Shanghai, April 14, 2012 (AFP) - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton paid tribute to his close friend Nico Rosberg on Saturday after the Mercedes driver stormed to a career-first pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.
Rosberg secured his maiden pole in comprehensive style, more than half a second ahead of next-placed Hamilton, who drops down to seventh on the grid because of a penalty for changing gearbox.
The Briton, who was on pole for the first two grands prix of the season, reflected on not "such a bad lap" for himself, but appeared more happy for his German rival.
"Big congratulations to Nico, it's fantastic and really done in style. It's quite a big gap between us," said the 2008 world champion.
"I'm very proud of him and obviously we grew up racing together and always dreamed of being in Formula One together and now we're on the front row together. Obviously I've got a penalty but still, it's a good day."
Warming to the theme, Hamilton added: "It's fantastic to see him up there and for us to qualify on the front row, for me, is a quite a cool feeling because we were team-mates back in 2000 and good friends from way before that."
Hamilton, whose two pole positions in Australia and Malaysia were soured by disappointing third-place finishes at both, said trying to catch the
"massively quick" Mercedes on Sunday was a stiff challenge. I have a lot of work ahead of me. Just moving forward is what I'll be aiming for and obviously to finish the race. Then we'll just see what happens from there," he said.
"You know anything can happen here with the weather. These guys are going to be massively quick, so I wish them all the best, but I just hope me and Jenson (Button) can make our way forward and score some valuable points."