FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton was second fastest in qualifying for the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

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Chinese Grand Prix

* Race distance: 56 Laps (189.568 miles/305.066km)

* Start time: 15:00 (local)/07:00 (GMT)

* Circuit length: 3.387 miles/5.451km

* 2011 winner: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

* 2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari 2004)

The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire was only beaten for pace by Nico Rosberg in Q3.

Rosberg bagged provisional pole for Mercedes with his first flying run ahead of Hamilton with a blistering lap of 1m 35.121s. Hamilton clocked a 1m 35.626s.

With the temperature dropping, neither could go faster with their second runs, handing Rosberg his first pole position.

Hamilton, however, will take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, dropping him down to seventh on the starting grid for tomorrow’s race in China.

Michael Schumacher was third fastest in qualifying, and will form an all Mercedes front row in China as a result of Hamilton’s penalty.

Kamui Kobayashi was fourth in qualifying for Sauber ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, with Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button sixth. Mark Webber was seventh for Red Bull.

They will all shunt up one place on the grid with Hamilton dropping down to seventh to start on the fourth row alongside Sergio Perez.

After his first run in Q3, the McLaren pitwall told Hamilton: “Box this lap. Four cars have set times, you are P2. Main time to find is 1.5 tenths in each sector. New tyres to come.”

"I love the challenge of coming through and gaining positions."

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton was sixth fastest in Q2 around the Shanghai International Circuit.

Before heading out in Q3, he was told over the radio: “The sun has gone in a bit, so the track temperature is dropping. We might have to work the front tyres a bit harder on the out-lap.”

World F1 champion Sebastian Vettel surprisingly failed to make the top 10 shootout, the Red Bull driver only posting the 11th best time to be one of the shock Q2 fallers.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was another casualty in the second phase of qualifying.

He will start 12th.

It wasn’t a good day for Ferrari, with Fernando Alonso only managing ninth place.

The 2012 Grand Prix of China starts at 8am BST on Sunday.

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