Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes has taken pole position for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix by edging out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Shanghai.
Hamilton secured the 63rd pole of his career on Saturday, and the sixth in succession dating back to last season, with a devastating lap of 1 minute 31.678 seconds.
It shattered Michael Schumacher’s long-standing lap record at the track of 1:32.238 from 2004.
Vettel, who won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, is second, having trailed Hamilton by 0.186 seconds.
Bottas was just one thousandth of a second behind in third while Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in the other Ferrari.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, Felipe Massa, Nico Huelkenberg, Sergio Perez, Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll completed the top 10.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was a notable victim in first qualifying as an “engine software issue” limited his running and his last lap was halted prematurely by Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi crashing.
The weather in Shanghai was fine for racing after fog grounded the medical helicopter for most of Friday, causing second practice to be cancelled.
The governing body FIA have arranged for a police escort to clear traffic for an ambulance on Sunday meaning the race can definitely proceed even if the helicopter cannot fly.
Vettel had topped the timesheets in third practice in another indication Ferrari have closed the gap to three-time reigning world champions Mercedes this season.
Ricciardo is likely to be happy in fifth given Red Bull were working on his car right up to the start of qualifying but he trailed Raikkonen in fourth by nearly a second.
Verstappen also had difficulties and complained about an engine problem early on. Despite coming in for Red Bull to look at his car, the issue could not be fully resolved.
The team later said it was a software problem.