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

  1. Chops (@chops) said on 14th April 2012, 8:38

    Fantastic session! Great to see Vettel struggling for once! Also rather happy with my prediction, predicted Rosberg to get pole with a 1:35.123 :)

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th April 2012, 8:40

      How did you predict that? You’re a wizard!

    • caci99 (@caci99) said on 14th April 2012, 8:59

      Wow, that’s a remarkable prediction. I predicted Schumi on pole, but really well done by Rosberg.
      Half a second ahead with a tight pack we have seen in the previous two races. That is something.

      • Chops (@chops) said on 14th April 2012, 12:27

        @caci99 Yes, I did briefly have Schumi on pole, but then I remembered Rosberg’s effort last year and his stuff ups in the previous qualifying sessions this year. Great to see him finally do it though, it’s funny to think that he’s been racing since 2006 without a pole or win. He thoroughly deserves it, and the gap was amazing considering how close Q2 was. Also really happy to see Kobayashi up there too! I thought we would see the end of him since Perez has really started to shine, but he bounced back wonderfully :)

  2. OOliver said on 14th April 2012, 8:38

    What a lap from Rosberg.
    Great effort too from Kobayashi.
    Button was the only disappointment today, I was expecting he would be at the very least, third.
    As for Ferrari, it is hard to know if they actually designed a car or an umbrella.

  3. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th April 2012, 8:39

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

    Nico’s first pole and people are discussing who’s going to jump him at the start? Disturbing!

  4. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th April 2012, 8:43

    Fingerboy missed Q3. Wherever his finger is; I know for a face that he’s showing eleven of them now. Horner’s full hand and his middle finger.

  5. sato113 (@sato113) said on 14th April 2012, 8:49

    mercedes were actually very average in the speed trap. the saubers were on top.

  6. The Money (@pamphlett31220) said on 14th April 2012, 8:51

    I think anyone of the top 11 on the grid could win this race…and i can’t remember the last time i was so hesitant to pick a winner!.I predicted lewis for the win but i have a feeling Schumacher may add to his tally come tomorrow.

  7. Autopulated (@autopulated) said on 14th April 2012, 8:56

    Looks like maybe I should have predicted Kobayashi a higher finish than fourth!

  8. Carlota said on 14th April 2012, 8:56

    Vettel ,where is your finger? The tires should be the key in tomorrow race

  9. Nickpkr said on 14th April 2012, 9:00

    Looks like Sauber has a great chance to get third place on WCC

  10. Luchiano said on 14th April 2012, 9:12

    Now, the name of the game is
    1. Speed
    2. Consistency
    3. Strategy
    4. Balls
    5. and good luck with the rain !

  11. Fixy (@fixy) said on 14th April 2012, 9:17

    I support Ferrari above other teams, but above all I am an F1 fan. I’m clearly not satisifed with where Ferrari are now, but I’m extremely happy for Rosberg, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Raikkonen, Mercedes and Sauber because they all managed to obtain great results today. It was just about time for Nico to have pole position, and I’m happy especiallly because it hopefully puts an end to rumours that he is overrated.

  12. Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 14th April 2012, 9:24

    It’s like being back in the 50s with an all Silver Arrows front row. Well, except for the racing in China, DRS, gear box change penalty etc !

  13. Rahim.RG (@rahim-rg) said on 14th April 2012, 9:25

    I’m having a feeling its gonna be a hot battle between Kobayashi and Raikkonen for 3rd or maybe even further up…That depends if Raikkonen does not get jumped by Button….

  14. rahul1810 (@rahul1810) said on 14th April 2012, 9:34

    I predict Lewis to win this one. He is the best overtaker in a car that is in all certainty the fastest in the race trim. Would also love to see Kimi on the podium step along with Schumi, but I feel that Jenson and Mark might have a thing or two to say about that. It would also be really interesting to see Alonso-Vettel battle out in the opening stages, with Grosjean sandwiched between them.

  15. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 14th April 2012, 10:15

    Nico’s lap was absolutely stunning. He hit every apex and every braking point down to the last millisecond. I think at the end he knew it as well and got out of the car with 4 minutes remaining !!! How often have we seen that happening, not very, even last year when Vettel was out qualifying everyone it was usually at the last second. Talk about confidence. I hope they do well, seriously well and Nico seems like the guy who deserves a win more than anyone else. Yet, I’m not ready to bet on the Mercedes yet because of their tyre issues and still call a McLaren win tomorrow. If Mercedes manage it, I think they would jump to the team to beat this year.

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