Hamilton edges Vettel for Chinese GP pole

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP China, Shanghai International Ciruitcn

Having been topped by Ferrari in earlier sessions, Lewis Hamilton pushed the throttle just a little bit harder when it mattered to take pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel will start next of him on the front row while Valtteri Bottas followed up in third.

Just like in final practice, the weather proved pleasant and more or less ideal for qualifying. Drivers and teams appeared to think similarly, as cars were rapidly out on track to set a time.

Sauber's Ericsson and Giovinazzi were first to complete a timed lap, rapidly overhauled by Magnussen.

When the expected front runners emerged out on track, it was interesting to see that Ferrari opted for the soft tyres, while everybody else used the super softs in the first qualifying session. It proved enough for sure, as Ferrari's drivers positioned first and third after just a single flying lap. Lewis Hamilton was second quickest with two timed laps and Bottas 4th, completing 3 timed laps.

Stroll continued to go strong with a 5th best time in the first part of qualifying, ahead of Ricciardo, Massa, Kvyat, Hulkenberg and Alonso.

Max Verstappen was not among the top 10 as he continued to struggle with engine issues. His enigeer repeatedly told him to switch engine modes, but to no avail, leaving the Dutchman unable to progress to Q2, and qualify 19th. That was just a tenth quicker than Ocon, who also appeared to suffer from some technical issue on his pink Force India.

Positions at the back were sealed rapidly as Giovinazzi went off as he was a little eager on the throttle out of the final corner, sending his car into the barrier on the inside of the turn and coming to a halt in the middle of the track. The Italian who still substitutes for Pascal Wehrlein badly damaged the right side of his car, offering some work to his mechanics for the afternoon.

The clean up of debris eventually took a bit longer than expected, delaying Q2 for 15 minutes.

When Q2 finally got underway, Stroll and Raikkonen were the first men out. they, and all who followed used super softs. After Raikkonen passed Stroll on the outlap, the Finn was the first to set a timed lap, but Vettel did better a minute later. Hamilton and Bottas were well in the mix while Ricciardo in 5th was more than a second down on the the four fastest cars.

Fernando Alonso initially surprised to go 11th fastest but following improvements from others dropped to 13th. He failed to make improvements on his final run as well.

Ferrari also strangely opted to go out with both its cars again towards the end of the session. Their times had been sufficient for sure, but the decision was made to go for an additional run to get some more track time following a Friday without any proper running. Vettel managed to improve but lifted on the final straight whereas Raikkonen went all out and improved his previous best by another 3 tenths, going fastest overall in Q2.

In these closing stages, Hulkenberg jumped up to 6th and Perez into 8th, eliminating Sainz and Magnussen, along with Alonso and both Sauber cars.

The final part of qualifying got off with Kvyat and Hamilton first to go out on track. The latter was clearly eager to stamp his foot down and went on to set a blistering 1:31.902, almost 2 tenths quicker than what Sebastian Vettel managed a few minutes later. Valtteri Bottas was 3 tenths down and Raikkonen an additional 2 tenths on his first run.

At the end of the session, all front runners improved, but their relative positions didn't, leaving Hamilton to take his 63th pole position.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:33.3331:32.4061:31.67813
25Sebastian VettelFerrari1:33.0781:32.3911:31.86415
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:33.6841:32.5521:31.86514
47Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:33.3411:32.1811:32.14015
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:34.0411:33.5461:33.03312
619Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:34.2051:33.7591:33.50714
727Nico HulkenbergRenault1:34.4531:33.6361:33.58016
811Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:34.6571:33.9201:33.70615
926Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:34.4401:34.0341:33.71917
1018Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:33.9861:34.0901:34.22018
1155Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:34.5671:34.150-11
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:34.9421:34.164-12
1314Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:34.4991:34.372-11
149Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:34.8921:35.046-15
1536Antonio GiovinazziSauber Ferrari1:34.963--8
162Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:35.023--6
178Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:35.223--6
1830Jolyon PalmerRenault1:35.279--6
1933Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:35.433--7
2031Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:35.496--8