Rosberg takes pole for Chinese GP
Nico Rosberg has secured pole position for Mercedes AMG at Shanghai, ahead of the Chinese GP. Lewis Hamilton posted the second best time, but he will drop 5 places on the grid due to a gearbox change. As a result, Michael Schumacher moves up to second, making an all-Mercedes front row.
Track conditions for qualifying are good. There appears to be some fog, but the track itself is dry while temperatures are 21°C in the air and 25°C on track.
Paul Di Resta is the first to take the track and sets a 1:38.190 on the medium tyres. Just when The Force India driver completes his flying lap, many other drivers join the track, similarly opting for the harder compound for their first runs.
7 minutes later, the silence slowly returns to the track, with Webber by now on top of the timesheet, slightly ahead of Button, Hamilton, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Rosberg and Vettel.
6 minutes from the end, Massa is on track with the softer tyres and one minute later puts himself on top. He failed to impress on the harder tyres, an tyre on which Ferrari is apparently struggling on with these temperatures.
A few minutes before the finish flag for Q1, Pérez sets the best time, just ahead of Alonso and Grosjean. Kimi Raikkonen, on the same soft tyres didn't do better than 12th, although that looks enough to progress through Q2.
Eliminated at the end of Q1 are Vergne, Kovalainen, Petrov, Glock, De La Rosa and Karthikeyan. All drivers have qualified comfortably, with Karthikeyan still nearly 2 seconds faster than the 107% time, set at 1:41.931.
After Pérez topped the first part, Kobayashi kicks off the second part of qualifying for Sauber. Yet again the Swiss team's car appears to be well on form. Alonso follows suit, along with many others. This time everybody seems to have chosen ffor the softer tyre from the go.
It are the Mercedes cars however that emerge on top, with Rosberg going round 0.069s ahead of his teammate. Hamilton is third fastest, Raikkonen 4th, Kobayashi 5th, Vettel 6th and Button 7th. Romain Grosjean made a mistake in turn 13 and came in without setting a time, leaving just one more possibility for an improvement.
Felipe Massa once again looks uncomfortable, setting a 1:37.521 on his first attempt, enough only for 16th. His second run moves him up to 10th, beating Maldonado, Senna ande Di REsta on their second laps as well. Alonso meanwhile also improved, moving up to 6th. The cars ahead of that position chose not to come out again.
At the finish flag, Webber still improves to first, while his teammate is only able to do 11th and is therefore eliminated from Q3. Alonso just made it through, setting a lap that is 0.060s faster than the World Champion's Red Bull.
Eliminated along with Vettel are now Massa, Maldonado, Senna, Di Resta, Hulkenberg and Ricciardo.
McLaren and Mercedes once again made it through comfortably, along with the stunning Sauber cars. Both Lotus cars seem to be doing well yet again, including Grosjean who easily got through to Q3 despite only setting a single timed lap. Webber is the only Red Bull in Q3, while Alonso completes the final 10 minutes of qualifying.
Raikkonen, who seemingly has quite a bit of fans amongst the Chinese spectators, is first to go out. Schumacher, Hamilton and Rosberg quickly do the same, and it is Rosberg of these early runners who emerges on top. He is nearly half a second faster than Hamilton, who himself is closely matched by Schumacher.
Others are waiting a bit longer and are opting for a single outing. Webber is the first of them, starting his flying lap with little more than 3 minutes left on the clock. At that time Alonso and Button also choose to go out for a single run.
Rosberg meanwhile gets out of his car and seems to be satisfied with his lap. Mark Webber is unlikely to be, as his 1:36.290 is slower than Raikkonen, and therefore certainly not on the first two rows on the grid.
Kobayashi posted 4th on his only attempt. Button didn't get higher than 6th while Alonso will start from 9th, just behind Webber and Pérez.
Amazingly, due to Hamilton's 5 place grid penalty, the Chinese GP will see an all Mercedes AMG F1 front row, with Rosberg taking pole position.