In difficult wet conditions at Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton once again took pole position for Mercedes AMG, trouncing Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel. Nico Rosberg qualified 4th with Fernando Alonso in the leading Ferrari immediately behind in 5th.
Similar to FP3, the track was fully wet at the start of qualifying. Several drivers discussed with their engineers to decide on the tyres to use. The first laps proved it was a difficult decision, but surely the cars shod on full wets were much easier to control.
Every single driver came on track in the first few minutes, attempting to set a time in case more rain arrived. In these early stages, the Mercedes drivers soon emerged on top on their full wet tyres until Alonso positioned his Ferrari second, 5 minutes into the session.
The only one not running is Pastor Maldonado. His car is still not fitted with an engine following a problem discovered during FP3.
With 4 minutes left, Vettel takes charge of Q1, edging out Rosberg by 4 tenths as the track slowly appears to improve. Hamilton in the meantime also moved up to 3rd with Ricciardo thus far setting the 4th time, better than Alonso, Bottas, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Massa and Button. Vettel's lead was however short lived as Hamilton shaved another 4 tenths off that time a minute later.
Even in the final minutes, the full wet turned out to be the fastest tyre, albeit Gutierrez did have an adventurous go on the intermediates at the very end of the session. He slid all over the track and eventually failed to progress through to Q2, a full second slower than his best time on the full wet tyres.
This means Gutierrez is eliminated in 17th place, ahead of Kobayashi, Bianchi, Ericsson, Chilton and of course Maldonado who set no time.
At he start of Q2, everyone decides to use intermediates as the track has dried slightly during the short break following Q1. Again though it are the same drivers who emerge on top in the early stages with the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers mixing it up and with Alonso closely behind.
Towards the end of the session, Grosjean and Bottas were more or less the only ones who managed to improve due to slightly increased rain, resulting in the elimination of Kimi Raikkonen, along with Button, Kvyat, Sutil, Magnussen and Perez. Hulkenberg only just managed to secure a place in Q3 despite struggling to keep his Force India on track.
Q3 is more of the same with further rain and intermediates for most. In the first laps, Hamilton proved fastest, 6 tenths ahead of Vettel and followed by Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso, Massa, Bottas, Hulkenberg and Grosjean. Hulkenberg was the only one to try the full wet on his first lap, but after that attempt he soon changed his mind to go for the intermediate Pirelli.
One minute from the end, Rosberg's second try is insufficient due to several errors in the final few corners. Ricciardo on the other hand did improve and installed himself in second place while Hamilton improved once again and opened the gap to the Red Bull up to a full second.
Vettel also improved but stuck in third. Rosberg tried once more and subsequently spun off in the last corner, emphasizing an essentially failed qualifying for Nico Rosberg who will start behind his teammate and the two Red Bull Racing cars.
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:55.516||1:54.029||1:53.860||21|
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:56.641||1:55.302||1:54.455||23|
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:55.926||1:54.499||1:54.960||23|
|4||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:56.058||1:55.294||1:55.143||22|
|8||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:55.913||1:56.847||1:56.366||23|
|16||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:58.362||1:58.264||-||17|
|DNQ||13||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||No time||-||-||0|