Chinese GP: Hamilton grabs first pole with Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole position with Mercedes in a Chinese Grand Prix qualifying session dominated by tyre strategy

Chinese GP: Hamilton grabs first pole with Mercedes

Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus will join Hamilton on the front row ahead of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel chose not to set a time in Q3 and can start ninth on medium tyres, while most of those ahead must use the fragile softs for their first stint.

His Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber had a disastrous session, as a fuel pressure problem stranded him in Q2.

With the soft tyres only good for one flying lap and expected to quickly fade in the race, qualifying was all about rubber conservation.

Q3 duly became a one-lap shootout in the final minute as all 10 contenders poured on the track at once at the last gasp.

Raikkonen was first to take provisional pole with a 1m34.761s.

Several likely challengers failed to match that, but Hamilton came through on a 1m34.484s to give Mercedes pole at Shanghai for a second straight year.

Alonso ended his run of being outqualified by Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa as he took third, two places ahead of the Brazilian.

Nico Rosberg split them in the second Mercedes.

Romain Grosjean was sixth for Lotus, followed by Daniel Ricciardo.

The Australian was one of the stars of qualifying as he got Toro Rosso into Q3 for the first time this year, beating team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne by 0.9 seconds in Q2.

Jenson Button joined Vettel in opting for medium and did a slow lap for eighth, while Vettel and Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg chose not to do Q3 flying laps at all.

Webber ended qualifying 14th after a fuel pressure problem forced him to park his car on the circuit in Q2. But the Australian fears he will ultimately end up at the back of the grid if the issue means his Red Bull cannot provide the mandatory fuel sample for the FIA.

Both Force Indias narrowly missed out on the top 10, with Paul di Resta just 0.029s off in 11th. Team-mate Adrian Sutil was behind Sergio Perez's McLaren in 13th.

The tyre issue even neutered Q1, which did not feature any track action until halfway through.

Toro Rosso attempted to get through on mediums, but had to make a late switch to softs as both drivers were at risk of missing the cut.

Vergne and Ricciardo's improvements meant Valtteri Bottas's Williams and Esteban Gutierrez's Sauber were the two midfield cars ousted.

Jules Bianchi had been ahead of the Toro Rossos before they moved to softs, but had to settle for his usual 19th for Marussia, still comfortably faster than his back of the grid peers.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap  1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.484s 
2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m34.761s + 0.277
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.788s + 0.304
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.861s + 0.377
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.933s + 0.449
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m35.364s + 0.880
7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.998s + 1.514
8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m05.673s + 31.189
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault no time
10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari no time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m36.261s Gap ** 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.287s + 1.209s 12. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.314s + 1.236s 13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.405s + 1.327s 14. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.679s + 1.601s 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m37.139s + 2.061s 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.199s + 2.121s Q1 cut-off time: 1m37.508s Gap * 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m37.769s + 1.976 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.990s + 2.197 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m38.780s + 2.987 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.537s + 3.744 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m39.614s + 3.821 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m39.660s + 3.867 107% time: 1m42.489s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2

AUTOSPORT Chinese GP coverage:

FP1 FP2 FP3 Qualifying Race Gallery Live commentary Official quotes

shares
comments
Chinese GP: Webber fears he will start from the back of the grid

Previous article

Chinese GP: Webber fears he will start from the back of the grid

Next article

Chinese GP: Vettel says poor pace dictated tyre strategy

Chinese GP: Vettel says poor pace dictated tyre strategy
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Teams Mercedes
Author Matt Beer
How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve Plus

How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Daniel Ricciardo has found a new lease of life at McLaren – a move that’s been years in the making, as he explains to STUART CODLING…

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari Plus

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari

Ninety years ago, Rudolf Caracciola became the first non-Italian to win the epic Mille Miglia. We look at how he stacks up to the most famous pre-war ace Tazio Nuvolari, one of the drivers he beat on that day in 1931

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Plus

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Plus

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Plus

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021
The clues Hamilton’s F1 contract afterthought gives to his future Plus

The clues Hamilton’s F1 contract afterthought gives to his future

The Formula 1 world reacted with surprise when it learned Lewis Hamilton’s long-awaited new Mercedes deal guarantees his presence on the grid only until the end of 2021. Both parties claimed publicly they were happy with the arrangement but, asks MARK GALLAGHER, is there more to it than that?

Formula 1
Apr 17, 2021
How a harshly ejected Red Bull star has been hooked by racing again Plus

How a harshly ejected Red Bull star has been hooked by racing again

Driver-turned-DJ Jaime Alguersuari lost his love for motorsport when he was booted out of Formula 1 just as he was starting to polish his rough edges. Having drifted from category to category then turned his back on racing altogether in 2015, he’s come full circle and is planning a return in karts for fun

Formula 1
Apr 17, 2021