SHANGHAI, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Red Bull's German driver Sebastian Vettel grabbed his third straight pole position this season, topping the qualifying session for the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday.
Vettel, who also headed the grid in Australia and Malaysia and swept both titles, clocked a fastest time of one minute, 33.706 seconds in the 5.451-km Shanghai International Circuit.
The 23-year-old German are now standing atop of the drivers' standings with 50 full points.
"We have done it again, but every single time is tough. I think today was not as straightforward as we palned," said Vettel, who tops the drivers' standings with 50 points.
"I think we did a good job today. But it is just eight meters on the track tomorrow. It will be a long race, but I think we can be happy with the car. We did some good long runs on Friday and so we have a reason to feel good, but it's also a threat to feel too good. So I pay attention that doesn't happen."
There were not all good news for Red Bull, the leader in the constructors' standings with 72 points, as Mark Webber got eliminated in the first qualifying session (Q1) due to KERS problem and an over-confident strategy. And he will have to start 18th tomorrow.
"I can't remember the last time I was out in Q1; it was a long, long time ago, so it was a bad day for us," said a despondent Webber.
The technical issues-plagued Australian had shown a lackluster performance so for in Shanghai, never managing to make any dent after finishing second in the opening free practice.
"It's a very frustrating day. We didn't have a smooth P3 (third free practice) or Q1 and we paid the ultimate price at end of the day. We thought we had enough to get through on the prime tyres, we have the pace, but I couldn't get the tyre working on my second run. We'll see what we can do tonight, but I can only go forwards. "
Team McLaren, second placer in the team table with 48 points, continued to pose great threat to Red Bull, as Jenson Button joined Vettel in the front row in 1:34.421. The other McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton clocked a time of 1:34.463 for third place.
"After Q2, I thought we'd have a shot at pole today, but, looking at Sebastian's final laptime, second place was realistically all we could do. Still, it's great that we got two cars into the top three - we really extracted the maximum from the package today," said Button, champion of 2009, who reached his best grid position of the season.
"The car felt really consistent all afternoon and I got pretty much everything out of it. For tomorrow, I think our race pace will be a little bit closer to Red Bull than our qualifying pace."
McLaren chosed a single-run strategy for Hamilton in Q3 to enable the Briton to have a fresh set of tyres for the race.
"Of course, that was a compromise, but it means I'll have a fresh set of tyres for one of the stints tomorrow. And last week's race in Malaysia showed us how important it is to have fresh tyres for the race. Today's strategy should increase my chances in the race. It's always good to have a fresh set of tyres in the bag, and I wanted to make sure I had options to cover everything," said Hamilton.
The whole qualifying session was raced in overcast conditions but the rain did not fall. Although team manager Ross Brown anticipated that the rain would bring more opportunities for Mercedes GP to succeed, German driver Nico Rosberg did a quite good job by holding onto the fourth spot in the dry conditions.
Former world champion Fernando Alonso finished fifth, ahead of his Farrari teammate Felipe Massa.
Jaime Alguersuari of Toro Rosso will start seventh on the grid as the Spaniard edged Paul di Resta from Force India. Alguersuari's teammate Sebastien Buemi took the ninth.
The Q2 was red-flagged after Renault driver Vitaly Pertrov's car suffered power failures and stopped on the circuit. The Russian still managed to enter the Q3 but did not return to the track again and will start tenth on Sunday.
"I am very disappointed with what happened after having just completed a very fast lap which put me in fourth position at the end of Q2. The car lost power so I stopped on the side of the track. The track was getting quicker and my times were up from the morning. Things were going well,"said Pertrov.
"Because of the power failure. I could not move off the track and so that was the end of my qualifying. The positive thing is the car was looking fast and I hope I can make up some ground tomorrow from P10 on the grid."
It was not a lucky day for Renault, who both witnessed podium finishes in the previous two races, as Pertrov's teammate Nick Heidfeld was eiliminated because he could not dash for a considerable laptime in the busy track after Q2 resumed.
"It's quite frustrating to be starting from P16 because I don't think it is a reflection of our pace," said Heidfeld. "The (red) flag made the last few minutes on Q2 very busy. I managed to do one last lap butI was stuck in the traffic and I couldn't get a clean lap."
Seven times world champ Michael Schumacher still failed to stage a convincing performance, only earning a 14th start after dropping out in Q2.