Motorsport: Rosberg on pole in China

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has stormed to a career-first pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The German son of former driver Keke Rosberg edged out McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Michael Schumacher.

But Hamilton will be pushed back five places on Sunday's starting grid as a penaly for changing his gearbox on Friday, meaning the front row will comprise two Germans driving for a German team.

There was a major shock, however, with Sebastian Vettel, Germany's two-time reigning world champion, failing to make the third qualifying stage with his time only good enough for 11th place.

Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was seventh fastest and his fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo was 17th fastest in his Toro Rosso.

"It went really well and it's a very special feeling,'' said Rosberg, 26, who has never been on pole and never won a race in 110 previous starts.

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

"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.''

The German could only manage seventh on the grid in Australia and Malaysia, before sliding down the field to end the two races 12th and 13th respectively.

Hamilton, who has said he was relishing starting further back as a result of his five-place grid penalty, admitted he would need to do something special to catch the two Mercedes at a dry but cool Shanghai International Circuit.

"We are in a good position,'' said the Briton and 2008 world champion, who took pole position in Melbourne and Sepang.

"The car feels good, but it was tough, for sure,'' Hamilton added, congratulating his friend Rosberg.

Schumacher, who came out of retirement in 2010, was full of praise for his younger teammate.

"I said `well done' and it's a bit of a surprise,'' he said.

"But for me, there's no reason to be unhappy.''

The Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi was fourth fastest ahead of the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button.

Felipe Massa was the other notable casualty of the second qualifying round in his clunky Ferrari, while teammate and current championship leader Fernando Alonso was only ninth fastest.

- AFP

_AAP

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