Rosberg claims first pole position with stunning lap

2012 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Shanghai, 2012Nico Rosberg made history by claiming his first pole position in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

He put Mercedes at the front of the grid for the first time since Juan Manuel Fangio led the field at Monza in 1955.

Michael Schumacher will start alongside him – he qualified third but second-placed Lewis Hamilton will take a five-place penalty.

Q1

Mark Webber was the quickest of the runners on the medium tyre in the first part of qualifying, ahead of the McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

But many drivers found significant lap time improvement on the soft tyre – so much so that Button left the pits on a set in case his place in Q2 came under thread.

Sergio Perez ended the session fastest ahead of Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean, all on softs.

As in Malaysia, it was Jean-Eric Vergne who missed the cut for Q2. Both Toro Rosso drivers struggled to improve at the end of the session. “The start of the first lap’s good,” Daniel Ricciardo told his engineer, “but by the end of the first lap the traction is already becoming poor.”

Vergne was joined as usual by the Caterham, Marussia and HRT drivers.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’37.714
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’38.463
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’38.677
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’39.282
22 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’39.717
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’40.411
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’41.000

Q2

Last year in China the shock result of qualifying was Webber’s elimination in Q1. This time it was Vettel’s turn to be knocked out early as he failed to progress beyond Q2.

It began with a strong effort by Fernando Alonso to get the Ferrari into Q3. His 1’35.982 sneaked him ahead of, among others, Vettel.

Most drivers did two runs during the session including both Red Bulls. But while Webber set the fastest time of the session with a 1’35.700, Vettel was 0.331s slower than his team mate.

Incredibly, that slender gap was the different between being fastest and, in Vettel’s case, not making it into the final ten.

He was eliminated along with Felipe Massa, the Williams and Force India drivers, and Daniel Ricciardo.

Romain Grosjean had to abort his first effort in Q2 after a mistake at turn 12. He recovered with a final effort to join his team mate in Q3.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’36.031
12 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’36.225
13 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’36.283
14 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’36.289
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’36.317
16 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’36.745
17 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’36.956

Q3

The Mercedes duo plus Raikkonen and Hamilton were the first drivers on the track – and Rosberg set a stunning pace. A lap of 1’35.121 put him at the top of the times – and after that he got out of the car and didn’t make another attempt.

Back on track Hamilton and Schumacher tried to find the half-second between them and Rosberg but neither of them could get any closer.

Kamui Kobayashi showed Sauber had made progress with their one-lap pace by claiming fourth – which will become third after Hamilton’s penalty is applied.

The McLaren driver will fall to seventh behind Raikkonen, Button and Webber.

Several drivers struggled to improve as the temperature fell during the final session, and most posted slower laps or aborted their final runs.

Perez, Alonso and Grosjean complete the top ten – the latter choosing not to set a time.

Top ten in Q3

1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’35.121
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’35.626
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’35.691
4 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’35.784
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’35.899
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’36.191
7 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’36.290
8 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’36.524
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’36.622
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault

2012 Chinese Grand Prix

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160 comments on Rosberg claims first pole position with stunning lap

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  1. F1_Dave said on 14th April 2012, 8:13

    How long before the Top 4 get DRS-ed?

    If we didn’t have DRS I’d be really excited about the race with the grid we’ve got, However you just know that as soon as DRS gets activated the guys at the front are going to fall backwards.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 8:32

      Red Bulll need it by the looks of it…

    • Mad Eric (@mad-eric) said on 14th April 2012, 8:35

      Makes me wish for full time DRS and I NEVER thought I would ever say that!

    • Cluffy_Wedge said on 14th April 2012, 9:44

      The zone is shorter than last year is it not? Besides, without DRS Merc wouldn’t even be on pole. Probably.

    • vet4 said on 14th April 2012, 9:44

      how come there isn’t much discussion about KOB’s brilliant 3rd place start? i think that news is on par with ROS’s first pole and VET mishaps.

    • Tommo said on 14th April 2012, 11:51

      Not necessarily, the Mercs at least are geared for high top speed. RBR especially usually hits rev limiter, and that will make DRS less effective. Even McLaren might struggle to get past them on the straights in the early stages.

      The fall-apart Pirellis on the other hand..

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 14th April 2012, 17:00

      I wouldn’t be so hasty to worry about DRS. The W03 is easily the fastest car in a straight line with the Sauber not far behind. Red Bull are slow in a straight line and even with DRS I doubt they will be able to punch through both McLaren and Mercedes.

    • rick2k9 (@rick2k9) said on 14th April 2012, 18:43

      I’m excited either way, this is the best start to a season we’ve had in a really long time. There are 5 teams capable of winning races with a pretty high mix of performance from quali to the race which promotes a lot of passing. Just fantastic if you ask me

  2. MylesW (@mpw1985) said on 14th April 2012, 8:13

    Well, didn’t see that one coming

  3. Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 14th April 2012, 8:14

    Damn it i missed Q3. Lights went! :(

  4. Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th April 2012, 8:16

    That moment where he confidently stepped out of the car very early and walked away with a damn big grin on his face will be remembered for a long time. Fantastic lap by Nico. I don’t see him lasting though.

    Kamui third, and we all know how strong Sauber is in the race. We could be in for an amazing upset here.

  5. Hacky (@hacky) said on 14th April 2012, 8:17

    congrats Britneyyyyy

  6. callum (@095cal) said on 14th April 2012, 8:20

    Such an exciting grid for tomorrow. I haven’t looked forward to a race this much in a long time. I can’t see Mercedes tyres holding up much so it will allow the cars behind to stay close. Its just like a reverse grid in a way with Sauber and Lotus up there, can’t wait

    • Bigbadderboom (@bigbadderboom) said on 14th April 2012, 14:27

      @callum I agree, really looking forward to this one now. One to watch is Koby, if he goes 2 stop and everyone else goes 3 he may go one better than Perez did in Malaysia! Not sure if the can keep the tyres working that long though, operating window seems quite narrow in China especially with low temps.

      • callum (@095cal) said on 14th April 2012, 18:46

        Yeah true mate, Its not like the Sauber is in an incorrect position. Its very fast at the moment and has probably the best tyre wear of any other car on the field, its such an open race!

  7. sumedh said on 14th April 2012, 8:24

    Some qualifying that!
    I am going to stick out my neck and say that Kimi is most likely to win the race tomorrow. He is in the best position to overtake the Mercs in the first two laps and let the slow Mercs keep everyone behind them with DDRS while Kimi runs off into the distance.

  8. MercedesBeanz said on 14th April 2012, 8:27

    Also, the gap between lewis and jensen is an major indicator. The pace of the mclaren here is not what it was in the last two races, the true pace being that of jensen, with lewis out-performing the car’s capability, as only he can. Mclaren may not be as fast as it had been?

    • BBT (@bbt) said on 14th April 2012, 8:34

      Although Button under performed today, they also went out too late with him. Button should have been 4th before the temperature dropped.

      • sebsronnie (@sebsronnie) said on 14th April 2012, 8:43

        Guess the focus in the Mclaren is on race pace given their performance in the past two races.

      • matthew said on 14th April 2012, 10:41

        lewis went out behind jenson for his second run,and still managed to be quicker than jenson in the first 2 sectors,but he then pulled out of the lap because he wasnt beating rosbergs great lap time.so if lewis was able to go quicker,jenson should have been able to.

    • Adam said on 14th April 2012, 8:36

      Mclaren was still 2nd, beaten only by a great lap from a car which overheats its tyres finding the sweetspot on a cold track.

      • BBT (@bbt) said on 14th April 2012, 8:41

        @Adam Totally agree, it will all change again when we get to the warmer races.
        Isn’t the race an hour later Merc could find the sweet spot again tomorrow, I expect them to be very fast at the start of the final stint (if they are still in the running) before destroying their tyres

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 14th April 2012, 8:45

      A lot of the gap is due to Button going out when it was already starting to get cold, Hamilton was doing fine and would look superb for the win tomorrow if not for that grid penalty.

    • gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 14th April 2012, 8:49

      He “outperformed” his car… So he made it go quicker than it possibly can… Very interesting. Can you explain me how such a wonder is possible ?

      • bag0 (@bag0) said on 14th April 2012, 9:59

        @gwenouille Hamilton just did this

        Also, noone can outperform the car, Lewis got out the MAXIMUM of the car, not more.

        • ChimpSafari said on 14th April 2012, 14:05

          The term “out performed” the car is used to describe when a driver laps quicker than the engineers believe possible. Hamilton seems to do this fairly often and put the McLaren higher up than their simulators would suggest so there is some merit to what MercedesBeanz said.

          Of course you are correct that you can only technically get the maximum out of the car, but driving faster than the simulation computer car is pretty impressive.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 8:56

      @adam, I don’t agree, the Mercedes is quicker in qualifying…although definately not in the races

  9. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 8:27

    Fantastic lap from Rosberg, but what happened Vettel? I think he should’ve gone for the new spec exhaust.

    • omsammy (@omsammy) said on 14th April 2012, 9:04

      He shouldn’t gave Grosjean a finger during friday practice………

      • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 9:09

        He’s not happy that the car isn’t the quickest

        • James (@goodyear92) said on 14th April 2012, 9:33

          So because he’s not happy his car ain’t on rails this year, that gives him the right to wave his fists at any driver that happens to find themselves ahead of him on track. Maybe it’s his new overtaking tactic and he’s testing it out for the race lol

          • @goodyear92 – It’s frustration, yes he shouldn’t react the way he did but wouldn’t you be frustrated if you’d just won 2 WDC’s and you now realise that your car isn’t the fastest anymore?

          • Jack said on 14th April 2012, 12:18

            Isn´t it Ironic… I guess that is why Fernando did it also for quite some time and nobody has ever gotten over it but we should let it “slip by” just because it´s finger boy??

          • James (@goodyear92) said on 14th April 2012, 13:45

            @vettel1 Getting frustrated is one thing. Many drivers have and have acted out, but I have never seen a driver that expects every driver he comes across to get out of his way and he did it last year to at Korea with Jaime, so it’s got nothing to do with the frustration of not having the best car. He just seems to have this inflated sense of his own importance. Yeah he has just won two WDC’s. He’s not had 3 or 4 years of bad cars so maybe he should just be grateful he’s got a car that can challenge, but isn’t the fastest and stop thinking he’s the most important driver on the track.

          • dpod (@dpod) said on 14th April 2012, 16:20

            Agreed.

  10. Mad Eric (@mad-eric) said on 14th April 2012, 8:30

    I predict Michael jumps Nico at the start forcing Nico to defend against Kamui, Kimi, Jensen and Lewis… unless a major “incident” makes it even more unbelievable.

  11. sid_prasher (@) said on 14th April 2012, 8:31

    Wonder what happened to Seb? Super super lap from Nico & good job from Ferrari.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 8:37

      @sid_prasher – I think it was because he ran the old exhaust; even though he felt the car was more balanced it’s a slower car because of it. He was nowhere near the apex of some of the turns.
      Also they’re never as fast as the other top teams on the straights; they could really use Mercedes double DRS system

      • brny666 said on 14th April 2012, 9:28

        This. Vettel clearly prefers the old exhaust system however it is fundamentally slower than the new one. Evidence of this is that he lapped 1:36 three times probably pushing car to the max but it just wouldn’t go faster.

  12. dpod (@dpod) said on 14th April 2012, 8:33

    A bit gutted for Alonso because I want him to win the WDC but I just absolutely enjoy watching him start from a fpoor position and thrashing the wheels off the little Ferrari.

  13. walster (@walster) said on 14th April 2012, 8:33

    Michael will jump Nico and bye bye. the rest is up for grabs.

  14. DT (@dt) said on 14th April 2012, 8:36

    Fantastic lap by Nico.. his confidence when he stepped out of the car was remarkable. Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day. Clearly there is no dominant car this year which makes the calender quite exciting to look forward to.

    Vettel out in Q2 is a shocker. We won’t be seeing that finger in a while :-). Ferrari is struggling. Forget the performance of Felipe, the car hasn’t got the pace!

    Its not going to be an easy fight for lewis considering the cars in front of him but it will be an exciting fight. I reckon he’ll beat Button this race. Bring on sunday!

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 8:40

      I hope Vettel does a similar thing to Webber last year at China, obviously he has a slight advantage because it’s p11 and not p18…

    • 1 of the 3 said on 14th April 2012, 8:49

      I’d say there is a dominant car this year and it’s McLaren. Hamilton: pole, pole, 2nd(with penalty). That’s fairly dominant. Button really came up small today IMO and isn’t helping McLaren’s cause. I’d actually go as far as to say that McLaren is stronger than last year’s Red Bull – not because the car is better but the circumstances this year should really be favoring Hamilton-Button. This season could very easily have been (and still could be) about Hamilton-Button riding off into the distance with the Mercs holding up the rest of the field. Instead we’ve got a fantastic grid with Alonso as the leader (for now).

      • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 8:59

        The Red Bull was much faster than Mclaren for most of last year, this year’s Mclaren is only a few tenths quicker than Red Bull, and I think it’s actually slower in qualifying than the Mercedes, just their drivers aren’t as good as the Mclaren drivers.

        • 1 of the 3 said on 14th April 2012, 9:06

          @ Max Jacobson I think you’re right about being “only a few tenths quicker” than the red bull. Yet, I really see Mercedes working to McLaren’s advantage. If Hamilton stay’s P2 then he’d likely be able to pass Rosberg and put serious distance between him and the rest of the field. And it’s this that I’m talking about.

          Also – Button surely needs to be p4 today. It’s crucial to McLaren’s championship to at least be just behind Hamilton in qualifying if not occasionaly beating him.

          • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 14th April 2012, 9:11

            Maybe, but they might have sorted out the tyres to an extent..

          • markp said on 14th April 2012, 9:13

            Hamilton starts 7th. He has a 5 place penalty.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th April 2012, 9:15

            As it says in the article, Hamilton is being relegated from second to seventh due to a gearbox change penalty.

          • Jake (@jleigh) said on 14th April 2012, 9:20

            hamilton may struggle to stay 2nd when he’s starting 7th

          • 1 of the 3 said on 14th April 2012, 9:27

            yes, I’ve understood the penalty to Hamilton. If you read my first reply to Max Jacobson it’s clear. This statement here is an “if” scenario. Hard sometimes to get a thought across in a few words…

          • HxCas (@hxcas) said on 14th April 2012, 10:30

            The confusion is because you said ‘stays p2′ when he isn’t in p2 to begin with

          • LuvinF1 (@luvinf1) said on 14th April 2012, 12:15

            Well, I understood what you meant the first time I read it. “If Hamilton” (had not gotten a penalty and) “stay’s P2 then he’d likely be able to pass Rosberg and put serious distance between him and the rest of the field.”

        • David BR2 said on 14th April 2012, 16:27

          Nor are Red Bull’s drivers as good as McLaren’s. Currently Alonso is better than the lot. But I liked Lewis’s comments about repeating his 2007 rookie season start, steady podiums before the wins. Nice attitude. Just hopefully with a better season finale! His real problem this race will be pit stop preference, though, if he hasn’t caught Button by the first. Another case of Button staying out a few laps more while Hamilton’s tyres turn into dust?

      • markp said on 14th April 2012, 9:06

        Dominant would be 3 poles and 2 wins so far. Mclaren are not dominant but so far this year they have a small edge. Some years i.e 2007/2008 do not have dominant cars. Dominant is 1988 Mclaren 2011 Redbull 2002/2004 Ferrari etc.

        • 1 of the 3 said on 14th April 2012, 9:11

          @markp It could very easily have been this. So perhaps “dominant’ isn’t the correct word. But McLaren is surely ahead of the rest of the field and needs to be taking better advantage of this.

          • markp said on 14th April 2012, 9:33

            Agreed they have not capitalised. As a Ferrari fan I am happy they haven’t. It’s great it’s Mclaren and not Redbull with the edge as Mclaren haven’t capitalised on producing the best car in terms of dominance since the 80′s. In 98 they had a car to dominate but title went to last race so at least they keep things intersting even if this is not intentional

  15. BBT (@bbt) said on 14th April 2012, 8:36

    Great lap Nico, I’m sure Michael could have got within 0.2 – 0.3 but what would have been the point of using more tyres.

    • David BR2 said on 14th April 2012, 16:29

      The on-board of Nico’s lap was fantastic, brilliant lap, diving into the corners with real relish and confidence. He’s due some success in Formula 1, great to see him get pole.

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