He has won five times in China, including past year, and has taken pole six times on the Chinese circuit. To put things into perspective, that’s the first time Ferrari have sealed back-to-back front-row lockouts since 2006.
The Chinese GP also marks Ferrari’s second consecutive front row lockout this season, something that was last achieved in 2006 at the United States and French Grand Prixs.
Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton in two of the three qualifications was behind his teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The two Red Bulls were best of the rest in fifth and sixth.
“I think he had a bad exit onto the straight, otherwise I was just ready to let him go”.
Sergey Sirotkin wasn’t so lucky, the Williams driver missing out by an agonising 0.049s.
After years of qualifying inadequacies and under-performing on a Saturday, the Scuderia have finally made a auto that can beat the Mercs.
Vettel now holds a 17-point lead in the overall standings over Hamilton after having won the opening two races of the season.
The Prancing Horse replicated their advantage, with Raikkonen and Vettel setting an impressive pace on the more durable rubber. He’s 2-0 down to Marcus Ericsson, however, with the Swede also sealing Sauber’s first points of the season in Bahrain.
In a typically boisterous bid for the podium, the Dutchman saw gaps where there were none, and wiped out Vettel at the hairpin on the 43rd lap.
The Haas of Kevin Magnussen was in 11th, ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Force India.
Despite going for his fifth Chinese GP pole position, the British racer qualified a disappointing fourth in Shanghai on Saturday.
No driver in the sport has failed to clinch the title after winning the opening three rounds, and Vettel is poised to complete the first part of the bargain after edging out his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen for the second week in succession.
Hamilton is aware of the size of the task facing him on race day at the Shanghai International Circuit but is hopeful of fighting the Ferraris.
The German, whose exemplary lap of 1:31.095 was a new track record, was 0.530sec faster than Bottas in qualifying and 0.568sec quicker than Hamilton, who has won an unprecedented five times previously in Shanghai and arrived in town as the favourite.
Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo added, “Ferrari has had really good pace all weekend and I can’t say honestly now that we’re going to have their pace tomorrow, but Mercedes definitely look within reach”.
Kevin Magnussen was seventh for the USA -owned Haas team ahead of the other Renault of Spaniard Carlos Sainz.