Hamilton finishes third after first Mercedes pole

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Lewis Hamilton drove his Brackley-based Mercedes to third position in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix having started the race from pole, writes James Beckett.

An impressive performance throughout free practice sessions was topped at the end of official qualifying, when Hamilton planted his Mercedes on pole position – his first as a Mercedes driver.

He said: “This is a great feeling and is reward to the team who are all working so hard to give me a competitive car for the season.”

During the race, Hamilton showed strong pace against his leading rivals, and although dropping to third at the fall of the chequered flag, Hamilton was more than happy with his result and performance

He added: “This race here in Shanghai has shown that Mercedes-Benz are in a position to challenge for victories this season and I firmly believe we are in the hunt for the world championship.”

Fernando Alonso calmly drove to victory to claim his first win of the season for Ferrari, ahead of Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen.

Nico Rosberg was a retirement early on after qualifying on the second row. The German’s suspension failed on his Mercedes, forcing him to pull out of the race he won last season.

Daniel Ricciardo, driving a Toro Rosso for the part Bicester-based team, was in fine form as he raced to an impressive seventh.

The Red Bull supported driver said: “This has been my best F1 race for a while. The car was good in qualifying and during the race. I feel we made a significant progress step here in China.”

His team-mate, Jean-Eric Vergne, was classified 12th after being involved in a mid-race collision with the Red Bull of Mark Webber.

Paul di Resta took eighth for the Sahara Force India team to add to his world championship points tally.

The young Scottish driver said: “It was good to score points here in China and maintain the momentum we have shown so far this season.”

Adrian Sutil did not finish the race in his Sahara Force India car after being hit by Esteban Gutierrez.

Standings after round three: 1. Vettel 52points; 2. Raikkonen 49pts; 3. Alonso 43pts; 4. Hamilton 40pts; 5. Massa 30pts; 6. Webber 26pts; 7. Rosberg 12pts; 8. Button 12pts; 9. Grosjean 11pts; 10. Paul di Resta 8pts. Next race: Bahrain, April 21.