Hamilton achieves hat trick of poles this season with P1 in China

Hamilton China 2015

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton scored his third successive pole position this season after fending off his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by four hundredths of a second to take P1 at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Hamilton had been the favourite for the top spot after setting the quickest lap in all three practice sessions plus Q2.

His first Q3 run with a time of one minute, 35.782 seconds underlined his status as number one. Rosberg was unable to compete and was three tenths behind.

The gap between the Silver Arrows was reduced to 0.042 seconds in the final Q3 run, set by Rosberg but last season’s runner-up was left feeling frustrated on missing out on P1.

Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel was nearly a second off Hamilton’s pole time in third position for Ferrari.

That denied the Williams pair of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, which were top-three contenders but ultimately found themselves three tenths and half a second down on Vettel respectively.

They still managed to beat Kimi Raikkonen, who was sixth ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

His Red Bull team-mate Daniil Kvyat failed to reach Q3 and will start the race in P12.

Romain Grosjean was eighth for Lotus, while Pastor Maldonado missed out on Q3 by just 0.007 seconds and will line up in P11.

The most improved team in qualifying was Sauber. Both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson will the start the Chinese Grand Prix on row five ahead of Toro Rosso.

After scoring his first championship point in the last race, Max Verstappen made a mistake when locking up heavily on his final run. His team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr will share row seven.

McLaren’s encouraging practice times proved deceptive as Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso found themselves out in Q1 and on row nine, just 0.004 seconds apart.

At least McLaren-Honda was within a tenth of the Force Indias. Nico Hulkenberg only got ahead of Button with a final Q1 effort, while Sergio Perez scraped through into Q2 then languished seven tenths off the Toro Rossos.

The Manor-run Marussias were three seconds off the tail of the field but made the 107 per cent target in Q1 so are both clear to start the Chinese Grand Prix, Will Stevens ahead of Roberto Merhi.

So pole position number 41 for Lewis Hamilton. The reigning world champion has serious speed and confidence in the Mercedes this season.

It’s going to be fascinating if his team-mate Nico Rosberg can challenge for race victory but will Sebastian Vettel spoil the party once again, just like Malaysia? We shall find on on race day in China.

Hamilton China 2015 pole

Qualifying positions, Chinese Grand Prix:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m35.782s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m35.824s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m36.687s
4    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m36.954s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m37.143s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m37.232s
7    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m37.540s
8    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m37.905s
9    Felipe Nasr          Sauber-Ferrari    1m38.067s
10    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m38.158s
11    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m38.134s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m38.209s
13    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.393s
14    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m38.538s
15    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m39.290s
16    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m39.216s
17    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m39.276s
18    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m39.280s
19    Will Stevens    Manor-Ferrari    1m42.091s
20    Roberto Merhi    Manor-Ferrari    1m42.842s

6 thoughts to “Hamilton achieves hat trick of poles this season with P1 in China”

  1. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel has saved a set of softs which will be handy for the race. Autosport.com has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel hopes that saving a set of soft tyres from qualifying will boost Ferrari’s chances of properly challenging Mercedes at the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix.

    The German only did one run in Q3 at Shanghai – well aware that on single lap pace his Mercedes rivals have a decent advantage – to secure third on the grid.

    But with long run form looking much closer, Vettel remains optimistic that not using all the tyres in a desperate bid to do better in qualifying could prove beneficial in the race.

    “I think we knew it would be tough in qualifying to be really close,” he said. “Q1 and especially Q2 look promising.

    “In Q3 it was a bit more like what we saw in practice, so quite a large gap for us.

    “But we’re fairly happy to make sure we are right behind them.

    “Obviously we want to close the gap, and maybe tomorrow we will be closer, but for now we are reasonably happy.

    “It’s a bit of a shame not to get both cars on the second row, I think as I was told, Kimi [Raikkonen] got a bit unlucky on [his] warm up lap.

    “But in tomorrow’s race, we should have the pace. We will see what we can do.”

    Raikkonen will start sixth and Vettel defended the decision by Ferrari to run soft tyres in Q1 – because the team appeared to have the pace to get through on mediums.

    “I think it was probably possible but very, very close,” he said. “So if you don’t make it, you start the race from P16 or P17.

    “I think that is why we decided to do that.”

  2. As for his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, The Iceman is now fed up with his series of bad qualifying ‘habit’. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Kimi Raikkonen says he needs to break his “habit” of troubled Formula 1 qualifying sessions as he rued another lost opportunity at the Chinese Grand Prix.

    While team-mate Sebastian Vettel put his Ferrari in third place on the grid, Raikkonen could manage no better than sixth after losing time in the first section of the lap.

    Raikkonen said he was not sure why things were so difficult in the first part of the lap but says that the time for excuses is now past.

    “It is just how difficult it was in the first three corners in the last try,” said Raikkonen when explaining what had gone wrong.

    “I lost so much time in corner three basically that I was a bit surprised.

    “The car had been behaving very well and in the last run it was not so easy there for some reason.

    “The laptime was pretty much done there – you couldn’t catch up.”

    Raikkonen was convinced that the change of wind direction had not been a factor.

    “Obviously it was different from yesterday but I don’t know what happened,” he said.

    “I got a loose car and lost an awful lot of time from that corner to the next corner.

    “Maybe it is my fault. Maybe it just happened. But it is disappointing anyhow.

    “It is not a complete disaster, but it seems to become a habit. I would rather get rid of it.

    “For the race we have a good car. It has been behaving well all weekend.

    “Today was not ideal with the last set of tyres, but we will do our best for tomorrow and see where we end up.”

  3. Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull’s brakes now consistent despite a low grid position. Autosport.com has the story.

    Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull’s move back to its 2014 brake specification for the Chinese Grand Prix has cured the consistency issues that plagued its Formula 1 season to date.

    While Renault’s F1 power unit provided the team’s biggest headache in Australia, Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo could only manage ninth and 10th in Malaysia a fortnight ago as they struggled with overheating front brakes.

    Red Bull elected to revert from Hitco to the Brembo brake materials it used in 2014 for this weekend’s race, and the Australian said the pedal consistency they sought had returned.

    “In feeling and performance, it’s pretty similar,” he said of the switch.

    “Consistency is what we were after. I think we’ve got that back now.

    “We tried a few different materials for the first few races, but there was too much variation as the race went on. Malaysia was pretty extreme, but even in Melbourne [as well].

    “On one lap they were feeling pretty good, but they weren’t holding up as well, and I think with what we’ve got now it’s at least pretty consistent.”

    Ricciardo was third on Friday, between the Ferraris and ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, but could only manage seventh in qualifying.

    With Kvyat and both Toro Rossos eliminated in Q2, he was the only Renault-powered driver in the top 10, and suggested rival manufacturers were able to extend their power advantage in qualifying trim.

    “Maybe Mercedes and Ferrari are putting in a bit more juice on Saturday,” he said.

    “I guess they’ve got a bit more juice available as well.

    “We obviously would have hoped for a top five, but Williams always seem to come on strong on a Saturday.

    “So there’s not too much more we could have done and that’s what it is on one-lap pace.

    “I think race pace should look better, at least compared to Williams. I think we can challenge them tomorrow.”

    Russian Kvyat qualified 12th, his session hampered by an engine issue.

    It came a day after he missed most of practice two when overheating in the hub assembly caused his rear brakes to seize (pictured).

    “I need a normal session,” he conceded.

    “Now we have to look to [strategy], because I didn’t do any long runs, and I am starting outside the top 10.

    “We have to look what could be the best option for us to take advantage from some teams; [we] might try one, three, two stops, something like that.

    “And then you might improvise during the race – see how the tyres behave, then you choose your best route.”

  4. Yet again this was a difficult qualifying session for McLaren-Honda, but Jenson Button was left feeling surprised by the team’s earlier exit in Q1. Autosport.com provides the details.

    Jenson Button was “puzzled” that the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 team was eliminated from Chinese Grand Prix qualifying in Q1 given the encouraging pace it showed in Shanghai practice.

    Button gave McLaren its first top-10 result in any session of the 2015 F1 season when he went 10th-quickest in Friday afternoon practice.

    That raised hopes of a significant step forward from McLaren, but both Button and Fernando Alonso ended qualifying on row nine again.

    “I think we thought we would be closer to the top 10 – not that we were going to get into the top 10, but I thought we would be a little bit closer, so I’m a little bit surprised actually,” he said.

    “In practice we seemed quite competitive, and maybe we just ran less fuel than other people, but I would be surprised.

    “If you compare us to the guys at the front, that gap is pretty much the same as yesterday.

    “It’s more that the cars that we were in front of yesterday have stepped up, or they’ve got the car working, or had issues yesterday like [Felipe] Massa did.

    “We couldn’t find a balance that really worked. But in saying that, it wasn’t too bad either.

    “It wasn’t the perfect lap, but even so I wouldn’t have got us into Q2. So a little bit puzzling.”

    Alonso missed all of final practice after his car came to a halt on his out-lap.

    McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said the issue was relatively small.

    “It was an ignition issue in the car, which is related to some little parts failure,” he said.

    “It cost time to repair, but mainly because we had to be precautionary and check the engine that everything was fine.”

    Alonso said his hope for the grand prix was primarily to finish.

    “It’s going to be a difficult day in terms of performance, in terms of position, in terms of battling with other cars, in terms of deficit compared to the main competitors,” he said.

    “I think in the learning process that we’re in the middle of now, to finish the race is the main priority.

    “That’s how I approach the race, how I approach the strategy, the number of pitstops, the laps to the pitstops, everything will be put into account to make the car finish and to get some experience.

    “I think we have to be positive, but also with feet on the ground.”

  5. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg says tyre wear will give Ferrari a chance in the Chinese Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Nico Rosberg says the Pirelli Formula 1 tyres will be “on the edge” in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, which could allow Ferrari to threaten Mercedes’ chances of victory again.

    Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, winner in Malaysia, was Mercedes’ closest challenger in qualifying, but the four-time world champion was nine tenths off Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg’s pace in third.

    However, despite the sizeable gap between the two teams, Rosberg is not discounting a threat from the Scuderia, which again appears to be kinder on its tyres compared to Mercedes.

    “It’s going to be a very challenging race because we have the option [soft] tyre to start off with and that’s going to fall apart at some point quite dramatically,” said Rosberg.

    “There is going to be a lot going on at that time of the race.

    “The Ferraris might be able to go longer than us, as we have seen in Malaysia, so I wonder how that will play in with the strategy.

    “Even with the prime [medium] tyre, it’s going to be on the edge.”

    Rosberg missed out on pole position to team-mate Lewis Hamilton by less than half a tenth in what was the closest qualifying gap between the Mercedes duo since the season began, leaving the German visibly unhappy at the end of qualifying.

    “Yeah, I’m frustrated,” he said. “I want to be on pole. It was a good lap, it was 99.5 per cent but not 100. Four hundredths is just a blink of an eye.”

    But despite being beaten by Hamilton in qualifying for the third time this season, the German believes the high level of degradation being felt by all the teams leaves the race very open.

    “There are plenty of opportunities,” he said. “That’s the great thing.

    “In Melbourne, there was no opportunity. I was very, very close, but there was just one strategy there and no tyre degradation so there was no opportunity for me to take.

    “Tomorrow, there are many opportunities.”

  6. Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team must be prepared to be flexible with strategy calls in the future, in the wake of its defeat to Ferrari in Malaysia.

    Mercedes chose to pit both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg when the safety car was deployed at Sepang, rather than splitting strategies, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel stayed out in clear air.

    That forced Mercedes into a three-stop strategy for both its drivers and saw them lose time cutting back through the field, while Vettel’s two-stop plan enabled the German to clinch victory.

    Wolff said the increased pressure from rivals, in this case Ferrari, means Mercedes could split strategies between its drivers in future.

    “Probably we need to reflect the increased competition with our strategy calls,” said Wolff.

    “You don’t want to repeat what you did in Sepang, sticking out the second car, because you are losing a handful of seconds behind the first car, you’re coming out in traffic.

    “Probably there could have been a different call and will be a different call for the future.

    “We would split the strategies if it is not clear to us which one is the better one and if we need to mirror the other team, at least with one of the cars, which we didn’t do in Sepang.”

    Wolff said that Mercedes tried to stay as fair as possible between drivers last year and he remains keen not to compromise one driver’s race to benefit another.

    “What we always tried last year was very fair and square for the drivers, and stayed as much as possible neutral so they do not argue at the end of the race,” said Wolff.

    “If you put them on a slower tyre or you try to bunch up the field, whoever that driver is is going to protest; you don’t want to do that. You don’t want to compromise the race.”

    Source: Autosport.com

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