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Rosberg claims maiden pole for China GP

updated 9:46 AM EDT, Sat April 14, 2012
Nico Rosberg (center) flanked by Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher after the qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg (center) flanked by Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher after the qualifying session at the Chinese Grand Prix
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nico Rosberg secures first pole position of career at qualifying for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix
  • Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher will start from second, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi starts third on grid
  • Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel disappoints in qualifying and starts from 11th

(CNN) -- Mercedes' Nico Rosberg has secured the first pole position of his career at the qualifying session for Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The German driver snatched top spot on Saturday with a superb lap of one minute 35.121 seconds, over half a second faster than his nearest rival Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.

Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher finished qualifying in third place.

But the seven-time world champion will start from second place in Sunday's race after the Hamilton incurred a penalty for changing a gearbox which sees him drop down to seventh.

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Rosber's emphatic drive is the first time in 110 attempts that the 26-year-old has claimed pole and is the first time since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix that two Mercedes drivers have claimed to the top two qualifying positions.

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"It went really well and it's a very special feeling. It's fantastic, it all came together. It's perfect till now so I am very happy. It shows that we are moving forward," Rosberg said.

"We are not quite where we want to be in the races, but we are progressing. The first two races of the season have not gone too well. We've not been as good in races as qualifying lately," he added.

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But there was little joy for his compatriot and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel who will start from 11th after failing to make the final qualifying session.

It's fantastic, it all came together. It's perfect till now so I am very happy. It shows that we are moving forward
Nico Rosberg

The Red Bull driver is struggling to make an impact this season, starting the first two races of the season from seventh which were converted into finishes of 12th and 13th in Australia and Malaysia respectively.

His teammate Australia's Mark Webber fared a bit better in qualifying claiming sixth place on the starting grid.

Lewis Hamilton's demotion means Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi moves up to third on the grid, ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen.

McLaren's Jenson Button will start Sunday's race from fifth.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, winner in Malaysia three weeks ago, had a disappointing qualifying session finishing down in ninth with teammate Felipe Massa three places further back.

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