Lewis Hamilton reveals the real reason he struggled in Chinese Grand Prix

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By contrast, Hamilton was only fifth after an error-strewn session that ended with the Briton a second off Vettel's pace. "The vehicle was really awesome".

"It was a insane session - the auto was unbelievable and it just got better", added Vettel.

"I didn't see him until late and left a bit of room".

Ferrari, though, played the bluff on the ultras, with neither Raikkonen and Vettel completing their final laps and heading back into the pits.

Vettel, who holds a 17-point lead over Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton after winning in Australia and Bahrain, is looking good for a hat-trick. "We have looked at tomorrow, but we have to see whether that proves to be right". Obviously it's going to be a long race. "We were both lucky but that is how it goes".

Wolff's comments came after a disappointing qualifying session for Mercedes, with drivers Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton only finishing third and fourth.

On a chastening day for the team which has dominated F1 for the past four years, Mercedes were soundly beaten, the Silver Arrows half a second slower than Ferrari in the top-10 shootout. "To have that much of a gap (over Mercedes), it is a surprise".

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Dominant isn't a word that has been used to describe Ferrari since they chalked up five straight drivers' titles and six consecutive constructors' crowns with Michael Schumacher, but they were imperious on Saturday.

The Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo took the fifth and sixth grid spots, with the team just barely getting Ricciardo's vehicle ready after an engine blow-out in final practice.

But while Ricciardo's led him to the race win, Verstappen's saw him clash with Lewis Hamilton and Vettel. They were just too fast on the fresh tyres, so I didn't want to compromise my race to the guys behind.

The two Red Bulls were best of the rest in fifth and sixth.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez. The upside for the eliminated Dane and Frenchman, however, is that both will be able to start on the advantageous soft tyre as opposed to the ultrasofts that their higher-placed teammates will be forced to use. Despite a management reshuffle and an emergency debrief following a lack of pace in Bahrain, both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne once again failed to progress to the top-10 qualifying shootout, lining up 13th and 14th on the grid. With Renault unable to supply a pre-made replacement power unit for qualifying, the team worked relentlessly to get the Australian out.

Torro Rosso's Brandon Hartley was the slowest driver in Q2 and will start 15th tomorrow, ahead of Sergey Sirotkin of Sauber.

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