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Summary

  1. Hamilton becomes only fourth man to take five or more poles at one track
  2. Brit sits alongside Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio
  3. Rosberg 2nd, Vettel 3rd, Massa 4th
  4. Bottas 5th, Raikkonen 6th, Ricciardo 7th
  5. Grosjean 8th, Nasr 9th, Ericsson 10th
  6. Hamilton top in Q2, Rosberg 2nd, Saubers through
  7. Kvyat, Maldonado, Perez, Toro Rossos out in Q2
  8. Both McLarens, Manors & Hulkenberg out in Q1

Live Reporting

By Jamie Strickland

All times stated are UK

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Cheerio and thanks for your company

Always end with some good stats I say, and I think we've done that.

Returning to more pertinent matters, it was a very good day for Lewis Hamilton as he claimed his 41st career pole position with an impressive performance at the wheel of the Mercedes.

The double world champion topped every practice session in Shanghai on his way to pole, with team-mate Nico Rosberg trailing unhappily in his wake.

The gap to the Ferraris also looks ominous, but should tyre management come into play in a significant way tomorrow, then the scarlet cars could threaten Hamilton's dominance.

We'll be back with you from 05:30 BST to see what transpires.

Senna: the one-lap master

Ayrton Senna, when not being eyeballed at close quarters by Alan Pardew's old man (see 09:42), was a demon at the old pole postion game.

He got 65 of them in 162 races, a strike rate of 40.37%. Michael Schumacher's record of 68 was achieved in 308 outings, a 22.15% success record.

Senna's poles were rather more spread around the circuits of the world - 20 to be precise - but he scored five at both Monza and Monaco, six in Adelaide and eight at Imola, the track that claimed his life in 1994.

He was on pole for that fateful race, of course.

Ayrton Senna secured the qualifying record with McLaren
Getty Images
Ayrton Senna secured the record while at McLaren
Getty Images

Fangio's fantastic five

Juan Manuel Fangio gives good stat.

He raced in just 51 grands prix (admittedly at a time when there were far fewer races in a season), but won 24 of those (47.06%), claiming 29 pole positions (56.86%), 23 fastest laps (45.10%) and 35 podiums (68.63%). All of that combined made him a five-time world champion.

By comparison his return of five poles at just one venue seems modest - yet it's enough to earn him a place among this small but happy band of record-holders.

His five poles came at Monza, while he also managed four at Spa-Francorchamps, Reims and Monaco.

Juan Manuel Fangio at Monza in 1970
Getty Images
Juan Manuel Fangio at Monza in 1957
Getty Images

Journey with us now into the stat cave...

We told you earlier that Lewis Hamilton is now in an elite group of four men who can claim to have taken pole position at least five times at one particular F1 track.

In the case of one of those men, Michael Schumacher, the feat was achieved at no fewer than six tracks.

The seven-time world champion took five poles at both Imola and Sepang, six at Montreal, seven at Barcelona and the Hungaroring, and a mildly staggering eight at Suzuka.

Michael Schumacher at Suzuka
Getty Images
Michael Schumacher at Suzuka
Getty Images

Romain Grosjean on Twitter: BOOM, P8 for #8 in Quali today. Great job from my guys to setup the car! Let's bring points tomorrow

Grosjean helmet
Romain Grosjean

Mercedes on Twitter: Chatting through a Shanghai stunner with David Coulthard & Suzi Perry for @bbcf1: what a lap it was from Lewis Hamilton!

You'll be able to watch this interview in our highlights show at 13:00 BST on BBC One...

Hamilton, Perry & Coulthard
Mercedes

Hamilton's Shanghai dominance ranks with greats

Today's result marks Lewis Hamilton's fifth pole in China, which means he joins Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio in the only drivers to score five or more poles at one particular track.

Senna
Getty Images

Special mention to our social media guru Joel Goldman who sent me this picture of Ayrton Senna along with the caption: "Alan Pardew's dad, furthest right."

Vettel happy with P3

Sebastian Vettel, who starts in third, said: "Happy with today - it was a different strategy for us today in Q3, going only once on used set. Mercedes were quicker than expected - P3 was the maximum we could have expected today.

"Hopefully tomorrow will be closer - we're looking forward to going racing - it's not far to turn one. And it's a track where tyres are important."

Sebastian Vettel after China qualifying
AFP

Rosberg frustrated by small gap to pole

Asked whether he was frustrated at not taking pole, Nico Rosberg said: "Definitely, yeah. When it's four hundredths... that's nothing. I'm frustrated because it's so close."

Nico Rosberg looks dejected after qualifying
EPA

'It's not over by all means'

Lewis Hamilton on pole in China
AFP

Lewis Hamilton is understandably a satisfied man after that performance, but the memory of Ferrari's win in Malaysia is still very much on his mind.

"China is continuing to be generally a good circuit for me," he said. "The car is handling fantastically well this weekend, a lot better compared to how it was in Malaysia."

Asked what lessons had been learned after Sepang, the Mercedes driver said: "There's too many to mention but obviously it wasn't the tidiest weekend for us.

"For us on my side of the garage, we've tried to get our full programme in, we've not had any problems this weekend. We've still a tough race ahead because the Ferraris are good on long-run pace, so it's not over by any means."

Fernando Alonso on Twitter: Fantastic work of the whole team to get the car ready for the Qualy! Again, big progress on the car from Malaysia! #GoodTimesComing

Fernando Alonso and Ron Dennis
Getty Images

Get involved - #bbcf1

James Weir: Someone had their shreddies for breakfast Lewis Hamilton takes pole for the third time in 3 yrs in China

Luper Daniel: #ChineseGP The Prancing Horse of Vettel simply won't go away. Seems we fixing for another good fight tomorrow.

Wycliffe Alwal: That McLaren who were championship contenders just a few years ago are only faster than Marussia in China qualifying is worrying.

Here's your full top 10

Note the gap of nine tenths of a second between the quickest Mercedes and quickest Ferrari.

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 1m35.782s

2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) - 1m35.824s

3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 1m36.687s

4. Felipe Massa (Williams) - 1m36.954s

5. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) - 1m37.143s

6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 1m37.232

7. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 1m37.540s

8. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) - 1m37.905s

9. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) - 1m38.067s

10. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) - 1m38.158s

Tighter than it might have been

Although Lewis Hamilton looked mighty today, it's worth noting that he was unable to improve on his final lap, allowing team-mate Nico Rosberg to close to within 0.04secs on his last flyer.

"Oh come on, guys," was Rosberg's response when told of the gap over the team radio.

Still, it was enough for the reigning champion to earn his 41st career pole position.

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel
Getty Images

Pole position to Lewis Hamilton

That walloping lap from Lewis Hamilton has unsurprisingly secured pole for the Mercedes man.

Team-mate Nico Rosberg will start second ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

hamilton
AFP

Five minutes to go...

... and the battle looks very much to be over for pole.

Who will be third? Felipe Massa's Williams is the present incumbent but those Ferraris are sniffing around.

Into the 1:35s goes Hamilton

You can pretty much stick a fork in this qualifying session.

Lewis Hamilton has just done a 1:35.782. A thumping, trouser-trembling time.

Team-mate Nico Rosberg, as he seems to have done for much of the weekend, trails by three tenths.

hamilton
AFP

Meanwhile, in beard news...

Williams on Twitter: Felipe Massa has switched to a lower downforce facial hair setup for today

Goatee? Gawn.

Massa China
Williams

Green light

Q3 is off and running.

How fast can you go, Lewis?

McLaren on Twitter: Both cars back in the garage and being prepped for parc ferme. Progress has been made but there's still a lot of work to do

Get involved - #bbcf1

Jeremiah Kariuki: Saubers have as well improved and their rookie driver proving he can be a champion in the making.

Gareth Jones: Ron Dennis: "Eric, get on the phone to Manor - let's use *their* cars next race"

Simon Latson: Whilst I want them to do well, McLaren have produced more lemons in recent years than the man from Del Monte.

Q2 times

China Q2
Formula1.com

Top 10 challengers

So, the line up for Q3 is:

1. Lewis Hamilton 2. Nico Rosberg 3. Sebastian Vettel 4. Kimi Raikkonen 5. Felipe Massa 6. Valtteri Bottas 7. Daniel Ricciardo 8. Felipe Nasr 9. Romain Grosjean 10. Marcus Ericsson

Prove me wrong why don't you?

Wow, I did not see that coming from Sauber.

Having declared them dead and buried in my last post they are BOTH through to the top-10 shoot out.

Out instead goes Pastor Maldonado of Lotus in P11, Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull in 12th, the Toro Rossos of Max Verstapoen and Carlos Sainz in 13th and 14th and the Force India of Sergio Perez in 15th.

nasr
EPA

Who's going to miss out on top 10?

Just seconds remain in Q2 and you have to say it looks like Sauber are struggling. Who will join them in elimination?

Third and fourth for Ferrari

The Ferraris have posted their times for Q2 and they are good.

Sebastian Vettel does a 1:36.9 - just two tenths off Nico Rosberg.

Kimi Raikkoen is not all that far behind in fourth.

vettel
AFP

Ferrari playing it cool

Still no Ferraris on track in Q2. The scarlet cars were quickest in Q1 and should be on the board soon.

Ooof - Hamilton lays down a marker

OK, Q2 has just got serious with Lewis Hamilton strapping on the soft tyres and banging in a 1:36.423. The quickest time of the weekend by some way.

Team-mate Nico Rosberg is three tenths back.

Job done for Mercedes.

hamilton
EPA

Button: 'Qualifying just wasn't for us'

"The car didn't feel bad so it's interesting when you find a good balance but the lap time is not there," McLaren's Jenson Button tells BBC Radio 5 live.

"We've made good improvements this weekend but qualifying just wasn't for us. I'm relatively happy with the balance.

"Hopefully we'll be racing the cars in front tomorrow, but we hoped to be competing with them in qualifying as well."

Jenson Button during qualifying
AFP

Get involved - #bbcf1

Rich Carey: Great job McLaren

Peter N. Wanyonyi: Wonder whether Jenson Button still thinks Lewis Hamilton made a mistake moving to Mercedes

Clint Bubba O'Neil: Growing pains for McLaren-Honda? Once again, Alonso and Button fail to qualify for Q2??!!! Brutal!

Costly twitch for Alonso?

A reply has shown Fernando Alonso had a very twitchy moment on his final qualifying lap. It cost him a couple of tenths - more a less the amount he missed out on the top 15.

Q1 times

F1
Formula1.com

Both McLarens out in Q1 - again

An unwanted hat-trick for McLaren - both cars are out in Q1 again, as they were in Australia and Malaysia.

This continues the team's worst run of qualifying form since the current system was adopted in 2006.

The Force India of Nico Hulkenberg joins the McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in being eliminated, along with the Manors of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis
Getty Images

Chequered flag

Formula 1 on Twitter: #Q1 SPEED TRAP (13min): Mercedes ahead of Ferrari, who had dominated FP

Speed trap Q1
Formula1.com

Who's in the danger zone?

With two minutes left, our Q1 drop outs are the Manors of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi, the Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz.

Williams on soft-tyre runs

No nonsense from the Williams boys. The team have bolted on the soft tyres to be absolutely sure of getting through to Q2.

Seems overly cautious but I guess you can never be too careful.

Valtteri Bottas is currently second with Felipe Massa fourth.

Massa in qualifying
EPA

Lotus on Twitter: In the top ten mid way through the session

Lotus China qualifying
Lotus

McLaren team radio

Jenson Button: "The rears are overheating towards the end of the lap."

Button is currently in eighth, 1.6secs off the pace. Team-mate Alonso has dropped to 10th.

Alonso posts a time

Fernando Alonso is on the board with a 1:40.327 on the soft tyre. He's eighth right now. Remember, the McLarens need 15th or better to make it through to Q2 for the first time in 2015.