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Hamilton wary of Ferrari threat

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 11-04-2015 skysports.com

Getty © Provided by BSkyB Getty Sutton Images © Provided by BSkyB Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton remains wary of the threat from Ferrari in the Chinese GP despite claiming pole position ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg. 

While the two Mercedes cars were unbeatable in qualifying, with Hamilton almost a second quicker than the third-placed Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari are adamant that they will be more competitive in Sunday’s race – a conviction endorsed by their impressive long-run pace during Friday’s practice sessions.

"They are very quick here and have been quick here in the past,” a cautious Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. “They have been very, very fast in the past here on their long runs and they should be close.

“I am very happy with pole, but you can’t really get too excited because there is a long, long race ahead of us tomorrow.”

Vettel was able to beat the pole-sitting Hamilton in Malaysia after taking one fewer pit-stop during the race. Although the SF15-T remains no match for the W06 on outright pace, Ferrari’s rapid 2015 improvement has forced Mercedes to put on their thinking caps after their race strategy spectacularly unravelled in Sepang.

But with Ferrari admitting they are unlikely to be able to adopt a one-stop strategy this weekend, Hamilton is already plotting to run in identical fashion to nullify any advantage of durability that Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen might garner.

“There is about two seconds between the two [strategies] so it is unlikely that I am going to be pushing for a three-stop,” the world champion confirmed.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Ferrari are able to run the faster, but more brittle, soft tyres for a longer first stint than Mercedes at the start of the race, a scenario which would see the Silver Arrows shed track position to their rivals.

Hamilton’s pole position was his fifth at Shanghai but secured with less than a tenth of a second to spare after the Englishman surprisingly failed to improve on his final qualifying lap. "That was his worst lap of the weekend," observed Sky F1's Martin Brundle.

As Rosberg, hitherto around three-tenths slower than his team-mate all weekend, suddenly found more pace in the final throes after the chequered flag had fallen, Hamilton was left to fend off the German with the lap of 1:35.782 he had set at the start of Q3. In the final reckoning, there was less than a tenth of a second between the Mercedes pair.

“I had a good lap, my last one wasn’t very good, but the first one was good enough,” Hamilton succinctly summarised afterwards. 

With the exception of Q1, which Mercedes strolled through without deigning to use the soft compound, Hamilton has been fastest in every session so far this weekend. But it's only the race which pays out any points.

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