Lewis Hamilton was in a league of his own as he claimed his third pole of 2014 in a wet qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver posted a 1:53.860 to claim top spot ahead, six tenths ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who made it 3-1 in the battle with team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

The Australian held a half second advantage over Vettel in third while Nico Rosberg never looked like challenging finishing fourth 1.2 seconds off his team-mate’s pole time.

Fernando Alonso set a new record for the most number of times a driver has started a race in fifth for Ferrari as his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen failed to make the top ten.

Williams overcame their wet weather struggles and got both cars in the final Q3 session. In one of the closest driver pairings on the grid currently, it was Felipe Massa who just had the edge on Valtteri Bottas by a tenth of a second as they finished sixth and seventh.

Nico Hulkenberg made up for the disappointing qualifying in Bahrain by making it up to eighth for Force India, again comprehensively beating his team-mate Sergio Perez who will start down in 16th, Jean-Eric Vergne proved his wet weather skills once again taking ninth for Toro Rosso.

Finally completing the top ten is Romain Grosjean who hauled the Lotus into the final segment for the first time this season.

A few notable drivers missed out on Q3 as the wet weather allowed some of those midfield teams without Mercedes power to shine.

Indeed with Raikkonen in 11th the two McLaren’s also missed out as Jenson Button could only achieve 12th with Kevin Magnussen 15th.

Daniil Kvyat, on his first visit to China, will be relatively pleased in 13th with Adrian Sutil the quickest Sauber in 14th place.

At the back there were few surprises despite the conditions changing between full wet and intermediate, one absentee from the session was Pastor Maldonado who had engine troubles in his Lotus meaning he will start last.

Near the end of the opening 18-minute segment it looked as if some of the slower teams could provide a shock as the track dried slightly, however, no-one could take advantage as Esteban Gutierrez was the midfield car to join the two Caterham’s and two Marussia’s in the drop zone.

Kamui Kobayashi was the fastest of those two teams ahead of Jules Bianchi as Marcus Ericsson out-qualified the second Marussia of Max Chilton.

Back at the front and we look set for another brilliant scrap tomorrow, the early race pace of the Mercedes, and particularly Hamilton was ominous in practice but with dry conditions expected, and tyre degradation set to play a major role, Ricciardo, who was able to match Mercedes for much of the race simulation on Friday, could spring a surprise.

Rosberg cannot be discounted after his disappointing qualifying and nor can Vettel but we could, just could, be set for the first duel between Red Bull and Mercedes for the win on Sunday.

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