Super-cool Vettel takes second pole in China (Chinese Grand Prix qualifying)

Sebastian Vettel put Red Bull on pole position for the first time

Sebastian Vettel put Red Bull on pole position for the first time

Sebastian Vettel took the second pole position of his career – and Red Bull’s first – using just a single lap in Q2 and Q3 to deliver a perfect performance.

Fernando Alonso surprised by grabbing second ahead of Mark Webber as Renault-engined cars locked out the top three – bumping back the Brawn duo of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.


None of the drivers were able to get through the first part of qualifying without having to resort to the super-soft tyre.

After their Malaysian Grand Prix disaster Ferrari took care to ensure Felipe Massa got a second lap in and wasn’t eliminated before Q2.

This time it was Robert Kubica’s turn to suffer an early exclusion – the BMW driver slumped to 18th after making a mistake at turn 12 on his quick lap.

Lewis Hamilton, running a new front wing and diffuser on the MP4/24, showed much improved pace. But team make Heikki Kovalainen, who’d chosen not to run the new wing, only narrowly made it into Q2.

Aside from Kubica the drivers eliminated in Q1 were the usual suspects – with Sebastien Buemi once again getting the better of Sebastien Bourdais.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16. Sebastien Bourdais 1’36.906
17. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’36.908
18. Robert Kubica 1’36.966
19. Adrian Sutil 1’37.669
20. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’37.672


Mark Webber set the early pace in Q2 while team mate Sebastian Vettel, unusually, hung back in the pits until two minutes before the end of the session.

But when he did set his single lap it was a flyer – 1;35.130, a few hundredths quicker than Webber’s.

They bumped the Brawns back to second – but Jenson Button’s failure to improve on his time from Q1 suggested he had time in hand.

Sebastien Buemi snatched the crucial tenth place by one hundredth of a second from Nick Heidfeld, with Kovalainen and Massa close behind. But video replays suggested he might have been delayed by one of the Red Bulls – in which case the stewards may get involved.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Nick Heidfeld 1’35.975
12. Heikki Kovalainen 1’36.032
13. Felipe Massa 1’36.033
14. Timo Glock 1’36.066
15. Kazuki Nakajima 1’36.193


Brawn and Red Bull were the only team to get both their drivers into Q3. They were joined by Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Jarno Trulli, Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton and Buemi.

Rubens Barrichello was fastest from Webber in the opening exchange of laps by 0.04s, with Button a further 0.2s behind. Vettel again hung back in the pits, biding his time and saving tyres.

Webber’s first effort took provisional pole position – Vettel beat him by 0.3s to give Red Bull their first pole position.

But their hopes of a front row lockout were dashed when Alonso pulled a surprise lap out of the bag to grab second – suggesting the Renault has rather more performance in KERS-free form. He was also aided by a revised diffuser added to the car only this morning.

This left Barrichello fourth and Button, pole sitter for the first two races, bumped back to row three. But how much fuel do they have on board? We’ll find out in a few hours.

Update: Fuel weights published – Alonso and the Red Bull drivers very light on fuel: Chinese GP fuel weights and strategies

Top ten drivers in Q3

1. Sebastian Vettel 1’36.184
2. Fernando Alonso 1’36.381
3. Mark Webber 1’36.456
4. Rubens Barrichello 1’36.493
5. Jenson Button 1’36.532
6. Jarno Trulli 1’36.835
7. Nico Rosberg 1’37.397
8. Kimi Raikkonen 1’38.089
9. Lewis Hamilton 1’38.595
10. Sebastien Buemi 1’39.321

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73 comments on Super-cool Vettel takes second pole in China (Chinese Grand Prix qualifying)

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  1. ILoveVettel said on 18th April 2009, 8:18

    I am so so happy…….Two favourite drivers of mine are on front row..

  2. Was Briatore fooling the world with his recent outbursts while secretly developing the diffuser!!

  3. goofy said on 18th April 2009, 8:22

    just great… SuperSeb is best!!
    Lets see what tyre-game will bring us.

  4. Dorian said on 18th April 2009, 8:22

    @ILoveVettel: I second that!!!

  5. StrFerrari4Ever said on 18th April 2009, 8:22

    Get In There :D that was so emotional for me great to see Vettel on pole I predicted he’d get pole but i didn’t know Red Bull had that much pace its so great and Webber in 3rd place Buemi top 10 im happy aswell its just a matter of races before they get onto the pace of Red Bull tommorow is going to be fantastic regardless of the fuel loads :D

    • Macca said on 18th April 2009, 8:28

      Don’t be to happy yet. Webber may have a penalty for holding up Hikki. Fingers crossed that nothing comes of it.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th April 2009, 8:30

      Was it definitely Webber and not Vettel?

    • Macca said on 18th April 2009, 13:18

      Yes, because the red bull car then went into the pits, which means it had to be Webber becasue Vettel only did one flying lap and thats was late in the session.

    • Macca said on 18th April 2009, 13:24

      After reading everyones comments, I apologise. It appears that I was wrong about the slow red bull being Webber.

      I have to say though, as an Australian, knowing that it wasn’t Webber will help me get a much better nights sleep tonight.


  6. Renault back on top. I look forward for the race tomorrow.

  7. StrFerrari4Ever said on 18th April 2009, 8:31

    oh yeah true there was that but surely the stewards will take into account that Webber was trying to get some space from that Williams ahead of him

  8. iceshiel said on 18th April 2009, 8:35

    pole position with one lap? awesome vettel!

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th April 2009, 8:37

    I’ve had another look and it does look like it was Vettel that held up Kovalainen, and Kovalainen was on a timed lap, so I think it’s entirely possible the stewards might get involved.

    I’m not sure if they need an appeal from one of the teams to investigate. McLaren may not bother because Vettel losing five places (the standard penalty) wouldn’t help either of their drivers. But Renault could appeal I guess.

  10. Spiffy said on 18th April 2009, 8:39

    Whoever has the yellow onboard camera on their Red Bull was the one who had a hand in holding up Heikki. The Williams in front could be in for a punishment, too.

  11. Internet said on 18th April 2009, 8:39

    Vettel deserves the penalty. He was on his in lap so he can’t use the “I was blocked by the guy in front of me” excuse because he could have given way at any point. Kova was all over the track looking for a place to cleanly pass.

  12. TommyB said on 18th April 2009, 8:43

    Great qualy. shame it’ll be rigged again. I reckon Vettel will be given a penalty, the steward love giving them

    • John H said on 18th April 2009, 8:48

      What are you talking about? On an in lap, obstructing a flyer is a clear 5 place penalty – all the drivers know this.

      Alonso on pole for sure. He must be light due to the fact they want to get the super softs out of the way for as little as 10 laps or so at the start.

  13. KingHamilton said on 18th April 2009, 8:44

    cant wait to see the fuel loads. I bet alonso will be light, but if he isnt that new diffuser is doing the right job!

    I also think one of the red bulls will get a penalty for blocking heikki.

    Great news for red bull otherwise though, they’ve proven they really are the real deal this year

  14. Katy said on 18th April 2009, 8:44

    I’m so happy for Vettel (I think me wearing my Vettel t-shirt is what did it) but I hope he doesn’t get a penalty if it was him holding up Heikki. I think I’ll cry. I’d love it if Red Bull could translate one of their positions to a win!

    Being a Toro Rosso fan too I’m very happy for Buemi, but I was expecting more from Bourdais for this year, but ho hum.

    Looks like the Renault and McLaren changes have had some effect, which is good to see. Be good if Lewis is fuelled heavy : )

    Out of interest did Piquet have the new diffuser too, or was it just Alonso?

    • Macca said on 18th April 2009, 13:26

      Out of interest did Piquet have the new diffuser too, or was it just Alonso?

      No, it was just Alonso.

  15. StrFerrari4Ever said on 18th April 2009, 8:46

    Fingers crossed i hope he wont get a penalty because come on that would just ruin the whole session having someone who did a blinding lap to put it on pole
    Renault quick fix or running incredibly light i don’t know Keith do you still believe Newey should go ahead with his diffuser or just develop other area’s seeing how fast that car is :P

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