Nascar Bristol Motor Speedway 2018

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If Ferrari’s pole in Bahrain was a bit of a surprise, then their pole here yesterday was a shock. Not so much that it happened – the gaps were close in FP2 and they headed the field in FP3 – but by how much. Both Ferraris were over half-a-second ahead of both Mercedes cars.

Mercedes were closer to the Red Bulls behind them – and that will worry them. Not only have Mercedes never been beaten, but they have historically dominated here – securing all poles and all wins in the v6 hybrid turbo era which started in 2014. Lewis Hamilton has taken three of those wins and has won here five times in total. He starts, for the second time in a row, behind his team-mate Valtteri Bottas. This has been as much a Mercedes track as anywhere else on the calendar.

Why Mercedes were so far off Ferrari’s pace will have the Brackley-based team scratching their heads. Toto Wolff believed that it was simply too cold for them to get their ultrasoft tyres into the correct operating temperatures. They seemed to fare better on the soft compounds, though, and that is what all top four cars will start the race on. Either way, it feels like a significant moment.

Red Bull had a mixed day – qualifying fifth and sixth – but the fact that they got Daniel Ricciardo’s car out in qualifying at all seemed like a miracle following his power unit failure in FP3 on Saturday. They will hope that they get the chance to get in amongst it and disrupt the Mercedes at the start on quicker tyres. They endured an awful double retirement in Bahrain so will hope to secure a solid points total today. Ricciardo has said he is targeting the podium. The Red Bulls, though, start on the less durable ultrasoft tyre – so they may stop quite early, certainly earlier than Mercedes or Ferrari.

The best-of-the-rest driver was Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault in P7. Sergio Perez capped a much-improved Force India performance with eighth, Carlos Sainz starts in ninth in his Renault and Romain Grosjean’s Haas is in P10.  Certainly Renault, Force India and Haas have been the next three quickest teams so far in China, with McLaren trailing. Alonso starts in P13 just ahead of Vandoorne in P14. We’ll be here for the next few hours, bringing you all the updates and reaction from the Chinese Grand Prix. It should be a good one.

Since you’re here … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as £1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute.If your loyalties are towards entertainment rather than either of the teams, like me you’ll be looking at Max Verstappen coming off the row behind Lewis Hamilton towards the first corner.Last week Lewis used that classic Commonwealth term “dickhead” to describe the Red Bull man.

They’ve since patched things up semi-convincingly, but if there’s any hint of contact between the two today the post-race scenes could become chaotic. Not Connor McGregor throwing a barricade at a bus chaotic, but the sort of passive aggressive feud that F1 excels at.\Lewis Hamilton is the king of the Chinese Grand Prix, with five career wins. The heat is on today, needing to get past his teammate and two Ferraris to add a sixth. Fernando Alonso (x2) and Kimi Raikkonen are the only other previous winners in the field today.

Any chance of a replay of the Spinal Tap-esque incident pre-race where a kid asked Lewis for an autograph via a black marker on a black hat? After generously pondering where he was supposed to write and turning it over a few times to try and find an appropriate spot he just wrote on it and hoped for the best. Your copy of the footage will help that child prove to his mates at school tomorrow that he really did meet the world champion.

TV coverage of the F1 season in the UK has been split across Sky Sports and Channel 4, although the satellite channel will show ever race, even the ones that feature on terrestrial TV.Channel 4 only have the rights to 10 of the season’s races spread across the year, starting with the second Grand Prix of 2018 in Bahrain.But the Chinese Grand Prix is back exclusively on Sky Sports.

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