Hamilton on pole as Red Bull hit trouble

2013 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2013Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes on pole position on his third attempt for the team.

He completed a clean sweep of all three parts of qualifying and beat Kimi Raikkonen by three tenths of a second to claim his first pole for the Silver Arrows.

Team mate Nico Rosberg will start from the second row alongside Fernando Alonso.

But there were problems for Red Bull. Mark Webber dropped out in Q2 due to a fuel problem and Sebastian Vettel didn’t set a time in Q3 after going off at the hairpin.

Q1

The need to save tyres for the race was clearly weighing heavily on the minds of teams as qualifying began. Nine minutes of the first session passed before anyone took to the track.

Most drivers chose the soft tyres whose short life make them a poor proposition for the race. The two Mercedes led the running with Felipe Massa taking third ahead of Mark Webber, followed by their respective team mates.

The Toro Rosso drivers were the only ones to start the session on medium tyres but were unable to set a time fast enough for Q2 on them. Jules Bianchi’s Marussia was among those quicker than them.

A late switch to softs secured the passage of both drivers to Q2 at the expense of Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas. Bianchi had to settle for 19th and Chilton held on to 20th ahead of the Caterhams despite a water pressure problem preventing him from running again.

Both Force India drivers made it through but Adrian Sutil was unhappy at being held up. “[Kimi] Raikkonen destroyed my lap so please tell the stewards,” he said as he returned to the pits.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’37.769
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’37.990
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’38.780
20 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’39.537
21 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’39.614
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’39.660

Q2

The front runners returned to the track on their same tyres from Q1. But with those behind them opting for new tyres to try to reach Q3, all the drivers had to use new tyres eventually.

Hamilton remained on top with both his laps. Alonso’s last effort brought him within a tenth of a second of the Mercedes and Vettel was third.

But disaster struck Mark Webber who came to a halt at turn 14, his RB9 apparently out of fuel. He was only a few hundred metres from the pit lane entrance.

The divide between those who made the cut and those who didn’t was measured in hundredths of a second. Nico Hulkenberg was the last man into Q3, Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez missing out by less than a tenth of a second.

The Force India driver felt he could have found the missing time, “if we can keep the tyres on the ground all the way to the second corner”. Team mate Adrian Sutil also failed to make the cut.

Webber slipped out of the final ten and ended up 14th. Jean-Eric Vergne failed to make it into Q3 but his team mate did, to the surprise of Button when he was given the top ten run-down: “Ricciardo? Wow…” he said.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’36.287
12 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’36.314
13 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’36.405
14 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’36.679
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’37.139
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’37.199

Q3

Vettel left the pits the moment qualifying began but returned to the pits without setting a time. The track remained empty until three minutes before the end, none of the teams wanting to waste an extra set of tyres.

Although all the cars eventually left the pits, not all of them set times. Hulkenberg and Vettel ventured out on mediums but the latter returned to the garage after going off at the hairpin. Button also used the medium tyres and did set a time, albeit a dawdling two-minute lap to ensure he started in front of Vettel.

But not everyone was holding back. Raikkonen put in a scorching first sector time and carried his advantage through to the line, setting a 1’34.761.

It looked like that might be good enough for pole position when Nico Rosberg made an mistake in the final corner and came across the line a tenth of a second slower. But Hamilton in the other Mercedes produced a clean lap and beat Raikkonen by three tenths of a second.

Alonso demoted Rosberg a further place and Massa took fifth ahead of Grosjean. Daniel Ricciardo claimed seventh for Toro Rosso, the last of the drivers on soft tyres.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’34.484
2 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’34.761
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’34.788
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’34.864
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’34.933
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’35.364
7 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’35.998
8 Jenson Button McLaren 2’05.673
9 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault No time
10 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari No time

2013 Chinese Grand Prix

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153 comments on Hamilton on pole as Red Bull hit trouble

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  1. J23 said on 13th April 2013, 8:28

    The FIA’s fault. Get rid of the stupid “start the race on the tyres you qualified on” regulation, then we might actually get some action in Q3.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 13th April 2013, 23:46

      No, actually, it’s the fans’ fault.

      Everyone demands more exciting races, more exciting qualifying sessions, and more excitement all round. The teams and the FIA try to accomodate this, but as soon as they do, everyone moans about how there is too much emphasis on “improving the show”, as if those changes were not brought in to cater to you.

      The demand for constant excitement and the unabashed criticism of the sport the moment there is anything less than total excitement is the real problem here.

  2. Zantkiller (@zantkiller) said on 13th April 2013, 8:29

    I think that was one of the worst qualifying sessions I have seen.
    Really feel sorry for the fans at the track.

    • Luckily there were only a handful of them judging by the arias pictures. Still – not a good advert for F1 in China.

      • Or even aerial pictures!

        • Blackmamba (@blackmamba) said on 13th April 2013, 9:32

          If F1 was gonna take off in China it would have done so in the last 10 years. What it needs is a competitive Chinese driver, and there aren’t many of those in the lower Formulas.

      • Dav82 said on 13th April 2013, 11:34

        The tyre situation is a joke do Pirrelli not realise that there global brand is becoming a laughing stock with these low quality tyres never had such nonsense with Michelin bring them back it will improve F1 also let them race bring back bigger better engines like Ferrarri F4 FIA are making this amazing sport dull.

        • Nick.UK (@) said on 13th April 2013, 12:40

          People go on about wanting qually tyres, then complain when we effectively see what having them would be like. The medium tyre is fine. The only problem here is the rule making drivers start on the tyre they started on (and also to use both compaounds).

          Cracking jobs by Kimi and Lewis and hard luck for Mark. Vettel’s strategy has confused me though. His facial expressions when he came in for weighing suggested that it wasn’t so much a planned strategy as a last minute decision that maybe Red Bull could regret.

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 13th April 2013, 12:42

            *start on the tyre they qualified on

          • People go on about wanting qually tyres, then complain when we effectively see what having them would be like.

            That’s because these are race tyres @nick-uk and have to be used in the duration of the race! Qually tyres would be fine as long as the race tyres weren’t anything like as non-durable!

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 13th April 2013, 15:15

            Yes, the rule is a travesty.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 13th April 2013, 17:05

            @vettel1

            If you want tyres to degrade, drivers will ALWAYS manage them.

            Even on the bridgestones drivers had to manage their tyres, lest they lock a wheel.

            The tyres make for fantastic racing.

          • @mike *did. The drivers are unable to push now, which I say affects the racing for the worse.

            Pirelli had struck a good balance towards the middle of last season – there’s still some mixing up, but the good teams can actually use their advantage.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 14th April 2013, 4:49

            @vettel1

            It was the same last year, give it some time, and the teams will get more life from the tyres, at the end of the year, they will be doing 1 stoppers again perhaps.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 13th April 2013, 10:07

      Thanks for that. It helps me deal with the fact that my hard disk was full, so I couldn’t record qualifying. :-/

      • nackavich (@nackavich) said on 13th April 2013, 11:06

        Yeah, you missed very little.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th April 2013, 11:59

        Sorry to say so, but there was plenty to see actually. Q1 was not empty for more than the regular 3-6 minutes at the strat, we saw several of them do 2 runs in Q2 and in Q3 it was a tense wait to see what everyone would do before we had a pretty close fight for the pole in the last 3 minutes @verstappen.

        Proves we at least have a good qualifying format with the 3 parts of it.

        • Nick.UK (@) said on 13th April 2013, 12:41

          No car hit the track for 8.5 minutes. Almost half the session. While Q3 was tense, nobody took to the track until 3 minutes to go.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th April 2013, 15:29

            ok, so almost half. That is still better than having a whole hour waiting until the last 12 minutes before you see the first car.
            Or even better when we had 2 sessions some wouldn’t even bother with the second session. Especially if one of the sessions was rain hit.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 13th April 2013, 17:07

            @nick-uk

            As long as you blame the FIA, and not Pirelli nor the teams then I respect your view.

            Granted those 8 minutes of waiting for me is still exciting! :D

    • 45 minutes of qualifying now means less than 20 of cars running in. Even Marussia & Caterham don’t hit the track. Sick of these tyres, at least in qualifying.

  3. Vettel is looking good on those medium tires and Kimi could be the best of the front runners if he can make that first stint last longer than his competition. Will be interesting to see how Ferrari’s do – especially if they get their flying start. Can’t wait.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 13th April 2013, 8:37

      xKimi could be the best of the front runners if he can make that first stint last longer than his competition.”

      You could say that about anyone in the top ten …

    • Blackmamba (@blackmamba) said on 13th April 2013, 9:35

      The danger Vettel and Button have is getting stuck behind Grosjean who can go very long on the softs. Vettel can’t past because he is well down on top speed and jenson just does not have fundamental performance.

    • Nick (@nick101) said on 13th April 2013, 10:05

      If Vettel or Button (even with his car disadvantage) aren’t in the lead of tomorrow’s GP by lap 9 or 10 I’ll eat my hat!

      • Antonio (@antoniocorleone) said on 13th April 2013, 19:55

        I also think that Vettel and Button could be leading after lap 10 or earlier, but I think that they probably can’t make the mediums last for more than 12-13 laps because of the high fuel loads at the start. If it is so, than the top 5 are pretty safe from them as they can catch up with the new mediums. The thing will be – how will the soft tyre work at the end stint for VET and BUT.

  4. tmax (@tmax) said on 13th April 2013, 8:33

    Three former McLaren drivers up there on the top 3 spots of the qualifying. Whitmarsh might be wondering what did we do to lose them all !!!!

    What is RBR up to ?

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 13th April 2013, 9:03

      Good point. They lost many great people recent years…

    • Solo (@solo) said on 13th April 2013, 9:21

      And not only that but his new recruit still hasn’t shown any signs of top driver brilliance. Sure maybe his still settling down and stuff but Button is beating him thoroughly and we all know Button isn’t exactly the fastest out there. If Perez ends up always being a couple of tenths slower than Button and considering Button was like that against Hamilton then it would mean Perez is like a second slower in qualifying. So not a very nice prospect if you replaced a driver with another that is like a second slower than him.

  5. Hamilton looking very good for the win, as I don’t think Ferrari’s ability to run longer on the options is going to help them enough to compensate for their slower pace on the prime.

    The Mercedes has enough straight line speed to use the DRS zones to clear traffic, three stops looks the optimum strategy, and the prime holds up well enough to push all the way, so a very short first stint will probably not hinder them too much.

    Podium for Rosberg ?

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 13th April 2013, 8:42

      I think the presence of kimi will hinder Ferrari, and possibly Vettel too if he can make those softs work long enoigh; his pace on mediums on Friday didn’t seem good though, so it might even help Mercedes if he blocks others from usimg their mediums early on.

      • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 13th April 2013, 8:56

        @nigel1

        Hamilton looking very good for the win

        Come on, let’s keep it real here. This is Lewis we’re talking about. He’ll blow up on lap 50 from a 30 second lead.

      • Teetotal said on 13th April 2013, 9:19

        I don’t think so. I think kimi will hinder the Mercedes drivers and I think that Alonso will be leading the race by the end of lap one with kimi behind as the Ferrari always have better starts and the lotus is not that bad either compared to the Mercedes. Last but not last I think that the race will be won by one of the drivers starting with the harder tire, since the top 5-7 will have to stop within the first 4-8 laps and I’m pretty sure all of them will be hindered by the traffic.

    • Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 13th April 2013, 13:19

      @solo More than Luck , Hamilton should watch his back .Kimi and alonso will be raining down him .I predict Kimi to lead after the first lap .But if there are no fuel or tyre issues , Nico and Hamilton can turn up the pace and battle it out and always finger boy will be around the corner somewhere ,maybe in third or fourth . I want webber to finish better than vettel by some freak luck …please god ! some justice after all that KERS issues for Webbo .

    • SafirXP (@) said on 13th April 2013, 19:49

      I doubt Lewis can win this. Those two behind him are really quick off the line, esp. Alonso. If there’s a drag race my money would be on him. I’m worried about the start, let alone the first stint. As a LH fan I’ll be happy if he gets on the podium. A win, I suspect, is still a few races away. Let’s hope I’m wrong. Fingers crossed..

  6. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 13th April 2013, 8:35

    I really don’t understand those going out on the soft. In my view, even HUL is in a better position than HAM!

    • I agree. Wouldn’t you have to get a 20 second lead in 6 or so laps if you were on softs and the guy behind was on medium tires? Or is that naive?

      • Bobby Balboa (@bobby-balboa) said on 13th April 2013, 8:48

        @Ben Cochrane

        The drivers starting on Primes still have to do a stint on the Options (unless they use Inter or wet). It just means that if the drivers starting on Options can only manage say 5 laps then they will come out of the pits in traffic.

        However as someone already mentioned the Merc is very fast on long straight combined with DRS should make passing easier.

        RBR & SV knew they had no chance of pole so they have gone for a very smart plan B which could see them looking good if the option starters pit early & get held up in traffic

        • JCost (@jcost) said on 13th April 2013, 15:52

          @bobby-balboa

          Autosport live commentators were impressed by Lewis 27 laps stint on options on Friday.

          • Bobby Balboa (@bobby-balboa) said on 13th April 2013, 20:24

            @jcost

            We saw last season how the Sauber drivers could draw out the option stints when everyone else was having short stints on them but I will confidently predict that NO driver will manage 27+ laps on the option in the race.

            If indeed the option will not last longer than 10 laps then Kimi & Vettel will fancy their chances.

            Vettel could have trouble getting by Button as we all know the RB has low straight line speed.

    • sdtaylor91 (@sdtaylor91) said on 13th April 2013, 8:38

      Cast your mind back to the 2010 canadian GP, we have the same situation with very fragile options. The teams that got rid of it early took the podium positions, not those who started on the prime.

      • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 13th April 2013, 9:18

        Long time ago, not really a good comparison. If you run the options at the start, you will get dropped into traffic after your first pit stop. A lot of traffic probably because the stop will be very early. If you run the options at the end, you will be slotted into your finishing position.

        (Almost) ideal strategy is available to VET: Start on new medium, pit for new mediums around lap 22-24, then pit around lap 50-52 for new softs. Just starting from the dirty side is not ideal, so BUT is in almost the same position although his mediums are slightly worn, and his car is a bit slower.

        Now it may be necessary to make three stops, but I think the mediums will hold up well enough for 26-28 laps.

        • timi (@timi) said on 13th April 2013, 11:41

          @mike-dee The problem with starting on primes is the unknown tyre life of the option.

          The front-runners can juts pit when their tyres go off, or to cover their nearest competitor. However, if say Button or Vettel leave it until the last 8 or so laps, but the softs go off majorly (i.e. more so than the front runners did in the beginning of the race), then they’ll be sitting ducks since a pit stop at the stage would most likely be suicide.

          I think we’ll see them change to the options at the first stop, just to cover the possibility of higher-than-expected degredation.

    • AlokIn (@) said on 13th April 2013, 8:58

      54 laps and cant think of 2 stops strategy will work out, remember canada 2012.
      3 stops would be the best strategy , first 4 laps on softs, next 25 laps each on medium.

  7. Bear012 said on 13th April 2013, 8:37

    I could’ve sworn I saw Vettel adjusting something near the fuel pumps just before Q2…… :P

  8. Blackmamba (@blackmamba) said on 13th April 2013, 8:39

    It would have been better for Webber to stay on the waves in Oz. He would have had a much better chance of beating Vettel from there.

  9. mani517 (@mani517) said on 13th April 2013, 8:39

    I don’t know about RedBull’s strategy call, but, looking at what they did with Sebastian Vettel’s car in Q3 starting on medium looks more like a direct consequence of him going out so early on softs in Q3. Just imagine Vettel setting his fast Q3 time on softs and coming back to pits only to find other Q3 runners are using medium?!?

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 13th April 2013, 13:57

      I think that was a ploy to convince the other teams that Vettel was going for pole on softs. If all the other teams went for mediums the strategy would be pointless, I am surprised that over teams did not go for it, at least for one of their drivers.

      • mani517 (@mani517) said on 13th April 2013, 19:30

        I doubt that, if it was indeed a ploy, it wasn’t worth a fresh set of tires. Looking at Vettel’s Q2 approach, may be, they were looking to avoid late traffic with that first run, but since, no one else showed up they might have chosen to pit him to avoid becoming the odd one with the softs in the grid.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th April 2013, 15:32

      Had they not even gone out, they could have well had all others starting in front (now he ended up in front of the two cars that did not even go out on any tyres).

  10. Bobby Balboa (@bobby-balboa) said on 13th April 2013, 8:42

    “Vettel is looking good on those medium tires”

    As long as he doesn’t get involved in a 1st lap incident which is always a greater risk if you are closer to the middle of the grid.

    It’s gonna be an exciting start & 1st stint to the race

  11. Genc Ndreca (@gencster) said on 13th April 2013, 8:43

    Hamilton will be pleased to know that mercedes has 100% pole to win conversion :)

  12. Yoshitsune (@yobo01) said on 13th April 2013, 8:46

    Is Vettel supposed to start with the mediums he used in Q3? I thought that if you don’t set a timed lap in Q3 you can choose your tyres at the start, but everyone says otherwise.

  13. Not Hamilton’s biggest fan but I was pleased for the guy. He looked so relieved. And KIMI, where’d you come from. I hope we wins it tomorrow although he kept talking about not having the speed during his more than usual cant-be-bothered interview.

    Looking further back, we’ll be wondering what Vettel and the other medium compounders are up to. We’ve said it before but it’s shaping up to be an exciting race…hope we’re not disappointed.

  14. robbiepblake (@driftin) said on 13th April 2013, 9:02

    Pirelli need to change their tyres drastically. We want to see competing and racing, not saving. I understand that there needs to be strategy involved too, but this aggressive tyre wear is just silly.

    It says a lot when it’s the people who are not pushing themselves in qualifying are looking better for the race than those who did.

    • robbiepblake (@driftin) said on 13th April 2013, 9:03

      Having said that, as a Hamilton and Kimi fan, I do hope that I’m wrong.

    • mani517 (@mani517) said on 13th April 2013, 9:12

      Just saying, with the rules we now have, if FIA can get rid of the rule that demands top 10 drivers to start on tires they qualified on, then, we’ll see everyone running on Q3 with the faster tires.

      • mani517 (@mani517) said on 13th April 2013, 9:15

        And that would eliminate the influence of tire wear on qualifying.

      • Bobby Balboa (@bobby-balboa) said on 13th April 2013, 9:22

        @mani517

        Exactly, this rule was always a bad idea. Why would you penalise the Q1 runners for going with a fast tire & it often makes the driver in 11th place have an advantage over someone that qualified higher than him

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th April 2013, 9:26

        @mani517

        if FIA can get rid of the rule that demands top 10 drivers to start on tyres they qualified on, then, we’ll see everyone running on Q3 with the faster tyres.

        Exactly.

        • mani517 (@mani517) said on 13th April 2013, 15:17

          @kiethcollantine I wonder what FIA was thinking when they came up with that rule. “Guys you outclassed the rest of the grid, so, in their favor we ask you to do the first stint with the used tyre. That way they can keep up with you or even beat you… agreed?”

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th April 2013, 15:39

            When that rule was brought in @mani517 we still had bridgestone where people were able to sometimes go almost the full distance with the softer tyres offered and regularly go about 1/3-1/2 distance, so it was not as big a disadvantage.
            The target of it was to achieve what it did today – to get some of those who were not into the pole hunt to qualify on the harder tyres and thereby get a bit of variation with the strategies.

            But honestly, it never was a well though out rule.

  15. Jason (@jason12) said on 13th April 2013, 9:23

    Ricciardo and Button could ruin Seb’s race tomorrow….

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