Vettel storms to Chinese GP pole

Sebastian Vettel remained unbeatable in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, maintaining the form that saw him top all three Shanghai practice sessions to sweep to his third pole from three races in 2011

Vettel storms to Chinese GP pole

But while one Red Bull sat on top of the qualifying results with a lap 0.7 seconds quicker than the McLarens, the other will start the race in 18th after a disaster for Mark Webber.

His car was repaired from its morning problems in time to join the session, but appeared to be running without KERS and was kept on the harder tyres at the end of Q1 as everyone else near the cut-off went for softs. As Michael Schumacher and Pastor Maldonado made late jumps up the order, Webber found himself 18th and eliminated.

Jenson Button emerged as Vettel's closest rival, but even the Briton was 0.7s adrift of pole as he beat his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the outside front row position by 0.042s.

Nico Rosberg gave Mercedes its best result of the year so far with fourth place, only 0.2s down on the McLarens. He comfortable beat the Ferraris, which share row three, with Fernando Alonso ahead of Felipe Massa.

The upper midfield pack was shuffled by a late red flag in Q2, caused by Vitaly Petrov's Renault grinding to a halt on track at Turn 6.

That happened with two minutes left on the Q2 clock, at which point both Toro Rossos and both Force Indias were inside the top 10, while the Saubers, Williams, Mercedes and Petrov's team-mate Nick Heidfeld were not.

In the scramble that followed after the green, both STR drivers and Paul di Resta (Force India) hung on to their Q3 places, while Rosberg was the only man to move from outside the cut-off into the top 10, at the expense of Force India's Adrian Sutil.

Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi went on to claim the fourth row positions ahead of di Resta. Forced to sit out Q3, Petrov was left 10th.

A mistake at the hairpin left Michael Schumacher's Mercedes 14th behind Sutil and the Saubers. Heidfeld could not do better than 16th, placing him between the two Williams.

Webber's exit was the only surprise of Q1, which also saw the departure of the Lotus, Virgin and Hispania cars. Jerome D'Ambrosio outqualified Virgin team-mate Timo Glock for the first time, and both Hispanias were comfortably within the 107 per cent margin.

Pos Driver Team Time Gap  1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m33.706s 2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.421s + 0.715 3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.463s + 0.757 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.670s + 0.964 5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.119s + 1.413 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m35.145s + 1.439 7. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.158s + 2.452 8. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.190s + 2.484 9. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.203s + 2.497 10. Vitaly Petrov Renault No time Q3 cut-off time: 1m35.858s Gap ** 11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m35.874s + 1.388 12. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.053s + 1.567 13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.236s + 1.750 14. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m36.457s + 1.971 15. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m36.465s + 1.979 16. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m36.611s + 2.125 17. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m36.956s + 2.470 Q3 cut-off time: 1m36.147s Gap * 18. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.468s + 1.196 19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m37.894s + 2.622 20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m38.318s + 3.046 21. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m39.119s + 3.847 22. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m39.708s + 4.436 23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m40.212s + 4.940 24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m40.445s + 5.173 107% time: 1m41.941s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2
shares
comments
Webber set to qualify with no KERS
Previous article

Webber set to qualify with no KERS

Next article

Petrov laments qualifying issue

Petrov laments qualifying issue
Load comments
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021
The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021