A shocked Daniel Ricciardo has put his Red Bull on the front row of the grid for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix.
The Australian driver was only bested on Saturday by the flying Mercedes of championship leader, Germany’s Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg recorded a time of 1:35.402, with Ricciardo just .515 seconds behind him.
Ricciardo, who it was thought would struggle for pace early in the season, was pleasantly surprised.
“I’m not sure (where the speed came from),” he said.
“To be honest I didn’t think we started Q1 from the best position in terms of the balance, and it didn’t seem we would be in a fight for the front rows but in Q3 we just found more speed.
“The super soft (tyre) can be tricky to manage here because it gets chewed up quite a bit, so between that and the engineers making a few adjustments we got a good package at the end.
“Second is pretty awesome – I didn’t expect this.”
Neither did his team, boss Christian Horner praising the Aussie for the job he did.
“I’m shocked actually, to qualify on the front row here is an incredible performance,” Horner said.
“He got quicker and quicker and quicker and just pulled it all together – he just nailed it.”
The man Ricciardo has to beat off the start is the red-hot Rosberg, who has won both the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix to start the season.
The Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel will both start from the second row of the grid after mistakes on their final flying laps cost them chances at pole.
While it was another good day for Rosberg, it was not the case for his teammate, defending champion Lewis Hamilton.
The Brit, who was already facing a five-place grid penalty for a change of gearbox, complained of a lack of power from his Mercedes engine.
Though he did go out near the end of the 18-minute session, the problem was too severe and forced him back into the pits.
“These things are sent to try us and I am sure we will learn from it,” Hamilton said.
“The car is quick, hopefully they get the issue fixed and we can have a race tomorrow.”