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. JMB,

    Its very unlikely; that anyone is on a 3-stopper. Mclaren might not be the best at tyre management, but it can definitely make the 2 hardest compounds work for a third of the race distance

  2. Samuel said on 18th October 2008, 17:38

    @sap, if it’s a joke… well I agree, It’s funny. But I see some people here believing Alonso wants to crash into Hamilton, or let Massa pass that I took it seriously. Lot of people seriously believed that he brake tested Hamilton on purpose because he hates McLaren!!.

    The image of Alonso is so distorted and manipulated in some british media that it’s hard to distinguish if it’s a joke or not.

  3. Oliver said on 18th October 2008, 18:02

    @Samuel,
    Alonso has gone on to clarify what exactly he meant by that statement. If Massa is behind him and is clearly faster, he will not make himself too difficult to pass, but on the other hand, if its Hamilton behind him, then he will race him. Only childish minds will talk about him crashing Hamilton out. But if he can find a way to disturb his rhythm then he would even if the consequence is a crash.

  4. Graham cope said on 18th October 2008, 18:04

    Lewis is not the best driver yet but it is still early days for him . Senna was the best in my eyes and will stay a legend. I think Ferrari ars more dangerous than lewis. How many pit lane blunders have they had, and i am sure we are yet to see one of their pit crew being dragged out the pit lane attatched to the fuel filling hose. Yes the F.I.A are bias towards ferrari. As for the statement Alonso made in helping other drivers win races is outright unfair and he should be penalised . It is the sport of motorracing so let them race. Come on Lewis get the title this year Britain needs an F1 champion. GOOD LUCK

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th October 2008, 19:09

    Samuel – Given that Alonso’s said he hopes he can help Massa win the title, it’s a perfectly fair remark.

    “Hardly compatible with the claimed impartiality of this site.” I make no such claim and anyone who does is deluded. Impartiality is impossible – you can strive for it, but you can never attain it. Everyone carries their own experiences, beliefs and assumptions with them and it inevitably has a bearing on how they see things. I’m satisfied what I write is fair, and I certainly did not suggest Alonso would hit Hamilton deliberately (see the link in the above paragraph).

  6. a bit childish and hardly compatible with the claimed impartiality of this site.

    calling a Renault a Ferrari doesn’t stop impartiality, you pear.

    Childish? somewhat, funny? hell yeah.

  7. good point Keith, the only way to be impartial is to not be interested in this sport, in which case this site wouldn’t exist.

  8. S Hughes said on 18th October 2008, 19:53

    Well said Keith. BTW I wonder how many impartial blog sites there are in Spain or Italy.

  9. AussieLeb said on 19th October 2008, 1:30

    Ok……Now back to the racing!!! That’s you included Keith!

    Lewis might not be as light as some think but I have the feeling he really thrashed his tyres in quali and if previous races this year are anything to go off then look to some serious issues for McLaren, especially if it stays as warm as it has been.

    Also, although there is a chance of rain it’s forecast as showers so the temperature won’t change too much, meaning previous form regarding Ferrari’s in the wet doesn’t apply, as significantly.

    By the way, I would like to see points awarded for the top 8 in quali. Would make for an interesting twist in terms of strategies and the value of getting pole. Perhaps more off the current back markers would make the top ten more frequently?

  10. F1Fan said on 19th October 2008, 2:52

    OK guys, let’s settle the issue of who’s faster this weekend and by how much, relative fuel loads and race pace.

    a) Q-pace: Lewis is clearly faster in Q trim, by 2-3 tenths, over 1 or 2 laps. He’s been consistently quickest of all in his short runs in practice. From my post-Q analysis, I now understand that Ferrari already knew at the end of Q1 that they couldn’t challenge Lewis for pole. This explains why they were not anywhere near the top of the timesheets in P2 or P3. This tells me then that they placed all their preparation focus on race-pace.

    (b) Fuel loads: I estimate that a lap’s worth of fuel on this track introduces about a 2-tenths penalty (1.5-2 tenths). Massa was a little less than 2 tenths behind Lewis in Q2. I think Q2 times are the most accurate representation of car performance, since fuel loads are virtually identical, at least between the top teams. So I say that w/ the same fuel load, the MP4-28 is between 1.5 and 2 tenths better than the F2008. In Q3, Massa was almost 6 tenths behind Lewis. Take away 2 tenths due to the car, and it says that he is probably heavier than Lewis by 2 laps. On the other hand, Kimi, who was slower than Massa all throughout Q1 and Q2, was 3.5 tenths behind Lewis in Q3. Kimi was about 2 tenths slower than Massa in Q2, so if he had the same fuel load as Massa in Q3 he should have been 8 tenths behind Lewis. Being only 3.5 tenths slower, suggests that Kimi is carrying about 4.5 tenths’ worth less fule than Massa, or 3 laps. So Kimi is a lap lighter than Lewis. This makes sense: Ferrari wanted Kimi to simply make sure he started ahead of Kovalainen and Alonso, to ensure that only a Ferrari is between Lewis and Massa. And, he can now potentially challenge for the lead at the first turn (or two).

    (c) Race pace: Assuming my fuel-load analysis is correct, Ferrari’s has got to be thinking along either of these lines: (i) Kimi overtakes Lewis at the start, Massa follows Lewis up close until the 1st stops and overtakes him during the 1st or 2nd stops. If Massa can do that, it is not out of the question that Kimi will be told to let Massa pass him also (if he is still in the lead, late in the race). Regardless, this senario reduces Massa’s deficit to Lewis to 3 points from 5. (ii) If Kimi can’t overtake Lewis at the start, let Massa go by at turn 1 or 2. The rest of it essentially plays out as case (i). There is another, wilder, thought of course, which is that Kimi forces Lewis wide at turn 1 and Massa passes both from the inside. Not likely, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it happens.

    Now, if Ferrari completely nail this, Massa AND Kimi overtake Lewis at the start, Massa wins, Kimi gets 2nd and we go to Interlagos virtually tied at the top. Of course, everything I said in part (c) assumes that Ferrari has superior race-pace than McLaren, and I think they do, especially when they do their stints w/ the option tire (medium). Something tells me the reds will go option for 2 of their 3 stints.

    In any case, this has the potential to be the best race of the season. If Lewis can make a clean start and win the race, he will be a worthy champion, since I don’t think there is any way Massa can come back from a 7-point deficit (best case), if he loses in Shanghai (he is not Kimi).

  11. Journeyer said on 19th October 2008, 6:55

    I don’t think there is any way Massa can come back from a 7-point deficit (best case), if he loses in Shanghai (he is not Kimi).

    But Lewis will still be Lewis, and Brazil 2007 was more about Lewis blowing it (by running wide trying to have a go at Alonso, followed by that electronics issue) than Kimi winning it (Massa DID give way for him).

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