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. 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.

  2. 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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