Vettel on pole again but Webber slumps to 18th

2011 Chinese GP qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Shanghai, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Shanghai, 2011

Sebastian Vettel set pole position for the fourth race in a row and continued his unbeaten run in 2011.

But team mate Mark Webber will start from the ninth row of the grid after being knocked out in the first part of qualifying.

The McLarens will start second and third, with Jenson Button ahead of Lewis Hamilton.


The first part of qualifying produced a shock – Mark Webber was eliminated at the first stage.

The Red Bull driver was already running without KERS following a problem with the system in practice.

Despite not setting a particularly fast time with his first effort, Webber returned to the track on another set of hard tyres, not wanting to use a set of softs which he would need for the race.

But he could only manage 16th fastest. Improvements from Michael Schumacher and, finally, Pastor Maldonado’s Williams, condemned him to starting the race 18th.

He was joined by the six ‘usual suspects’ – the two Lotuses, HRTs and Virgins.

Driver eliminated in Q1

18 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’36.468
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’37.894
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’38.318
21 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’39.119
22 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’39.708
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’40.212
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’40.445


The McLaren duo headed the times at first, with Hamilton two-tenths of a second faster than Button, and Vettel a tenth further behind.

Vitaly Petrov set a time good enough for fourth but his Renault came to a stop shortly afterwards. That brought the red flags out with two minutes left to go.

Among the drivers inconvenienced by that was his team mate, who had just left the pits to do his first and only lap when Petrov stopped.

The session restarted with a string of cars queued up at the exit of the pit lane, led by Sergio Perez. But Felipe Massa made his way past the Sauber driver to make sure he had the advantage of a clear track.

While Massa made it through Perez driver failed to make the cut for the top ten, as team mate Kamui Kobayashi.

Michael Schumacher was also eliminated, as were both Williamses and Adrian Sutil’s Force India.

Heidfeld was also unable to get a clear lap in following the delay, leaving him 16th.

Driver eliminated in Q2

11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’35.874
12 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’36.053
13 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’36.236
14 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’36.457
15 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’36.465
16 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1’36.611
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’36.956


Button and Vettel were the only drivers to go out at the start of the final ten minutes, the rest not wanting to use up soft tyres, including Hamilton, who hadn’t used any more than his two rivals.

Vettel set a stunning pace with his first lap, a 1’33.706, seven-tenths of a second faster than Button could manage.

It was more than Hamilton could do either, who made just a single run. He was fractionally faster than Button in the last two sectors, but a tenth slower in the first, and took third behind his team mate.

Nico Rosberg beat the Ferraris to fourth place, with Alonso just three-hundredths of a second faster than Massa.

Jaime Alguersuari took seventh ahead of Paul di Resta, followed by Sebastien Buemi, and Vitaly Petrov who was unable to set a time.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’33.706
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’34.421
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’34.463
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’34.670
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’35.119
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’35.145
7 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’36.158
8 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’36.190
9 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’36.203
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault No time

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

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214 comments on Vettel on pole again but Webber slumps to 18th

  1. Darren said on 16th April 2011, 9:02

    Would be interesting to know the last time Webber has gone out in round 1, I even remember in bad cars Webber getting through to the last 10…

  2. mild7nick said on 16th April 2011, 9:03

    Le Mans is endurance racing, Sebring is endurance racing. Im all for a bit of “looking after the tyres” but not at the cost of the actual racing

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 16th April 2011, 9:28

      Did you watch last weekend?

      • Kev said on 16th April 2011, 9:42

        I think anyone complaining about the races this year should really stop watching them. F1 is not for them. It is time they understood that preserving tires to help their strategy is also one of the skills of the drivers.

        No offence meant!

        • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 16th April 2011, 10:38

          Agree Kev, if you want short races then people are better off watching BTCC or some sprint races series. If people think its an “endurance” now, imagine 50 years ago when it would go on for a good hour more then today. Imagine 100 laps now of Monaco, for example Monaco 1961 & 2010 (monaco because its only slightly changed of all the circuits from then to now)

          2010 – 78 laps, 260.52 km (162.24 mi)
          1961 – 100 laps, 314.5 km (195.4 mi)

          Moss took 2hr:45to finish the race, Webber took 1hr:50.

          The point is, that races are supposed to be long as F1/GP racing isnt a sprint series, never has been & never will be. If anything, it gets quicker & short (more or less, restrictions on the regulations play their part) by the year for all races, F1 has much shorter and quicker races then its ever had.

          • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 17th April 2011, 6:44

            I certainly wouldn’t complain if the races were closer to 3 hours again! And as far as tire management goes, it’s just one of many skills that the drivers need, and it’s fascinating to see who can handle it and who can’t. The best drivers adapt and thrive with whatever technology comes their way.

    • F1 has always been a bit about conserving the car and its tyres. And we got plenty of good racing in Malaysia.

  3. raveendhana said on 16th April 2011, 9:04

    paul di resta has done a great job, beats sutil again and bad to see williams going down.

  4. sumedh said on 16th April 2011, 9:14

    The more we go deeper into the 2011 season, the more I am going to appreciate Vettel.

    This season is showing us how having the best car alone is not sufficient to do well. Webber has had the short end of the stick more often than not, but he has compounded his problems by making wrong decisions.
    Inability to get a 3-stopper work at Sepang, over-confidence of using a harder tyre while he was about to be eliminated are mistakes that are solely down to Webber.

    This shows that Vettel is being able to do so many things right at the perfect time which is why he is winning comfortably. In Vettel I see a driver who is putting his equipment to perfect use, in Webber I see a driver who is making things difficult for himself.

    • Adrian Morse said on 16th April 2011, 9:23

      I partially agree with you, sumedh. I think it was definitely a risky call to do a second run on hards by Webber, but if he had had KERS, he would have made it.

      Without taking away anything from Vettel’s performances, and certainly not implying favouritism, I find it somewhat painful that the mighty Red Bull is unable to provide Webber with a properly functioning KERS for the second weekend in succession (ok, it worked in Malaysia’s quali but let him down in the race), while Vettel’s is working well enough.

    • rfs said on 16th April 2011, 9:34

      I think the most remarkable thing about Vettel is his relentless consistency. Since he T-boned Button at Spa last year he hasn’t made a single mistake.

      • Well he did fluff his Singapore qualifying and handed pole to Alonso. I agree though that Vettel seems to be getting everything right while Webber is the one getting into a bit of a mess and this year it seems that he’s getting all of the car troubles so far. So I agree with Sumedh but at the same time Webber’s a capable racer and qualifying seems a little less important so I wouldn’t be surprised if he recovered quite well tomorrow.

  5. Kev said on 16th April 2011, 9:17

    I am wondering about Alonso and why he was not able to improve his lap time significantly from Q2. I doubt he was taking the lap conservatively since there was no way he could have challenged for the top4 and the Renaults were nowhere near him. Rosberg spoiled the party with the 4th place, but again Alonso gets to start from 5th and clear side of the track.

  6. Andy C said on 16th April 2011, 10:04

    Another good performance by redbull to get pole for Seb. I am starting to wonder just what on earth is going on with Webbers car though.

    He clearly is not a great deal slower than vettel, but has had a load of car issues and been generally off the pace. I cant believe that is suddenly webber whos fallen off a cliff of pace.

    Good performance also from JB today, and Paul Di Resta. The force india has the uggliest nose seen in F1 since Alain Prosts doesnt it…

    It just doesnt seem like Lewis, talking about tyres and so on. He doesnt look very happy at McLaren to me at the moment. Lost of words on both sides in the press.

    I do wonder whether this will be the beginning of the end between Lewis and McLaren. Just a personal opinion from someone who is a McLaren fan. Hes a great racer no doubt, but there seems to be a lot of edge between them. Anyone else feel the same?

    • Kodongo (@kodongo) said on 16th April 2011, 11:38

      In my opinion, he is being super conservative with the tyres so he can maximise his Sundays.

      Lewis always bounces back from a bad weekend. Remember Malaysia was the first time Lewis made it to the finish line of a grand prix outside of the top six since Germany 2009

    • wigster (@wigster) said on 16th April 2011, 13:30

      I don’t think so. I think after Malaysia hes prehaps just very aware of how having severa goods sets of tyres is important for the race.

      As for him leaving Mclaren I dont think he will as things stand at the moment. In being non commital hes just being sensible really, saying the same as every other driver would. eg. I’m happy here but if my team go backwards, someone offers me more money, or my team make me feel unwelcome, then i’m off. He’s just keeping his options open and doesn’t want mclaren to take him for granted.

  7. Oliver said on 16th April 2011, 10:21

    I wonder why people are blaming Webber for Redbull not giving him a good car all weekend and also since the first race.
    Webber’s woes will magically end after race 5 or 6. But he will continue to get the odd technical issue just to ruffle him before qualifying but not enough to drop him lower than 6th on the grid.
    So at the end of the year, if Redbull want to also win the constructors championship, they have enough in hand. However, if they want to get rid of Webber, they will just point at the final championship points tally, and tell him ,.. You are not performing mate.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 16th April 2011, 10:39

      Because Webber’s car is of cause so much worse then Vettel’s car was last year relatively? Oh wait no. Vettel had all the technical issues last season. Now it is Webber’s turn.
      And seriously why would Red Bull give Webber a worse car on purpose? They still need to win the constructors championship don’t they? They didn’t do that last year (giving him a worse car of cause), and Vettel still beat him, they wouldn’t need too worry about that this year.
      What didn’t work was the KERS, but with a car that can set pole by 0.7 seconds why wasn’t Webber second? Even with the lack of KERS that is what he should have delivered.
      Webber only has contracts year by year, so they wouldn’t need Webber to under perform to kick him out by the end of the year. They could have done that last year. If they don’t want Webber he wouldn’t be driving the car. It is as simple as that. Contract or not, as soon as the big money is on the table they can easily be torn apart.

      • Oliver said on 16th April 2011, 15:15

        When you are on a queue you get served after the man in front. And his problem wasn’t just KERS but also electrical. You may also add that he had not done any qualifying simulation. So his car wan’t optimized. Coupled with the fact the team ran out of time. I am not a Webber fan but in his situation it can’t be easy. Redbull’s priority is car one before any spares.

        • xtophe (@xtophe) said on 16th April 2011, 16:09

          I believe Horner said that both driver’s mechanical crews worked on Webber’s car to get it right for Q after P3.

          • Pinball said on 16th April 2011, 21:54

            Xtophe is right.

            In another article here on F1Fanatic, Horner is quoted as saying “It’s been a rotten day for Mark today. He had an electrical issue this morning and a massive effort by the entire crew, including the mechanics on Sebastian’s car, to get the car ready for quali”.

            And, in the post-qualifying email that Webber’s press people sent out Horner was quoted as saying “After a Herculean effort from all the team to get Mark’s car repaired and out for Q1, it was disappointing for both Mark and the team that he missed the cut. We elected to run the hard tyre for his second run thinking it would be enough, but unfortunately they weren’t up to the temperature to do it. Obviously with 20 / 20 hindsight, you would run the option tyre”.

            I think those two quote pretty well some up the situation. In my mind there is no conspiracy theory, just a lot of bad luck.

        • Mads (@mads) said on 16th April 2011, 16:10

          The cars are set up quite similar, and if Vettel had a good setup for qualy this morning Webber would be running the same setup more or less. His situation might not have been easy, but he was in a car that was easily half a second clear of the rest. To only be quicker then the 3 back marker teams is remarkably bad.

          • Oliver said on 16th April 2011, 17:14

            Perhaps, both cars even run the same paint scheme so we can say they are virtually identical. Fact how do you know if Vettel is running an update or not that can require subtle differences in car setup. Matter of fact most drivers who used the hards, set their faster time on the second lap. Webber didn’t have sufficient laps to get the optimum performance out of hkis tyres. How do you know for sure if Webber has an exactl replica of the bendy wing.

          • Mads (@mads) said on 16th April 2011, 18:02

            I don’t know that, but why wouldn’t they give Webber equal equipment? They would never want him to be that far off Vettels pace. If they would want to sabotage him they should just tell him that his career in F1 is over if he don’t stay second every time Vettel is leading.
            There would be no point in running the team with Vettel in a secure no. 1 postition and Webber no. 2 if Webber can’t get up there and help him. Then they could just as well save the money and effort and only run one car. If they wanted to sabotage Webbers championship in favor of Vettel, they would still want him in front of the two McLarens.
            And do you remember how much of an uproar that started when they took Webbers front wing in Silverstone last year? If there were clear favoritism on the mechanical parts Webber would have told us by now. He still is Mark Webber.

    • TheVillainF1 (@thevillainf1) said on 16th April 2011, 10:45

      Webber’s on one year contracts anyway, they can bin him anytime they want, no need to sabotage him and get an excuse to fire him like you suggest, that would be ludicrous and dumb of them. He’s just been horribly unlucky and is just not on top of his game either.

  8. Oliver said on 16th April 2011, 10:24

    Webber may just as well bring his family car and use it during the race. Surely it will be more reliable and should have received quality care from his mechanics back home.

  9. Rocky said on 16th April 2011, 10:38

    I don t question vettel s overtaking ability. See brittish gp 2010. It’s time we recognize the unbelievable talent of this guy!

  10. TheVillainF1 (@thevillainf1) said on 16th April 2011, 10:48

    What’s most interesting is now Vettel won’t have the buffer of a slower Renault jumping the Mclaren’s at the start, or Webber splitting the Mclaren duo up on the grid. No more excuses for the Mclaren boys, if they want to go toe to toe on race pace vs Vettel, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

  11. alonsodz said on 16th April 2011, 11:01

    chasing Vettel ;)

  12. wigster (@wigster) said on 16th April 2011, 11:08

    He didnt get held up by the weighbridge, he got weighed when he got back to the pits after q1, then he went down there in person to check if he needed to be weighed seperately to his car, as he doesnt often finish qualy in q1. At least thats what the bbc said.

    I think the team should have sent him out on softs for his last run. They should have seen how much slower he was then Vettel, and noticed that everyone but Vettel, and the mclarens had to use softs in q1, which would have meant he wouldnt have lost anything to anyone else in terms of strategy.

  13. mild7nick said on 16th April 2011, 11:13

    Vettel has so much in reserve that I genuinely dont think the Mclarens will worry him tomorrow. He wont streak away because of the tyres but whenever Mclaren look fast Seb always has another half a second in his pocket.

    As for whether F1 is endurance racing, it clearly isnt. 6 hours onwards is what you call Endurance racing as found in the Le Mans Endurance Series funnily enough.

    Mark Hughes said on autosport yesterday that Hamilton is struggling to reign in his talent for the sake of tyre management. This is sad to hear as F1 should be about the best and fastest drivers driving to their full potential.

    Who here honestly finds tyre management exciting compared to two drivers duelling it out at the limit in a final stint with the tyres having no effect on their performance!?

    Who on here would rather watch a race like last weekend or a race like suzuka 05 or spa 00?

    F1 has become tyre obssessed, I dont watch F1 for the tyres, I watch it for the cars, the drivers, the skill and most importantly the racing!

    Some on here seem to be brainwashed by pirelli!

    • Ferddy07 said on 16th April 2011, 11:27


    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 16th April 2011, 11:33

      The 2005 season which was more about tyre management than any other in recent history?

      Good races are good races, what Pirelli are trying to do is spice the processions up by introducing a bit of variety. At the very least it breaks the monotony I witnessed for 90% of the first ten years of watching F1.

      • mild7nick said on 16th April 2011, 12:05

        There was very little tyre management in 2005, bridgestone and Michelin just built them to last.

        Im all for some variety but all I see at the moment are drivers all conserving tyres instead of pushing and racing each other

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th April 2011, 12:11

          all I see at the moment are drivers all conserving tyres instead of pushing and racing each other

          You’re just seeing what you want to see. There was a lot of racing and passing in Malaysia.

          • mild7nick said on 16th April 2011, 13:22

            true but nearly all of it was kers/drs/tyre induced, there was very little wheel to wheel racing between cars of the same speed

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th April 2011, 13:51

            By definition, there never will be. If two cars are going at the same speed one isn’t going to overtake the other.

            I’m not sold on the way DRS is used in races but I don’t think the complaints about KERS and the tyres are merited. Everyone has the same options available to them as far as that’s concerned.

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 16th April 2011, 16:36

          Wrong again. There was tyre war and both manufacturers tried to get the maximum performance out of their tyres. That will inevitably come at the cost of preservation and it did. They lasted because the drivers had to make them last.

        • DaveW said on 16th April 2011, 20:00

          Not going to dispute any of these points. But it’s worth considering, additonally, that we got rid of race-fuel qualifying precisely because we wanted Saturday to be about a duel of raw pace, rather than just a strategic prequel to Sunday. Now it’s worse than that, because all the fuel was the same. Do we need to start doing a “tire correction” based on how many laps a driver did on saturday?

  14. nemo87 (@nemo87) said on 16th April 2011, 11:27

    I think McLaren have gone for tactics today :\

    They knew they couldn’t beat Vettel in Quali so have kept a new set of fresh softs to maybe do one less pit stop than Red Bull..?

    Thats what im thinking/hoping anyway :)

  15. wigster (@wigster) said on 16th April 2011, 11:39

    Qualifying laps and race laps should have different records.

    In qualy, its just 1 lap, you may have low fuel, different tyres and set up (in the past), its a lot easier to concentrate and be on the limit, and there’s less risk involved in a single lap sprint.

    Where as during the race you have to look after tyres, manage fuel, have a different setup (in the past), its more difficult to concentrate and be on the edge and theres the risk of going off track and ruining your race.

    Therefore fast qualy laps and race laps are set in entirely different circumstances.

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