Rain or shine, Vettel can double up in China
Perez underrated to pick up places
Sky Sports F1, 7am Sunday
Lewis Hamilton claimed a sensational pole position at the Shanghai circuit to extend his streak to six poles in a row since last year's US Grand Prix.
Throughout the day it had looked as though Ferrari held an edge but Hamilton produced a perfect lap to claim his place at the front of the grid.
As in Australia, Sebastian Vettel will start second after pipping Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas, this time by just one-thousandth of a second.
Kimi Raikkonen starts fourth in the second Ferrari with Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull fifth albeit almost a full second slower than Raikkonen.
Antonio Giovinazzi crashed his Sauber late in the first segment of qualifying, causing several big names who had not set representative laptimes to suffer.
Max Verstappen was among them, mechanical trouble combining with the crash leaving him to start 17th, though the forecast for a wet race will help the young Dutchman's chances.
Impressive though Hamilton's pole performance was, the Ferrari has looked more competitive at this conventional circuit than was the case on the temporary track in Melbourne.
Hamilton may find Vettel harder to keep behind him in China, where overtaking has proved less difficult in the past.
The strong possibility of rain makes things interesting. Hamilton has always been impressive in wet races, but the struggles he had following Verstappen in Australia compared with how easily Vettel was able to tail Hamilton in the early stages suggests the Ferrari may cope better in a low-grip situation.
The German looks overpriced to claim his second win in a row.
Watching Verstappen fight his way through the field promises to be one of the highlights of the race. The last time it rained during a grand prix the teenage sensation drew comparisons with Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher for his charge from 14th to third place after a late tyre change.
However, bookmakers are taking no chances offering Verstappen at 4-7 to finish in the top six. The midfield looks highly competitive this year and there will be plenty of opportunities for Verstappen to trip over someone and reliability issues have struck both Red Bull cars already this season.
A much better bet in that market could be Sergio Perez. Neither Force India reached Q3 in Australia yet both finished in the points. Perez qualified eighth this time, and having finished fourth in the deluge in Brazil and sixth in the rain at Silverstone last year, his wet-weather form is not in question.
S Vettel to win race
2pts 15-8 Betfred, Hills
S Perez top-six finish
1pt 7-2 bet365, Betway