Lewis Hamilton on pole in China (2008 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying)

A wink and a smile: scored his seventh pole position of 2008

A wink and a smile: Lewis Hamilton scored his seventh pole position of 2008

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix after leading every practice and qualifying session in Shanghai bar one.

But with Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and the ‘third Ferrari’ of Fernando Alonso right behind him he will be under huge pressure at the start.

Meanwhile Robert Kubica failed to qualifying inside the top ten, a major blow to his already slim championship hopes.

Part one

Hamilton carried his form from practice into qualifying and with a single lap set a time quicker than anyone else by half a second up to that point. Team mate Heikki Kovalainen eventually improved to second, one tenth slower than Hamilton, but Massa remained four tenths adrift and.

Meanwhile the other title rival – Kubica – was visibly struggling, and only made it into Q2 by 0.228s have languished in the bottom five for much of the session.

Kubica’s late improvement knocked David Coulthard into the drop zone, but Rubens Barrichello got his Honda in Q2 by less than a tenth of a second. But Coulthard fumed at Nick Heidfeld afterwards, claiming the BMW driver had delayed him.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. David Coulthard 1’36.731
17. Kazuki Nakajima 1’36.863
18. Jenson Button 1’37.053
19. Adrian Sutil 1’37.730
20. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’37.739

Part two

While the Ferraris put on the medium compound option tyres and went fastest – Massa with a 1’35.135 – Hamilton stayed on the harder tyres and could only manage fifth, 0.3s slower. He did a second run, switching to the medium tyres. That final lap saw him improve to a 1’34.947, putting him top of the times.

But Kubica was in trouble once again and this time there was no late reprieve – he could only manage 12th while Heidfeld made it into the final ten.

Barrichello managed 14th ahead of Rosberg, and both the Toyotas were also eliminated.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’35.722
12. Robnert Kubica 1’35.814
13. Timo Glock 1’35.937
14. Rubens Barrichello 1’36.079
15. Nico Rosberg 1’36.210

Part three

Hamilton’s first lap in Q3 was spoiled by a mistake in the middle sector. It left him fifth, 0.01s slower than Massa, but 0.6s slower than his team mate, who was quickest.

But he hit back on his second lap, beating Raikkonen by 0.3s to claim the 13th pole position of his career.

Raikkonen carried huge speed through the final corner to claim second and out-qualify Massa for the second race in a row. Kovalainen had a poor final lap, falling from first to fifth behind Alonso. Mark Webber took sixth, but will have a ten-place penalty having changed his engine.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Lewis Hamilton 1’36.303
2. Kimi Raikkonen 1’36.645
3. Felipe Massa 1’36.889
4. Fernando Alonso 1’36.927
5. Heikki Kovalainen 1’36.930
6. Mark Webber 1’37.083
7. Nick Heidfeld 1’37.201
8. Sebastian Vettel 1’37.685
9. Jarno Trulli 1’37.934
10. Sebastien Bourdais 1’38.885

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41 comments on Lewis Hamilton on pole in China (2008 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying)

  1. Magnus said on 18th October 2008, 11:35

    I’m not sure Hamilton can afford to take it easy in the start tomorrow. If Raikonnen gets ahead at the start (and wants to be a team player) he then has a lot of possibilities to be a bit over-zealous defending his position in the first few turns against him, thus letting Massa sneak by on the inside and sprint off in the lead. In that scenario, depending on Hamilton’s pace after the start he could see his lead cut down to 3 or even 1 point going into Brazil.

  2. Kimi’s qualifying quote :
    Certainly, even putting aside what the choices have been in terms of fuel loads, today it would have been difficult to beat the McLaren

    I guess this means, he is fairly heavy.

    IDR; I don’t know how you reach your estimated first stint lengths (I would like to know, though). But I will be very surprised if you are correct tomorrow

  3. Two points:

    1. There’s a Constructor’s Championship to win here also. I’m sure the teams are more interested in that.

    2. RAAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNN!!!!! Bring on the Toro Rosso’s!

  4. Sumedh,

    I already expained some races ago in an specific thread of Keith talking about fuel load strategies.

    I must say that what the maths says, is not very accurate in most of the occasions but is quite accurate in showing who driver is lighter than other, unless the figures were so close.

    So, I still think Ferrari is lighter than McLaren. And for the Kimi’s quote you have posted one can read it as Raikkonen is telling McLaren has been faster despite we were lighter than tem, or in the other way arround, who knows.

    In any case, I cannot find any reason for putting Kimi with a car heavier than McLarens when all sessions McLaren has been quite a lot fast.

    Anyhow, maybe you are wright and the maths are wrong, tomorrow we all will know it!!!

  5. Anoop said on 18th October 2008, 12:48

    I genuinely feel that Lewis is not going pull it off in Shanghai and the new champion will be crowned only in Brazil. With ’3′ Ferraris in the front two rows, it is an uphill task for Hamilton to win. But with both Massa and Hamilton showing difficult temperaments, it will be a test of nerves and the one who can stay calm, will take home the win and possibly, the title too !! Guess the weather might play its part too tomorrow ;) !!

  6. Indifferent said on 18th October 2008, 12:55

    I for one would be happy to see Kubica win. Those 2 jokers, Massa and Hamilton, are equipped with cars that easily outclass Kubica’s in terms or raw speed and somehow they contrive to let in Kubica with a sniff.
    If Kubica does win the title, it is more about how the 2 jokers have let it slip by them than about how the BMW was the class of the field. I wont surprised if it happens though.

    And yes, Raikkonen just couldnt be arsed this year to retain his crown this year for some reason. The less said about Kovalenien’s abilities, the better.

  7. John Beamer said on 18th October 2008, 14:24

    Given Lewis had a “perfect lap” and he has been faster all weekend I’d be surprised if he was super light. Personally I’d expect Kimi to stop a couple of laps before Lewis and Felipe (probably in about the same lap). IDR’s numbers don’t look crazy.

    On another point Hamilton looks as though he wants to get the job done tomorrow. Little celebration today – half job done – he’s fired up.

    I also reckon that Japan was the wake up call. Last year my guess is he put it down to ill luck (e.g. the Shanghai pit error was not his fault and nor was the technical glitch in Interlagos – yes, I know he had the fight with Fred in the opening corners. But Japan was probably the first time when he has had a chance to sit back and say yes, i did screw up badly.

    If he can’t hack the pressure how can he bang in 2 great qualy laps in Japan and China?

  8. Rahzam said on 18th October 2008, 14:25

    It will be thrilling to see first corner battle between top four. As said by ‘Apostolos’. Three angry drivers behind Hamilton. I can’t wait to see this race.

  9. Watch KOV. He effed up his q3 lap but he was just as fast as HAM throughout qualifying. If he can get by Alonso early he will give Massa fits. If he ran his last lap as he did in q2 he could have been on pole. Nothing works out for this guy this year.

  10. Samuel… I hope you were being sarcastic because I think Keith was… 3 Ferraris is pretty funny!!

  11. MacademiaNut said on 18th October 2008, 16:05

    @ Samuel post #13

    Samuel, given what ALO said two days ago, the comment by Keith is not childish at all. ALO went on to say that he will help MAS win the title.

    I would really like to see him do that on track particularly when he is ahead of MAS and just let MAS through to take his position — we will see Flavio’s reaction to that!

  12. Rahzam said on 18th October 2008, 16:15

    MacademiaNut,

    I don’t think Alonso will do that. He don’t want to see Hamilton as champion but he will not help Massa in any way. He will play his own game.

  13. Does anyone think Hamilton may be 3 Stopping hence he super light?
    Driver skill/weather/tyre compounds can’t account for the sudden gap? This could explain how he’s been faster all through practice
    If Hamilton 3 stops it means;
    1. he’s fast off line,
    2. stays out trouble at start
    3. Increases wet weather options
    4. Minimises tyre graining

    I also think it’s McLaren who have the tyre problems here rather than Ferrari. The graining and tyre lock ups will surely mean that McLaren can’t run as consistlently fast as Ferraris?
    Furthermore is Kova very heavy? This keeps him away from 1st corner problem zone yet increases options to use him as a slow truck later in race?
    Thoughts anyone?

  14. Agree with Rahzam, Alonso put more pressure to Hamilton in order to make another mistake and with little luck finish on the podium, 1st place maybe :p

  15. I just had a horrible thought, “I can’t wait to see what the fuel corrected times are”

    shoot me.

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