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

  1. Fixy (@fixy) said on 13th April 2013, 10:15

    It’s now the second (or possibly third) time that I now hope and to a certain extent believe that Massa will take pole, this is a good sign but also a sad one :(

  2. Theodosios (@theovog) said on 13th April 2013, 11:00

    Ι think that the soft tyres will last longer that we all think they will. With cooler temps expected for tomorrow, I reckon 8-10 laps for the softs. Also, some said today that the softs were almost 1.5 secs faster than the mediums and Button even said 5 secs faster. So, if Lotus and Ferrari can jump Hamilton on lap 1 (who is currently the favorite for winning tomorrow) and keep a good pace on the much faster soft tyre for as long as it last, they may end up in front of the traffic (or at least not stuck behind many cars). Also, both Ferrari and Lotus have good top speeds, so they shouldn’t have any problems passing slower cars on used mediums with their fresh mediums. The big question for tomorrow is this: 2 pit stops or 3? The evolution over the course of mere minutes that the track showed today, maybe suggests 2 stops? I honestly can’t make a prediction on that one.

  3. DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 13th April 2013, 11:36

    Nico is beginning to make a habit of choking when it counts in qualifying. This isn’t the first time he’s looked good in Q1 and Q2 but then failed to deliver in the final part.

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 13th April 2013, 12:37

      @Davef1 I think 4th undermines his actual lap though – he was effectively only a whisker away from 2nd, and a tenth covers three cars.

    • zvoni (@zvoni) said on 13th April 2013, 12:38

      Maybe Rosberg is not doing anything fundamentally wrong. It is also possible they use free practice sessions and Q1 and Q2 in different ways and with different aims. So Hamilton is simply able to connect all the bits and pieces together when it matters the most.

  4. Jason (@jason12) said on 13th April 2013, 11:46

    Rosburg is P4; if Schumacher was P7 today with this same car no-one would think Merc has the fastest car.

    Ross Brawn would still be seen as a disappointment. It’s obviously very hard to determine which bit driver and which is car.

    No disrespect to Seb but a part of me also feels like there’s so much more to be extracted out of that already dominant Redbull. Guess we’ll never really know….

    • Klaas (@klaas) said on 13th April 2013, 11:57

      That’s why they got a speed-nut like Ham on board – to see if they have come out with a piece of crap or a winner car. Now they know, unlike McLaren who are still wondering weather they have crappy drivers or car, or both.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th April 2013, 15:49

      No disrespect to Seb but a part of me also feels like there’s so much more to be extracted out of that already dominant Redbull. Guess we’ll never really know….

      @jason12 – We won’t know, but going by your earlier logic, if Vettel wasn’t taking those wins, Webber would have lost to Alonso and Button in 2010/11, plus several others in 2012. We wouldn’t be able to determine that the Red Bull was the best, let alone “dominant” (and the 2010/2012 cars weren’t “dominant”, 2012 especially was a highly competitive season with numerous winning teams). It’s just very difficult to claim that more can be extracted, when SV took 21 wins and 3 titles in 3 years.

    • Last year in China Mercedes started first and second – a better qualifying result than this year. And nobody who knew anything about F1 thought this meant that “Mercedes had the fastest car” back then.

  5. tvm (@) said on 13th April 2013, 12:55

    This need fixing, two easy solutions:

    No time set in Q3 > back of grid (there could be tech issues)

    Not within 107% in Q3 = No Start

    The 3 trailers ought to get a penalty for discrediting the sport.

    • josephrobert (@josephrobert) said on 13th April 2013, 16:32

      Its only qualifying what do you want next, points on a Saturday?

      Forcing Q3 runners to start on the tyres they Qualified on is a disadvantage to them.
      Having them use up more rubber then those who didn’t participate in Q3 is a disadvantage.

      when those two disadvantages are worse then starting on 10th, especially if they are not going to be able to get higher than 8th, 9th or 10th, then they don’t play ball and don’t drive to save tyres and or choose the Tyre they start on.

  6. Theoddkiwi (@theoddkiwi) said on 13th April 2013, 13:04

    I think the most interesting thing would have been if Merc had both Ros and Ham to do a qualifying run on the mediums at the very start of Q3, leaving enough time to run the Softs for a second run.

    That would have forced all those who were going to do untimed runs to commit to either softs or medium with proper runs.

    The run on softs by vettel at the start of Q3 made no sense if they always intended to start on the mediums. I sense Redbull are panicking i little bit.

    I don’t think the medium runners will have as clear cut run to the podium as some think. The last two races have not panned out as many had predicted with the tyres. I think the soft /med/med stratigy will work out better than expected.

    • I think the soft /med/med stratigy will work out better than expected

      A two-stopper? That seems unlikely. The guys at the front are looking at a soft/medium/medium/medium three-stop strategy. Those who decided to start on mediums have a few different options as to when to run the softs, depending on how the race unfolds.

      I wonder if we’ll see a race this year where somebody uses up all their rubber and has to drop out?

  7. Hamilfan (@hamilfan) said on 13th April 2013, 13:27

    Ok , I understand that the front runners will have to pit and the mid field will be leading , however , at the end of the medium stint for the mid field , the top qualifiers will have better rubber though behind.Can it somehow end up in their ( p1,p2,p3) favour? one thing is sure , If you want to win you have got to overtake well . Shame red bull took the “medium” route . We could have seen his wheel to wheel skills earlier on in the race

  8. R.J. O'Connell (@rjoconnell) said on 13th April 2013, 13:44

    Checo and Pastor struggling in lackluster machines isn’t fun to watch, and as someone who doesn’t try to complain about the tyres in F1, that session was about as silly as the flap over delayed qualifying in Melbourne.

    Color me intrigued as to how the race itself will play out though, with the Mercedes and Ferrari team clearly ahead of the class on pace, Lotus’s drivers are right up there too – and on the other end, surely RBR will start both their drivers on prime tyres and try and use strategy to their advantage along with having a quick car.

  9. Francorchamps (@francorchamps17) said on 13th April 2013, 15:19

    Disappointing performance of Gutierrez, Bottas and Chilton. These tree rookies should not be in Formula 1.

    • Giggsy11 (@giggsy11) said on 13th April 2013, 16:00

      Also Vergne and Grosjean by your view.
      (Comparison to team mate)
      Gutierrez: +1.729 (Hulk Q2 time)
      Bottas: +0.630
      Chilton: +0.757
      Vergne: +1.201
      Grosjean: +0.603

  10. Anyone know when the last time a Toro Rosso out qualified both Red Bulls?

  11. Traverse (@) said on 13th April 2013, 20:17

    This pole position from Hamilton just goes to show how vital he was to the development of the McLaren. I’d bet big money that if Lewis had stayed put, it would be a McLaren on pole for tomorrows race.

    I’m also beginning to think that Perez’s decision to move to McLaren could be his undoing. When Kovalainen moved to McLaren he was seen as a young driver full of potential and promise. Sadly, upon his exit no top team would touch him with a barge pole, due to his perceived failure to cut the mustard at the highest level. I fear the same future lies ahead for the young Mexican.

    As for Button, well, he really has to pull his socks up and lead this team like a true No.1. McLaren appear to lack leadership at present and if Button doesn’t step up, his future could also hang in the balance. With a clear rift forming at RedBull, I could see McLaren poaching Vettel, along with another dynamic, proven driver (Sutil, Kobayashi, Maldonado) to freshen up the stale looking, uninspiring McLaren garage.

    • panache (@panache) said on 13th April 2013, 23:59

      This pole position from Hamilton just goes to show how vital he was to the development of the McLaren. I’d bet big money that if Lewis had stayed put, it would be a McLaren on pole for tomorrows race.

      Haha! This is quite a stretch of the imagination to say the least. Hamilton may well be the fastest driver over 1 lap in F1 but even if that is true, he doesn’t bring over a second of raw pace to a car. I also fail to comprehend how this in any way demonstrates “how vital he was to the development of the Mclaren”.

      With a clear rift forming at RedBull, I could see McLaren poaching Vettel, along with another dynamic, proven driver (Sutil, Kobayashi, Maldonado) to freshen up the stale looking, uninspiring McLaren garage.

      Hahahah I’m literally bursting into tears laughing right now. Sutil, Kobayashi and Maldonado are dynamic, proven drivers that you would favour over Button and Perez?

      I could understand an argument for Sutil to replace Perez if the latter fails to meet expectations but certainly not Kobayashi who was glaringly inconsistent throughout his tenure at Sauber and who lost to Perez as his teammate last season, nor Maldonado who shares similar traits but also crashes a lot more and that’s saying something considering Kobayashi’s antics.

      • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 14th April 2013, 0:48

        This is quite a stretch of the imagination to say the least. Hamilton may well be the fastest driver over 1 lap in F1 but even if that is true, he doesn’t bring over a second of raw pace to a car. I also fail to comprehend how this in any way demonstrates “how vital he was to the development of the Mclaren”.

        I beg to differ. @hellotraverse has a valid point. At least the McLaren would be further up the grid with Hamilton, im pretty certain of that. And in terms of development, we know that Hamilton likes to spend time with his mechanics and engineers. It’s only logical to assume that he has had an influence with Merc’s development. Either way, the results (so far) speaks for itself.

      • Traverse (@) said on 14th April 2013, 9:46

        @panache

        Sutil, Kobayashi and Maldonado are dynamic, proven drivers that you would favour over Button and Perez?

        Yes actually. I’d favour a pairing of Vettel with one of the aforementioned drivers over the lacklustre Button and Perez.

        Haha! This is quite a stretch of the imagination to say the least. Hamilton may well be the fastest driver over 1 lap in F1 but even if that is true, he doesn’t bring over a second of raw pace to a car. I also fail to comprehend how this in any way demonstrates “how vital he was to the development of the Mclaren”.

        It’s clear that over the last five years McLaren have developed their car around Hamilton’s driving style. With Ham’s departure they’ve been forced to develop the car around Button, with mediocre results. If Hamilton had stayed at McLaren, they would’ve honed the car for Ham’s driving style throughout the pre-season and thus would’ve had a car capable of pole.

  12. nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 13th April 2013, 22:54

    Great drive by Bianchi again. Almost a second clear from the bottom and closer than ever to the guys in front. That’s drivers effort . That guy should have a faster car. Hulk is up there again, better than Perez as Lewis is better than Button.

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