamilton's career, moving him into fourth place on the all-time pole list, one ahead of former world champion Jim Clark and Alain Prost. By moving one clear of Clark, Hamilton now has the most poles of any British driver in F1 history.

"It is so slippery out there, the conditions - trying to find the grip, not making mistakes on your lap and really putting it together," said Hamilton, who will be chasing his third win in a row on Sunday.

"It was a tough session. I really enjoyed it. The car was feeling great. I hope that we can follow through tomorrow."

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, last year's winner in China, starts fifth with former team mate Felipe Massa sixth for Williams in his best qualifying of the season so far.

Rosberg, winner of the season-opener in Australia, said he had been struggling with the brakes in the final phase of qualifying but was "generally not quick enough today."

Force India's Nico Hulkenberg qualified in eighth, followed by Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Lotus' Romain Grosjean, who took his team into third qualifying for the first time this season and will start from 10th.

Both McLaren cars were also knocked out in the second qualifying session for the first time this year. Jenson Button will start from the 12th spot, while Kevin Magnussen will be three places back in 15th.

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado, meanwhile, did not start qualifying due to an engine problem that cut short his final practice round in the morning.

It's been a tough season and a trying week so far for the Venezuelan, who crashed into the wall on his way into the pits on Friday and also spun his car after looking down briefly to adjust the settings on his steering wheel.

He carried a five-place grid penalty into this Sunday's race for flipping Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber at the Bahrain GP two weeks ago.

Conditions are expected to be better for Sunday's race, with no rain and cool temperatures in the forecast.

Hamilton takes pole for Mercedes in China Hamilton takes pole for Mercedes in China Hamilton takes pole for Mercedes in China

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