Hamilton takes his first ever Mercedes pole

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F1 Grand Prix, GP China, Shanghai International Ciruitcn

Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position since joining Mercedes AMG. He was the fastest man on the soft tyre and ended up ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who will start the race from the front row as well. Fernando Alonso was third fastest.

At the beginning of qualifying, the ambient temperature is 28°C and the mild clouds give the sun the chance to warm up the track surface to 40°C.

The characteristics of the track however cause drivers to attempt just a single lap on the soft tyre, already in Q1, causing no track action in the first half of the session. Jules Bianchi is the first to go out, 9 full minutes after the green light went on at the end of the pitlane. Giedo van der Garde soon followed, along with Nico Rosberg.

With 5 minutes left, Hamilton goes a tenth quicker than Rosberg, posting a 1:35.793. That is about 4 tenths slower than Alonso's lap in FP3, and the main difference is coming from the final sector, where the Ferrari was several tenths faster, either through set-up differences or a different wind direction.

With 3 minutes left, the timetable is finally filling up, with Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari all filling the times just behind both Mercedes cars. This puts both Toro Rosso cars in danger of dropping out, along with Bottas who did not set a time yet.

30 seconds ahead of the chequered flag, Bottas finally puts in his time and slips into 15th place. Half a minute later Vergne improves to 15th as well, with Ricciardo then into 11th. This eventually eliminated Bottas, Gutierrez with the Sauber, Bianchi, Chilton, Pic and Van der Garde.


Q2 kicks off with Sebastian Vettel, but 30 seconds later he is joined by nearly the entire field leaving the pitlane. The German's first lap is 1:36.260, three tenths quicker than what he managed in Q1 and possibly good enough already to make it through to Q3. Webber is 4 tenths slower than his teammate while Paul Di Resta, on brand new soft tyres goes quicker than Mark straight away.

Halfway in the session, the Ferrari cars cross the finish line, with Alonso posting the fastest time, 0.074s quicker than Vettel, and Massa a single tenth slower than Vettel. At the same time Webber stops on track on his way back to the pits, ending his qualifying session. It turns out he had a fuel pressure problem, but if he effectively ran out of fuel, he might face a 5-place grid penalty to make things even worse for him.

Contrary to Q1, many drivers go out one again, except for Hamilton who looked pretty confident of making it through anyway. Alonso posted the second fastest time close to the end of the session, faster than Vettel, Massa, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Button, Grosjean, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. Eliminated in 11th is Di Resta, ahead of Perez, Sutil, Webber, Maldonado and Vergne.

Sebastian Vettel is again the first man on out Q3. This time he's on track on used option tyres, using the same tyres he had on at the end of Q2. The German however drives round the track extremely slowly and returns to the pits at the end of his second lap without setting a time.

2:46 ahead of the end of the session though, Raikkonen is out, followed everyone else, Vettel included. The latter however is on medium tyres, along with Button.

Raikkonen is the first to end his lap, 1:34.761. Hamilton beats it. Alonso, Rosberg and Massa are slower.

Jenson Button meanwhile set a time on his medium tyres, cautiously not wearing out the tyres and virtually starting the race on new medium tyres from 8th place. Sebastian Vettel ran but didn't set a time, although he managed to lock his front right wheel at the end of the long straight.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamQ1Q2Q3Laps
110Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:35.7931:35.0781:34.4849
27Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault1:37.0461:35.6591:34.76111
33Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:36.2531:35.1481:34.78812
49Nico RosbergMercedes AMG1:35.9591:35.5371:34.8619
54Felipe MassaFerrari1:35.9721:35.4031:34.93312
68Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:36.9291:36.0651:35.3649
719Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari1:36.9931:36.2581:35.99815
85Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:36.6671:35.7842:05.67312
91Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:36.5371:35.343-13
1011Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari1:36.9851:36.261-11
1114Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1:37.4781:36.287-9
126Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes1:36.9521:36.314-10
1315Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1:37.3491:36.405-11
142Mark Webber (*)Red Bull Racing-Renault1:36.1481:36.679-6
1516Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1:37.2811:37.139-10
1618Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari1:37.5081:37.199-12
1717Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault1:37.769--3
1812Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:37.990--5
1922Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth1:38.780--6
2023Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth1:39.537--3
2120Charles PicCaterham-Renault1:39.614--6
2221Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault1:39.660--6

* Mark Webber ran out of fuel in Q2 and was subsequently demoted to the back of the grid


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