Sebastian Vettel's perfect Chinese Grand Prix weekend continued today as he eased to a dominant pole position in Shanghai.

The Red Bull driver topped all three practice sessions coming into qualifying and did not disappoint his legion of fans when it mattered most, taking top spot with a best time of one minute 33.706 seconds.

McLaren's Jenson Button took second, over seven tenths down on the German, while the Briton's team-mate Lewis Hamilton was third.

Despite Vettel's crushing display, it was not all plain sailing for Red Bull.

Mark Webber was the victim of more KERS drama and poor tyre selection as he went out at the first hurdle, leaving the Australian with it all to do from 18th place tomorrow afternoon.

Button set the benchmark early in Q3 with a 1:34.421, but championship leader Vettel, as he has done all weekend, duly responded with six minutes remaining, setting a time that would not be bettered to claim his third pole in as many races this season.

Nico Rosberg impressed as he took his Brackley-built Mercedes to fourth place, while the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were fifth and sixth respectively.

Toro Rosso enjoyed a hugely encouraging session, with Jaime Alguersuari seventh and team-mate Sebastien Buemi ninth, sandwiching the Force India of Britain's Paul di Resta, who celebrated his 25th birthday with eighth place.

Enstone-based Renault's Vitaly Petrov will line up 10th after failing to feature in the shootout having suffered a car failure moments after posting the fourth-fastest time in Q2. His team-mate Nick Heidfeld starts in 16th.

The Williams drivers Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado start 15th and 17th on the grid.