|Mercedes AMG Petronas British driver Lewis Hamilton (C), Red Bull Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (L) and his teammate Spanish driver Sebastian Vettel greet spectators after the qualifying session at the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19, 2014. (Xinhua/Fan Jun)
SHANGHAI, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton overcame the rain-soaked Shanghai International Circuit to top Saturday's grid race ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who was followed by teammate and four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel in the F1 Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton's time of 1 minute, 53.860 seconds at the Shanghai International Circuit was six tenths seconds faster than Ricciardo, who seems to see further off his bad luck in the season. The Australian had his second place in Australia stripped through disqualification and had been imposed 10-place penalty on the grid for a pit-lane infringement in Malaysia, but rebounded with a fourth place performance in Bahrain Grand Prix this month.
It was Mecerdes' fourth straight pole to start the Formula One season and the third for Hamilton with his teammate Nico Rosberg finished fourth.
"It was so slippery out there, trying to find the grip, obviously not making mistakes on your lap, and really putting it together, especially when you have these guys (Red Bull) pushing you," Hamilton said of third pole position of the season so far.
"It was a tough session. I really enjoyed it. The car was feeling great. It's a good position for the race and I hope we can follow through tomorrow."
Ricciardo edged closest to the Briton in the final moments of the session but the Australian admitted afterwards that he had not got the best out of the session.
"To be honest, I struggled a bit throughout the session, at least personally I didn't feel like I was getting on top of the conditions," Ricciardo said. "But then the last set of inters, right at the end of Q3, we managed to get a bit more out of it and I put a good lap together, so pretty pleased to be on the front row. A good day."
Vettel, meanwhile, finished just under five tenths behind Ricciardo and admitted that the Australian's better record in qualifying so far was far from pleasing.
"Daniel is doing a very good job, he has not just had one good weekend, he had good weekends and so far he seems to be able to get the maximum out of the car," said the defending champion.
"On my side, maybe I'm struggling a little bit more, but at the end of the day we have the same car. There's nothing between cars, so if he manages to beat me, then he beats me on the circuit, fair and square. Of course, that's not to my liking but equally, I know that I have to do a little bit better."
Hamilton and Rosberg have wrapped up all the victories in the first three races this season for the Mercedes, who set the pace in constructors standings with 111 points, 67 more than second-placed India Force.
Rosberg leads the championship on 61 points, 11 ahead of Hamilton, but quite probably yield it to his British teammate after Sunday's race.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso settled in the fifth place, while his teammate Kimi Raikkonen of Finland was out of grid competition in qualifying 2 race and had to start from 11th place Sunday.
Steady rain at the start of the first made wet Pirellis the tire of choice but as the 18-minute segment reached its final minutes a number of drivers gambled on a switch to intermediate rubber and as the Sauber drivers began to put in good sector times it looked the right move for those who might otherwise be bounced out in Q1.