Hamilton edges out Vettel for Chinese Grand Prix pole

Lewis Hamilton was victorious in his qualifying fight with  Sebastian Vettel to claim pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix.

No more than two tenths of a second covered the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers after the first runs in Q2, with Vettel fractionally ahead of Hamilton, followed by Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen.

The Iceman actually breaking a new lap record at the Shanghai International Circuit. Beating Michael Schumacher’s achievement for Ferrari.

But Hamilton stepped up a gear at the start of Q3, leading Vettel by almost two tenths of a second after the first runs despite running wide out of Turn 3 and suffering a snap of oversteer at the exit of Turn 11.

The Mercedes driver improved to a one minute, 31.678 seconds best on his final run with a cleaner lap, claiming pole by just 0.186 seconds.

Vettel joined Hamilton in the one minute, 31 seconds on his own final flying lap, but he failed to improve in sector one and lost out. When informed by Ferrari he had missed pole by two tenths, Vettel reckoned “I didn’t have that” time in the car.

Bottas put in an excellent final lap in Q3, but missed out on beating Vettel to the front row by just one thousandth of a second.

Raikkonen fell away in Q3, ending up fourth complaining of understeer, nearly three tenths back from Bottas.

Red Bull reckoned Daniel Ricciard got everything out of his car in posting the fifth quickest time, nearly 1.5 seconds away from pole but almost half a second clear of Felipe Massa’s Williams.

Nico Hulkenberg was sixth fastest in Q2 and chose to complete his solo Q3 run at the start of that session instead of the end, but this was still good enough for seventh position for Renault.

Force India’s Sergio Perez was eighth, just ahead of Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso, while rookie Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten in for Williams on his first Q3 appearance.

The battle to make it into the top ten shootout was extremely tight between Stroll, Perez, the Toro Rossos, and Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

Carlos Sainz missed the cut by just 0.060 seconds after failing to improve on his second Q2 run, while Magnussen was only 0.014 seconds further back in P12.

Fernando Alonso pushed like an animal in the McLaren-Honda to make the top ten in Q1 and eventually qualify P13, just over two tenths down on the Haas and almost seven tenths clear of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.

Sauber unexpectedly got both cars through to Q2, thanks to Antonio Giovinazzi crashing heavily at the final corner just as the chequered flag came out at the end of Q1 – which delayed other drivers who were yet to complete their laps.

The Ferrari reserved driver took no part in Q2 so was classified P16, ahead of Romain Grosjean’s Haas, Jolyon Palmer’s Renault, and Esteban Ocon’s Force India, which all had to abort their final flying laps in Q1.

McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne was unaffected, but his best lap was not good enough to displace Giovinazzi, so Vandoorne missed the cut by just 0.060 seconds.

Melbourne qualifying star Grosjean had earlier spun exiting the final corner, ruining his first Q1 run, so he wound up only P17, two tenths behind Vandoorne.

Palmer was P18 and Ocon last, both sandwiching the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who struggled with an engine software issue throughout the session.

Both Grosjean and Palmer are also under investigation by the FIA, for allegedly failing to slow sufficiently under yellow flags at the end of Q1.

So a tight and exciting battle in qualifying between Mercedes and Ferrari. Rain is forecasted on race day and this is going to make it a thrilling contest. Game on.

Chinese Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m31.678s
2    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m31.864s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m31.865s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m32.140s
5    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m33.033s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m33.507s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m33.580s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m33.706s
9    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m33.719s
10    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m34.220s
11    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m34.150s
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m34.164s
13    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m34.372s
14    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.046s
15    Antonio Giovinazzi    Sauber-Ferrari    –
16    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m35.023s
17    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m35.223s
18    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m35.279s
19    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m35.433s
20    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m35.496s

5 thoughts on “Hamilton edges out Vettel for Chinese Grand Prix pole

  1. Chinese Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth successive pole position on Saturday, as he pulled out all the stops to top qualifying for the 2017 Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix, after Ferrari had led the first two phases of the session. It was another close fight between Mercedes and the Scuderia, with Sebastian Vettel splitting the silver cars, only a tenth off Hamilton and just a thousandth of a second ahead of Valtteri Bottas in third.

    At the other end of the grid, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start from the back row.

    Vettel yet again stamped Ferrari’s authority on Q1, taking away Hamilton’s 1m 33.333s top spot with 1m 33.078s as Raikkonen was third on 1m 33.341s from Bottas on 1m 33.684s. Interestingly, where everyone else opted for supersoft tyres, the Ferrari drivers used softs… Also outstanding were Stroll, who lapped his Williams fifth fastest in 1m 33.986s, and Alonso who was 10th for McLaren on 1m 34.499s.

    The unluckiest man appeared to be Romain Grosjean. He was completing a second lap after recording 1m 48.622s when he spun his Haas exiting the final corner, Turn 16. He ruined his tyres and sustained a puncture as a result, but was fortunate enough to limp home and improve to 1m 35.223s to take 17th slot behind Stoffel Vandoorne on 1m 35.023s for McLaren.

    However, Pascal Wehrlein stand-in Antonio Giovinazzi also blotted his copybook there when he spun and heavily damaged his Sauber against the wall. But he was in P15 at the time, and his indiscretion prevented anyone behind from beating him. Thus the really unlucky one was Verstappen who was struggling with an engine software problem and could only do 1m 35.433s in his RB12, which left him 19th behind a troubled Jolyon Palmer on 1m 35.279s in his Renault, and just ahead of an equally unhappy Esteban Ocon on 1m 35.496s in his Force India.

    There was a delay of 10 minutes as walls were repaired. And it was announced that both Grosjean and Palmer were under investigation for ignoring yellow flags.

    Vettel was again fastest in Q2, with 1m 32.391s, but Hamilton was close with 1m 32.406s ahead of Bottas on 1m 32.552s and Raikkonen on 1m 32.602s. But with the sectors divided up as BOT, HAM, VET, nobody could be said to have achieved an optimum lap yet. As Mercedes stayed in the garage, the Ferraris ran again; Vettel did not improve but Raikkonen went fastest with 1m 32.181s.

    This time the fallers were Carlos Sainz on 1m 34.150s in his Toro Rosso, Kevin Magnussen on 1m 34.164s in his Haas, Alonso on 1m 34.372s and Marcus Ericsson on 1m 35.046s in his Sauber, thanks to last-minute jumps from Hulkenberg and Perez for Renault and Force India respectively.

    Thus Q3 shaped up as a humdinger. Could Mercedes wrest back their usual advantage, or would the Prancing Horse continue to hold sway?

    In the first runs Hamilton aced it with 1m 31.902s despite a big slide in the second sector, with Vettel next on 1m 32.086s from Bottas on 1m 32.265s and Raikkonen slumping with 1m 32.616s complaining of poor rear-end grip and asking whether his previous settings had been changed.

    Could Hamilton hang on to a 63rd pole?

    Yes, was the answer, as a tidier lap yielded 1m 31.678s. Vettel cut down to 1m 31.864s, snatching second place back from Bottas. Raikkonen still struggled, though, and had to be content with fourth on 1m 32.140s.

    Ricciardo did his usual great job to put Red Bull fifth on 1m 33.033s as Massa pushed his Williams into sixth on 1m 33.507s ahead of Hulkenberg on 1m 33.580s, Perez on 1m 33.706s, Kvyat on 1m 33.719s and Stroll on a decent 1m 34.220s.

    Thus the provisional grid will line up as: Hamilton, Vettel; Bottas, Raikkonen; Ricciardo, Massa; Hulkenberg, Perez; Kvyat, Stroll; Sainz; Magnussen, Alonso; Ericsson, Giovinazzi, Vandoorne; Grosjean, Palmer; Verstappen, Ocon.

  2. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso labelled his Chinese Grand Prix qualifying position a “divine present” after securing 13th place on the grid.

    The Spaniard had gone into the session with very low expectations after being 17th quickest in final practice, but again managed to extract the maximum from his McLaren-Honda package to qualify on the sixth row.

    Alonso said that, like in the season-opening race in Melbourne, he had put on one of his strongest performances.

    “Like in Australia, it was one of the best laps I’ve done in my life,” said Alonso after qualifying. “In Australia and here. I feel good with the car, I feel capable of pushing to the limit.

    “The predictions were more pessimistic, especially after we couldn’t run yesterday.

    “This morning we tried a few new pieces and everything worked as expected, but we were 17th and 19th with all the power available, and we faced qualifying thinking of fighting Sauber for the final places.

    “In the end, 13th is the divine present.”

    The McLaren driver, who was around two tenths of a second off the top 10 cut-off time, had a scare in Q2 when his Honda engine was not starting.

    “I don’t think they know why it happened. I hope we can find out ahead of tomorrow,” he said.

    Alonso conceded that the long straights of the Shanghai circuit will mean he loses places on the opening laps given his car’s lack of top speed.

    But with rain expected to hit the circuit tomorrow, the Spanish driver is hopeful he can still salvage a decent result, even if it means taking more risks in the wet.

    “In the dry, as soon as we reach the back straight, if we are starting 13th, we’ll end up 15th or 16th. In the wet we’d still be 15th or 16th at the end of the straight, but we’ll try to take some more risks in the corners.

    “It’s more risky, but we have nothing to lose.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  3. Sebastian Vettel missed out on pole position when he “chickened” on the final corner in Q3. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian admitted he “chickened” by braking early for the final corner on his Chinese Grand Prix qualifying lap, although the loss didn’t cost him pole position.

    Vettel qualified second, 0.186s behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, and just 0.001s of a second ahead of Valtteri Bottas.

    The 29-year-old was surprised to be so far off Hamilton, but was happy with his performance during qualifying.

    “I enjoyed it a lot, if we could have been a bit quicker at the end I would have enjoyed it more,” said Vettel. “The last corner, maybe I lost a little bit and chickened onto the brakes too soon.

    “Obviously it was very close with Valtteri, so a good job we just got enough margin to make it to the front row.”

    Vettel believes the performance in China confirms Ferrari is a little slower than Mercedes in qualifying trim.

    But he was 0.082s closer to Hamilton than he was in Australia, and over a longer laptime, and is confident the Ferrari will be stronger in the race.

    It’s unclear where Mercedes stands on race pace given there was no meaningful running during Friday practice.

    “In qualifying, we lack a bit and in the race it is a close match,” said Vettel. “In Australia, in the race, Lewis was struggling with tyres and us less.

    “No matter what conditions are, the car is working so then we will try to do the fastest race.”

    Hamilton said the pace of Vettel and Ferrari had impressed him during practice and much of qualifying before he took pole position with a lap that started slowly, possibly because the tyres weren’t up to temperature.

    “Ferrari have looked so fast in practice this morning and in qualifying we knew it was going to be close, so I needed a perfect lap,” said Hamilton.

    “The last lap was my best lap, which is always the plan. The lap started off not as good as Q1 but the rest of the lap it got better and better.”

  4. Valtteri Bottas says 0.001s margin to Sebastian Vettel “a real shame”. Motorsport.com has the full details.

    Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas admits it was “a real shame” for him to lose a front row spot in the Chinese Grand Prix to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

    While teammate Lewis Hamilton has taken pole for the first two races of the season, Mercedes newcomer Bottas is still chasing his first front row start with the team – as Vettel narrowly denied him on both occasions.

    The Finn was 0.025s off Vettel in Q3 in Australia, and was denied by a last-gasp effort by the Ferrari man in China as well, coming up 0.001s short.

    “Around one lap here, one-thousandth [of a second] is not so much,” Bottas said. “It is a real shame he [Vettel] managed to between us.

    “So, yeah, that’s a shame – but the race is tomorrow, we are starting as a team first and third and it is a good place to start, weather can be anything, really, tomorrow.

    “Lewis was strong today and Ferrari was strong, we expected a close fight today on track and I think it will be the same case tomorrow.”

    While he posted the same qualifying result as in Melbourne, Bottas said his second race weekend with Mercedes has so far been “a different feeling” compared to his debut.

    “Definitely approaching this weekend compared to Melbourne, it was a different feeling,” he said.

    “That one full race weekend, doing qualifying and race with a podium finish was a nice start. So I’m definitely more comfortable [now].

    “There is a big learning curve for me with everything and I feel better and better every single day and every single lap with the car.”

  5. Haas’s Romain Grosjean and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer have both been given five-place grid drops for Sunday’s 2017 Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix, after ignoring yellow flags during qualifying.

    It means they will now start 19th and 20th, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Force India’s Esteban Ocon each moving up a place to 17th and 18th respectively in the Shanghai starting order.

    The infringements came following a crash for Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi at the end of Q1, with stewards deciding that both Grosjean and Palmer had “attempted to set a meaningful lap time” after passing the resulting double waved yellow flags.

    Both men have also had three penalty points added to their license.

    Source: Formula1.com

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