Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will start the 2013 Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix from pole position. The 2008 world champion marks his first pole for his new team and will have Lotus-Renault's Kimi Raikkonen for company on the front row, with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in third.
Where to Watch Race Live
The Chinese Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 8am BST on Sunday 14 April. Live coverage is on Sky F1 (starting 6.30am BST), BBC One (starting 7am BST) and BBC Sport Interactive Freeview 1 and 1 HD (starting 7.50am BST).
Radio commentary is on BBC Radio 5 live, starting at 7.45am BST and real-time updates can be accessed on the Internet through the Live Timing section of the sport's official website.
Hamilton is perfectly placed to secure a third Chinese Grand Prix win on Sunday afternoon, after his time of 1:34.484 proved 0.277s faster than Raikkonen's and 0.304s ahead of Alonso in his Ferrari.
The qualifying session was a strangely subdued one though, with tyre wear worrying most teams. Pirelli have brought the soft and medium compound rubbers to the Shanghai International Circuit. The former set wears through particularly quickly and although it provides the fastest times, the fact there are only limited numbers per driver means there is the obvious trade-off to consider.
Essentially - do you go faster than everyone else in qualifying but risk burning through an extra set of soft tyres or moderate Saturday pace to maximise speed in the race?
Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel, who qualified a disappointing ninth, hinted the Milton Keynes outfit might well have taken the latter option. The defending world champion qualified for the top ten shoot-out in qualifying but chose not to participate, settling for a ninth-row start and saving a set of soft tyres for the race.
"I believe that the soft tyres will not be able to complete a bigger distance. We saw that clearly on Friday. Over a single lap we know that the softs are much faster but we are talking about a race distance," the German explained, adding that he expected car weight at the start of the race (when heavy with fuel) to also play a role in tyre degradation, making the medium compounds the more intelligent option.
Concerns over tyre wear would also have factored into decisions made by Ferrari and Mercedes but both sides opted to run the extra set of soft tyres (the Option) in the third qualifying session; the differences in the times seem to back Vettel's statements.
What is interesting though, and perhaps serves a better indicator of what to expect in the race, are times from the second qualifying session, when the cars were running on the Prime (medium) compounds - the German clocked 1:35.343 in Q2, compared to Hamilton's 1:35.078 and Alonso's 1:35.148.
Granted the differences are very small but it does suggest the Red Bull's outright qualifying pace, which gave the side an immense advantage last season, may have been eroded by Ferrari and the others.
The McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez endured a frustrating afternoon, with the former in eighth and the latter in 12th. Button, the 2009 world champion, posted an awfully slow Q3 time - 2:05.673. However, the good news is the team ran medium tyres in the final session, saving a set of the Options for the race.
"This was the best we could do with what we have. Nevertheless, I think we should be very happy with our qualifying performance: we don't really have the pace of the front-running cars yet," a pleased Button said after the session.
Button, Vettel and Sauber-Ferrari's Nico Hulkenberg, three drivers in the top ten who will start on the medium tyres, will all look to benefit from early pit stops for the drivers in front. High tyre wear will probably force drivers on soft compounds to pit by the tenth lap (of a 56 lap race). The challenge for medium tyre runners, then, will be to match and beat the pace of those cars on soft tyres.
Starting Grid Updates
Meanwhile, the race organisers have confirmed that Mark Webber, Vettel's team-mate, has been demoted to the back of the grid for fuel irregularities. The Australian qualified in 14th but will now start 22nd, behind the Marussia-Cosworth and Cateham-Renault teams.
For the provisional starting grid, click here. The final starting grid will be released by the FIA on Sunday morning.
Expect temperatures in the 20C range tomorrow afternoon, with a strong wind of 25/30 km/h from a north and north-easterly direction. The mercury is expected to drop sharply by 5pm local time (10am BST). Cloud cover is unlikely to be a factor, meaning sunshine will be the order of the day. The best news, though, is absolutely no rain is forecast.