Red Bull can’t keep Hamilton from pole in the rain

2014 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying

Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth pole position at a rain-hit Shanghai International Circuit.

The two Red Bull drivers will line up behind him on the grid after Nico Rosberg made two mistakes in the final minutes of qualifying.

Q1

Formula One’s run of wet qualifying sessions continued in Shanghai. Apart from the last round in Bahrain – which, being held in a desert, naturally sees little rain – every contest for pole position has been held on a track that was at least damp.

That was certainly the case when Q1 began in Shanghai. Most drivers began the session on wets with a handful using intermediates.

In the final minutes the track conditions improved enough for intermediate tyres to be used. Adrian Sutil wielded them to good effect, and having been in the drop zone throughout much of Q1 made it through to the next phase.

The same could not be said for his team mate Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to make the cut.

Jules Bianchi was one of the first drivers to run in the intermediate tyres but spoiled is first lap by going wide at the final corner.

With both Caterhams and Marussias out in Q1 as usual, Pastor Maldonado joined them as Lotus were unable to change his broken engine from final practice in time.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’58.988
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1’59.260
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1’59.326
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2’00.646
21 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2’00.865
22 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault

Q2

The conditions continued to fluctuate in the second part of qualifying, with more rain falling including a fresh shower a few minutes before the chequered flag. This cost a few drivers who ended the session on intermediates and was a blessing for Nico Hulkenberg, who scraped through into Q3 thanks to the last-minute rain.

Hamilton ended the session quickest with Vettel a threatening second, just a few tenths of a second behind.

But the ever-changing grip levels on the track caught out several drivers. Among them was Kimi Raikkonen, who also had a downshift problem on his final run and ended up 11th, missing the cut for Q3.

Both McLaren drivers also failed to secure progression into the final ten – Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen complained of a lack of grip from the intermediate tyres.

This presented an opportunity for Lotus to claim their first place in Q3 this year and Romain Grosjean seized it. The two Williams drivers also claimed places in the final ten.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’56.860
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’56.963
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1’57.289
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1’57.393
15 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1’57.675
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’58.264

Q3

The rain eased a little in time for the pole position shoot-out but even so Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg and Jean-Eric Vergne opted for wet weather tyres for their first run. After that they joined their rivals in taking on intermediate tyres for their final effort.

Vettel set the first benchmark time but it was swiftly beaten by Hamilton, who found six tenths of a second. Rosberg slotted into second in the other Mercedes, and like his rivals opted for two flying runs at the end of the session.

But he made mistakes in the final sector on both of them. The number six car skidded wide at the turn 14 hairpin on Rosberg’s first run, and he failed to improve his time with his final effort after spinning at the last corner.

That left the door open for Red Bull to attack – led by Daniel Ricciardo, who was over half a second quicker than team mate Vettel. Not surprisingly, he said there was nothing left in the car as he returned to the pits.

That left Rosberg fourth of Alonso, but the Ferrari driver was over one-and-a-half seconds off the pace. The two Williams drivers were next, with Grosjean tenth for Lotus complaining of poor low-speed traction.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’53.860
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’54.455
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’54.960
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’55.143
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’55.637
6 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’56.147
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’56.282
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’56.366
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1’56.773
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’57.079

2014 Chinese Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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110 comments on Red Bull can’t keep Hamilton from pole in the rain

  1. beninlux (@beninlux) said on 19th April 2014, 12:47

    Will this be another weekend of McLaren being the worst of the Merc powered cars?

  2. mateuss (@mateuss) said on 19th April 2014, 14:25

    It would be interesting to know why, different engine maps, different HGU-K or MGU-H wet settings or what, but many of the the cars sounded different today, mostly all the Renault cars (and some Mercedes engined cars that I noticed), they sounded more evil than usual, proper Star Wars stuff.

    I wonder why nobody is saying anything about the engine sound today? Have people stopped caring about the sound suddenly, or they don’t actually notice it much unless they are told by others that they should?

    • trotter said on 19th April 2014, 15:53

      or they don’t actually notice it much unless they are told by others that they should

      This is the case with each and every hysteria that erupts among the “fans”. I was saying the same thing about the tyres last year. Yes, they were soft, but I bet no observer would have complained that they were pushing less, or conserving tyres more, if they weren’t told so repeatedly, every single minute by commentators, Red Bull and some “experts”.

      Noone cared about noise until Bernie started moaning about it. All of a sudden everyone started talking about noise, while reporters were asking fans unassuming questions like “Do you think this noise is really bad or really crappy?”

  3. Corrado (@corrado-dub) said on 19th April 2014, 15:00

    Wave and smile ! Wow, Vettel doesn’t look that happy. Wonder why……..

  4. Michael Brown (@) said on 19th April 2014, 17:47

    With a visibility the way it was, I’m surprised Race Control didn’t cancel the session.

    BTW, my inner conspiracy theorist says Rosberg spun to prevent faster times from being posted. Hee hee hee

  5. Dizzy said on 19th April 2014, 18:58

    All the nonsence with people going on about Vettel been shown up as some sort of fraud is frankly laughable.

    Easy to forget how Vettel has had far less running in the new car than Ricciardo has & that he has had most of the reliability problems with the new systems during the race weekends.

    I think the Vettel haters are just looking for any excuse to discredit his success & put it all down to the car which is also frankly laughable given that even a great car still has to be driven by a good driver to get results & that a great driver will always get more out of it than a good driver.
    We have seen many times though history that having the best car isn’t an automatic ticket to success because you still have to have a top driver in that car to get the most out of it.

    Also interesting how people ignore 2012 when it was pretty much accepted in the F1 paddock that the McLaren was the best car, They went into the season as championship favorites because of that. And which team/driver won the championships in 2012?

    Contrary to popular belief Vettel has not always had the best car while he’s been winning. The STR of 2007/2008 wasn’t the best car by a long way yet he scored a pole, Won a race & was regularly up towards the front.
    The BMW he debuted in wasn’t the best car & he still showed great speed & scored points on his race debut on a circuit he’d never driven on in a car he hadn’t sat in for 3-4 months.

    Im no fan of Vettel but some of the comments people say about how he’s somehow not really that good & all the success/wins/championships are just a fluke because of the car is just utterly absurd & in some cases just pathetic.

    • Dizzy said on 19th April 2014, 19:02

      To add.

      Going back 20 years its all actually the same sort of nonsense people were saying about Michael Schumacher after his 94/95 championships. He wasn’t really that good, He couldn’t race or overtake & his success was down to having the better car.

      After 1996 people were no longer able to say any of that as he proved himself to be the best driver on the grid.

    • David (@neiana) said on 20th April 2014, 2:39

      Exactly. Not even Senna could win in everything.

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