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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160 comments on Rosberg claims first pole position with stunning lap

  1. Gluke said on 14th April 2012, 13:33

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

    • OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 14th April 2012, 16:42

      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…

  2. Byron R said on 14th April 2012, 13:55

    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.

    • Jack Flash (Aust) said on 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.

  3. xeroxpt (@) said on 14th April 2012, 15:20

    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”.

  4. Snafu (@snafu) said on 14th April 2012, 15:44

    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

  5. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 14th April 2012, 17:15

    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.

  6. GeorgeDaviesF1 (@georgedaviesf1) said on 14th April 2012, 17:23

    Race will be EPIC!

  7. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 14th April 2012, 17:58

    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!

  8. lubhz (@lubhz) said on 14th April 2012, 18:07

    Good effort, nice to see him extracting everything from the car, which was banging on the tarmac and sparkling on corners (at 2:15)

  9. (@akshay-it) said on 14th April 2012, 18:37

    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.

    • BaKano (@bakano) said on 14th April 2012, 18:49

      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?

    • Jack Flash (Aust) said on 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

  10. BaKano (@bakano) said on 14th April 2012, 19:49

    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!

  11. Ritesh (@rits) said on 15th April 2012, 3:53

    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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