WATCH LIVE: Chinese Grand Prix Race Day on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET

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Lewis Hamilton may have been forced to settle for second place behind Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in Malaysia two weeks ago, but the defending Formula 1 world champion proved on Saturday he is still the man to beat by claiming pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Despite failing to improve his time at the end of Q3, Hamilton’s lap was good enough for his fifth pole position at the Shanghai International Circuit. Nico Rosberg will start alongside his teammate on the front row of the grid as he bids to avoid a ninth defeat in the last ten races to the Briton.

With Vettel looming large behind the Silver Arrows in third place on the grid, the stage is set for a close fight at the front of the field in China on Sunday.

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.

Hamilton has continued his love affair with the race in China this weekend by topping every single session, always managing to find those extra few tenths to beat Rosberg. Even when he made a mistake in the final part of qualifying and failed to improve his time, the German driver could not get on top. His frustration was clear for all to hear in his post-session radio cry of: “Oh come on you guys!”

Ferrari should draw closer to Mercedes during the race, given how competitive its long-run pace in FP2 on Friday was, but a repeat of its win in Malaysia seems unlikely. Pirelli expects all drivers to two-stop, and although a one-stop race is possible, it would leave those brave enough to take a punt on it scrambling at the end of the race.

Just behind Ferrari, a great battle for P5 appears to be on the cards between Williams and Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo told NBCSN that he was surprised by Williams’ qualifying pace, whilst Felipe Massa appeared more focused on the cars ahead. With the likes of Lotus, Toro Rosso and even Sauber circling just behind, any mistakes could be particularly costly in China.

The same is true for Hamilton and Rosberg. This may only be the prologue to their main saga in 2015, but the foundations for another spectacular title fight are already being laid.

You can watch the Chinese Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30am ET on Sunday. CLICK HERE to watch via live stream.