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Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian VettelImage result for 2017 chinese grand prix

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won a tight fight with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to take pole position for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton beat Vettel by 0.186 seconds for his second pole in two races, while the German edged the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas by 0.001secs.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen made it the same top four on the grid as at the season-opening race in Australia.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was fifth but 1.355secs off the pace.

The Australian's team-mate Max Verstappen was 19th after an engine problem.

Mercedes and Ferrari going toe to toe

China has underlined the impression created at the Australian Grand Prix that Mercedes and Ferrari are incredibly closely matched at the start of a season where huge regulation change has produced faster and more demanding cars.

And as in Melbourne, it was Briton Hamilton who made the difference, pulling out the stops when it mattered in the final qualifying session as it appeared Ferrari might have the edge.

Vettel was fastest in final practice and in the first part of qualifying, and Raikkonen of Finland topped the second session.

But 32-year-old Hamilton produced the first lap under one minute 32 seconds all weekend at the start of the top 10 shootout, beating Vettel by 0.184secs despite a slide at Turn 11.

Hamilton and Vettel both lowered their times by a little over 0.2secs on their final runs and the Mercedes man kept the advantage.

It was Hamilton's sixth pole in a row - dating back to last year's US Grand Prix - and his sixth in China, where his record of four wins is better than any other driver.

However, he will surely know he has his work cut out to beat Ferrari in the race after Vettel's impressive victory in Australia two weeks ago - BBC

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Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes in a straight fight as Formula 1's new era started at the Australian Grand Prix.

Vettel's first win since the Singapore GP in September 2015 was final proof Mercedes' domination is over after the introduction of faster cars.

Hamilton started in pole but Vettel had an advantage on pace and tyre wear.

The German pressured Mercedes into an early pit stop and benefited when Hamilton was held up by Max Verstappen.

Ferrari were simply quicker in Melbourne and the world champions were forced into a position where they had to make a decision that did not work out.

The truth is, the race was almost certainly lost for Hamilton whatever choice Mercedes made as Vettel lapped just a second or so behind him on lap 16.

Mercedes were telling Hamilton he needed to up his pace to build a gap before his pit stop. The Briton was complaining his tyres were going off and he had no more pace.

Fearing that Ferrari would recognise Hamilton's problems, Mercedes had the choice of leaving him out and risking Vettel passing him by and stopping earlier, or bringing him in and losing the lead that way.

To make the early pit stop on lap 17 work, Hamilton had to pass Red Bull's Verstappen, but he returned to the track 1.7 seconds behind him.

But Hamilton always expected it to be a difficult task.

"This is race-critical - you need to pass Verstappen," Hamilton was told by his engineer Peter Bonnington. "I don't know how you expect me to do that," he replied.

Sure enough, Hamilton was quickly on Verstappen's tail but could not pass for four laps.

Vettel stopped on lap 23 and rejoined right in front of the Red Bull while Hamilton fended off Verstappen's challenge into Turn Three and disappeared off into the distance.

By the time Verstappen stopped on lap 25, Vettel was nearly six seconds up the road.

Hamilton had to watch his mirrors for team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who had struggled in the first stint, dropping back 10 seconds in 17 laps, but closed in on the former world champion in the second stint to finish just 1.2 seconds behind - BBC


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