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.


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

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160 comments on Rosberg claims first pole position with stunning lap

  1. Valentino (@valentino) said on 14th April 2012, 10:29

    Sorry off topic, but I got to ask, How come SKY is transmitting all the races?!!

    • stevienodrinksf1 (@stevienodrinksf1) said on 14th April 2012, 11:31

      Because that is the deal they arranged with BBC and Bernie. Those who are paying the money to watch on the New sky channel would not have been very happy in forking out all that for only half the races.

      • Valentino (@valentino) said on 14th April 2012, 12:27

        So how are you guys in Britain watching F1, on SKY?

        • On Sky or the BBC (when the BBC broadcast it, they are doin 10 races this year)

          On the races the BBC arnt doing, youll need a Sky sub or watch BBC highlights later on.

          • Valentino (@valentino) said on 14th April 2012, 15:01

            I think next year you will only be able to watch on SKY and pay EUR 500. What happened to “Free of charge F1″?

          • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 14th April 2012, 21:36

            All sport, not just F1, is becoming too expensive for FTA.

            An ex-BBC guy (Sir Paul Fox) recently revealed that the BBC has all but given up on chasing broadcasting rights for any sport…

            Today’s Grand National is their last, F1 probably won’t last the length of the promised ’till 2018′ mooted when the Sky deal was revealed, Wimbledon is prohibitively expensive (even for a heritage event) and the Olympics has proven obscenely costly to the tax payer as the BBC have massively over-invested for the level of interest.

            Basically, if you want to watch sport, you need pay TV.

  2. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 14th April 2012, 10:36

    A world class lap from Nico, I always knew he had it in him, I get annoyed when people say he is average, he has the abillity to be a serial race winner. Will be interesting to see if the mercs have solved there race problems with tyre wear have been solved if not I dont think they will win and it will be fascinating to see what kobayashi does at the start and dont rule kimi he looks fast and he is still as good as ever.

    As a ferrari man i need it to rain because they are not good enough, suaber is quicker than them and the midfield will bec close with alonso, seb and massa near grosjean whos had accidents at the start of his grand prix’s.

    Hope the drs is not too strong so we get some good wheel to wheel racing and drivers show their skill and the quick cars dont just breeze through, any1 in the top 11 could win and sprinkle some rain and literally any1 can win.


    • vanja said on 14th April 2012, 16:43

      the only thing that can stop fernando from a great result is grosejan hitting him on the first corner

  3. JohnBt said on 14th April 2012, 10:48

    Best quali session for 2012. The first lap will be intriguing.

  4. Daniel (@daniel) said on 14th April 2012, 11:13

    Outstanding lap from Nico! Though Michael’s qualifying form so far this year was good (better than Nico’s), I still think Nico has the edge over Michael. And he just showed that.
    Anyway, their qualifying form has improved as much as their race pace has decreased. So, all in all, I think they’ll struggle a lot in the race tomorrow.
    Somehow, I think they’ll be lucky if they (Mercedes) finish 4th in the constructors, considering Lotus and Sauber form this year (not to mention the McLaren and RedBull). They still have a problem with traction (somehow, they cannot get the most of their engine).

  5. I really hope that Mercedes will finish 1-2 tomorrow and prove that people are wrong to think they have only qualy car and write them off as soon as qualiy has ended…I still think they are capable of winning and i am pretty sure that they have made a really good step forward with their car,when they hit Barcelona next month.

    • gorgonzola said on 14th April 2012, 11:25

      indeed they did with an illegal design as is customary from Brawn FIA was NEVER going to rule that illegal….lets be honest here…as they did with Brawn Gp gives more drama…pathetic…

      • Jack said on 14th April 2012, 12:32

        You sir, should grow up…. the FIA declared it legal… I guess Mercedes interpreted the rules better than anyone else as was the case when it was BRAWN GP. I guess you are just bitter that Ross Brawn is as smart as he is!
        Where were you when the RB7 rolled out huh??? If Newey does it, it´s brilliant?? Get a life man!

  6. gorgonzola said on 14th April 2012, 11:23

    What a joke brawn does it again in 3 years….. First the double deck diff. now this…
    FIA passing this as legal is a joke its once again a gentlemanly agreement is down the drain. I for once hope the teams realise that Brawn is there to play dirty and they spring a surprise next year…

    take the DRS out of the Merc 4th car at best….disgusting…

    Lotus updates are a joke they had to revert so in retrospect Kimi did an amazing job… So far Lotus seems to be good 2 races and fall apart come China…sad…

    • Mercedes have managed to find a grey area in the regulations and used it to their advantage, that’s what f1’s all about. He’s a smart man, not a joke.
      I’m no Mercedes fan but I admire their innovation, and I like that they’ve dislodged Mclaren from the front row

      • gorgonzola said on 14th April 2012, 12:23

        indeed grey and so are the diff. few years ago…really who are you trying to kid….

        FIA declared it legal to ad spice as it did to Brawn GP to break up the status quo.

        I could not care less about Rosberg or Merc, if he took pole by 4 seconds good for him but it shows how this “loophole” is messing the real picture again as it did in 2009….shame…

        • Brawn has found something in the regulations that other teams have missed, as many other teams have done in the past.
          F1 has changed since the Senna/Schumacher days, where normally the team with the biggest budget or the team with the biggest technical advantage (such as active suspension on the FW14), any advantage you can find you take.

      • gorgonzola said on 14th April 2012, 12:26

        In fairness Rosberg deseres a good result but not like this in my eyes…. its just jaded and it will be remembered aaahh well he had the DRS. I wont forget the moment Brawn GP didnt have “tech supremacy” Button pretty much neutralised for the remainder of the season…

    • Jack said on 14th April 2012, 12:37

      Again…. you sir need to grow up… Mercedes interpreted the rules better than anyone else… There is nothing ilegal about that… I guess it stings you a bit that Ross Brawn is above average when it comes to being smart!

      Oh, BTW, everybody in F1 plays dirty and is out to win no matter what…. just look at RBR and their EBD!!! Where is your arguement about that??? That should have been ilegal from the start, but i guess you thought it was innovative huh?? Grow up and get a life man!!

    • bag0 (@bag0) said on 14th April 2012, 14:01

      Well, I remember at least 2 other teams using DDD at the first race in 2009, so deeming it legal was not because of Brawn…

    • vanja said on 14th April 2012, 16:48

      if the mercedes DRS is that good why are other teams ONLY thinking is it worthwile copying or not. and thank God that someone made a new great thing. seeing red bull not even close to pole makes my day, even if i’m an alonso fan and i’d like to see him winning

  7. Nigel said on 14th April 2012, 11:28

    Great lap by Rosberg.

    Anyone know who managed to save a fresh set of options ? Rosberg & Kobyashi for sure, but otherwise tough to keep track.

    • I think Raikkonen got away with one lap only in both Q1 (hards?) and Q2. He did go out for a second attempt in Q3, but aborted so he’s got one set of softs pretty much just scrubbed.

      Didn’t think Kobayashi had saved a set of softs, he used two in Q2 I think and same for Rosberg?

  8. The BBC commentators said Hamilton set his Q3 time on scrubbed tyres. He aborted his run on new tyres. …So this means he is starting on scrubbed tyres? I haven’t heard anyone mention this yet.

    Were the BBC commentators right? I thought they were wrong at the time that they said that. I thought he used mediums in Q1 and ONLY 1 set of softs in Q2. Anyone know the truth?

    • Good point, yes they did say that, but that means his tyres will be less worn that everyone else as he did less of a lap than the others. But then again it means Rosberg and a few others will have an extra set of brand new tyres for the race. It was colder as the session wore on which is why nobody could challenge Nico later on, sorry if you already knew that!

    • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 14th April 2012, 12:34

      Hamilton went out for a second time at the end of Q2, but pitted at the end of his outlap.

      • Thanks AdrianMorse. So he will basically have tyres in about the same shape as everyone else. The Mercedes drivers will both have 1 new set of softs, but they will in all likelihood suffer so badly with tyre wear that that won’t be much of an advantage for them.

  9. Considering that the track got slower in the later part of Q3 and that both Ferrari’s were within .5 secs off the fastest time in Q2, I am happy that Ferrari have shown progress.
    Not sure what Alonso is worried about since they clearly said this track doesn’t suit the characteristics of their car.

    If they get their Spain upgrade to be working as intended, then Ferrari might surprise a lot of people (including themselves?)

    Can’t wait to see the race.

    • vanja said on 14th April 2012, 16:50

      he is worried because he knows they don’t have a big upragade for spain. they are just saying that to calm people down. it looks to me as if they are only prepearing for the 2013 season

    • Snafu (@snafu) said on 14th April 2012, 17:51

      he is worried because he knows no big upgrade will sort out their problems

  10. If it’s wet than Mercedes needn’t worry about tyre wear, last time I heard it was 30% chance of rain for the race, anyone got a better forecast?

    If it’s dry then who’s going to come through to win it? Any one of about 5 drivers by the look of it.

  11. me262 said on 14th April 2012, 11:59

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

  12. evolutionut (@evolutionut) said on 14th April 2012, 12:04

    just a little creation of my..could not resist

  13. 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

  14. Horacio said on 14th April 2012, 13:09

    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.

  15. Shimks (@shimks) said on 14th April 2012, 13:22

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

    Finally, Nico! Congrats.

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