Hamilton penalty leaves pole spot up for grabs at Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton will go into qualifying at the Shanghai circuit as the 5/4 favourite to record the fastest time in Q3.

However, thanks to an issue with the gearbox on his McLaren, the 2008 world champion will start Sunday’s race no higher than sixth on the grid, after being hit with a five-place penalty in order to change the faulty part.

Hamilton qualified with the fastest times in both Malaysia and Australia and will need to do so again here to stand a strong chance of battling it out for the chequered flag come the final lap of the race in China.

This means there can only be one McLaren at the front of the grid come race day, and fellow Brit and team mate of Hamilton, Jenson Button, will be looking to claim his first pole of the season and he is 7/2 to clock the fastest lap time in Q3 on Saturday.

Michael Schumacher has qualified well in the first two races of the season, starting fourth in Australia and third in Malaysia. The seven-time world champion looks good value at 12/1 to qualify as the fastest man in China.

Issues with the Ferrari car mean that they have struggled to even qualify in the top ten both times out this year, with Fernando Alonso qualifying ninth before going on to win in Sepang, he is an outside shot at 25/1 to qualify on pole in Shanghai.

Red Bull have so far struggled for pace in qualifying with neither car qualifying higher than first. Sebastian Vettel will want to get back to the front of the grid, where he spent much of last season, and with Hamilton out of the way he looks good value at 11/2 to do so.

Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber has Red Bull’s highest position on the grid so far, with a fourth-placed start in Malaysia, the Australian can be backed at 10/1 to start at the head of the field come Sunday.

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