Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Shanghai, 2012

Rosberg claims first pole position with stunning lap

2012 Chinese Grand Prix qualifyingPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.


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


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


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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Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei

160 comments on “Rosberg claims first pole position with stunning lap”

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  1. LOL @schumacher in that photo…he looks like that embarassing extroverted uncle one has always posing like a dill in family photos

  2. just a little creation of my..could not resist

      1. LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!! EPIC!!! I´m stealing this dude!!!

  3. its great that rosberg got his first pole, but be realistic the race pace of mercedes isnt as good as the mclarens, however i expect a mercedes to finish on the podium, and kimi to finish on the podium too, lewis looks quickest over a race distance so it is lewis who will win

  4. 1. Last time that a driver left the car with several minutes of qualy left and confident that nobody will take the Pole from him, as far as I can remember, was Prost in McLaren, to put pressure on Senna. We all know how that ended…
    2. PERFECT lap from Nico. Absolutely astonishing. Not very common to see nowadays half a second of difference between 1st and 2nd in qualy. But it seems to me that races are won not with one perfect lap but with MANY less-that-perfect laps, one after another. Consistency is the key. And in that aspect, it seems to me that Schumacher is leaps ahead of Nico. Hamilton too. So, we have a lot to expect for the racing.
    3. I have the impression that Massa managed to approach a bit to Alonso. I’ve read somewhere (can’t remember where) that the Ferrari’s 2012 model was designed around Alonso’s driving style, in the same was they used to design a car around Schumacher. The driving position in relation to the front suspensions was adapted to Alonso’s instructions, and is quite lower than last year. In any case, it is evident that Massa is driving a car that he can’t understand. Even with that, he managed to put his car in Q3 for a couple of laps, until he was out. Alonso’s best lap was 0.3 better that Massa. Still a big gap, but I have the impression that something is changing. IF THAT HAPPENS (and is a big IF), I would like to see Alonso’s reaction, driving a tractor and with a more competitive teammate. But the car is a dog. It is revealing that the Saubers, with Ferrari engines, are faster and more consistent that the proper Ferraris. In my view, that says a lot of the bad product that Maranello developed this year.
    4. Kimi and Kamui. Kimi is improving and seems to be more confortable with the car, and I expect a great race from him tomorrow. Kamui is a driver that I like, the dude is fast and carry massive balls, reminds me of Hamilton few years ago. And now he has a very good car. Another one to watch tomorrow.
    5. Jenson Button. Unconfortable in the car the last two days. He is a fast dude, no question about it, and probably one of the most intelligent racers on the grid. It will be interesting to see the strategy he brings tomorrow.
    6. Best comedy moment of the qualy? The Oscar goes to Schumacher, saying “Not bad!” when the pit tells him that Nico was half a second faster…. I LOLED
    7. Anthony Davidson. I followed the session through Sky and was quite impressed with Davidson’s analysis about Vettel’s problems just following the video. His analysis of Nico’s magic lap and the differences in car response compared to Vettel was really good. Ok, Georgia’s red dress helps a lot, but Davidson brought technical knowledge to the comments.

  5. Was that the tightest Top 11 Q2 in history? That was amazing!

    Finally, Nico! Congrats.

  6. Please Ferrari, fire Fry asap. The guy just failed!

    1. Yeah great idea. Keep fire all your engineers who doesn’t manage to get it right, just like Dyer and Costa, then you’ll end up having Fernando designing the car as well, that has to be the best way to go hasn’t it…

  7. Did anyone else find the FIA’s interviewer’s comment to Nico a bit unprofessional? “congratulations on the feel good pole”
    What a ****.
    Congratulations Nico, even if he’s right.

    1. Jack Flash (Aust)
      14th April 2012, 15:15

      Errr.. You mean James Allen. JA did the post Quali top three interview for FOM Coverage.
      I didn’t think he was inferring any belittling of Nico’s accomplishment by that phrasing. More that after 100+ F1 starts, a long overdue maiden F1 pole would be “feel good” for Nico, and everyone else in F1 family being happy he got that monkey off his back.
      I don’t think JA was being sarcy.

  8. Nico was the fastest in the 2nd sector which means that Mercedes went for alot more downforce than they would if they didnt had a “Super-DRS”.

  9. nice lap from Roseberg and great result for Mercedes!
    but let’s not forget that two long straights and their double DRS helped them as well

  10. What a great qualifying session, probably the best result I’ve seen. It’s SLIGHTLY disappointing that the challenge for P1 didn’t go right down to the wire but that disappointment is more than outweighed by reveling in Rosberg’s superb lap and his decision to not bother trying to put in a better time.

    I’m really happy for Schumacher too and it will be fascinating to watch him and Rosberg battle it out down to turn 1. Schumacher has a habit of making great, if not the best starts in F1 right now so he’s well placed to jump Rosberg.

    Well done to Sauber for proving that their pace was not a fluke in Malaysia. Of course, we still have the race to go, but a team so fast on a track with the longest straight AND so easy on their tyres should make for a solid result.

    Great to see Lotus up there too. Third time lucky, Grosjean?!

    Can’t wait for tomorrow. This has the makings of a classic.

    1. @AndrewTanner I couldn’t agree more!

  11. Race will be EPIC!

  12. I’m genuinely happy for Nico and Mercedes. If they can sort the race pace out and keep up with development, he has a genuine chance of being the 3rd son of a champion to be a champion!

  13. Good effort, nice to see him extracting everything from the car, which was banging on the tarmac and sparkling on corners http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/17711862 (at 2:15)

  14. Close to the end of back straight in his perfect Q3 lap, Nico adjusted something by taking his left hand off the steering wheel. Can Keith someone put some light on that. Thanks.

    1. That kind of gesture, which must be associated to some adjustment is actually seen a lot when they show on-board feeds.
      I also don’t know what it is and I always get a bit surprised as I was under the impression that all the possible adjustments are done via the steering wheel buttons.
      Can it be just a movement for relaxing the hand considering it is not needed during acceleration in the straights?

      1. I might be reading too much but it seems to me like he adjusted something downwards..

        1. iirc I think I heard commentary saying it may have been the brake bias.

        2. Mr Agreeable
          15th April 2012, 5:15

          Its the brake balance lever, & it is quite common to see drivers continually adjust it throughout the lap

    2. Jack Flash (Aust)
      15th April 2012, 2:17

      Adjusting the Braking bias fwd.
      As Nico’s barreling down the back straight, prior to getting to the massive braking zone for the end hairpin, he places Brake bias forward more. This helps straightline Brake late and brake hard effect to the max. Thus as little loss of time at that corner as possible.

      Brake bias prior to this point on track needs a more front/rear balance. JF

  15. I’m sorry if my comment is repeating someone else’s, but I have to say that the lap from Rosberg must be one of the best ever qualifying laps of all time. Well, at least the recent times…
    When you look at how close the field was in Q2 and then he is more than 0,5s faster than anyone else on that lap it’s just something SPECTACULAR.
    It is really a good way to get his first pole: a stunning one!
    It was a very good qualifying to follow and still unpredictable. I thought the time gaps between the pack would be increasing but not at all … except for Rosberg’s perfect lap!

  16. Nico’s lap was one of the most clinical I’ve seen in a while. One lap and walks out with a grin on his face – fantastic!
    This grid is one of the best in a long time.
    I think Michael has a good chance of leading by the end of lap 1 if he does one of his usually quick starts. Tyres are a major concern for MGP, so they might need a very clever strategy today. I have my eyes on Koba and Kimi.. it’ll be very interesting to watch those two in the first stint. There’s a good chance of Hamilton getting to the top but, from P7, it looks pretty difficult considering the Sauber ahead has phenomenal long-run pace. Button on the other hand, could find himself fighting with Kimi and if he can dial the car in within the first couple laps, chances are good that he’ll make it into the top 3. Key is if Webber is able to get past him in the first lap or two, Button might try to undercut him with an earlier stop.

    Its all set up nicely for today.. 4 hours to go!

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