Vettel takes another pole, Button 2nd
Sebastian Vettel has added yet another pole position to his tally after it turned out his first attempt in Q3 was more than enough. He ends more than 7 tenths ahead of Jenson Button. Lewis Hamilton is close behind his teammate in 3rd, while Mark Webber will start only from 18th place.
Qualifying for the Chinese GP kicks off with Sergio Pérez, the young mexican who came away from injury at Malaysia is on the track as the pitlight goes green and chooses to set two flying laps.
5 minutes into the session Perez is on top after most of the back markers have run a lap. Paul Di Resta meanwhile badly locked his front wheels, flat spotting both his front tyres and make this set useless for the race.
Halfway through the session, Vettel is marginally quicker than Button, ahead of Hamilton. All three are on the prime tyres. Jaime Alguersuari is 4th but ran his flying lap on the options which are worth approximately 1 second a lap.
The end of the session turns out to be a thriller with several drivers in trouble ahead of the final minutes. Vitaly Petrov is one of them, but he managed to put in the fastest time of all on the options. A minute later though, as the flag falls, Rosberg goes even quicker while Michael Schumacher in the other Mercedes GP ends up in 5th place.
Mark Webber however didn't take on options for his fastest lap, and ended up 16th and as the session ended he dropped to 18th position, getting knocked out of the session. He will start the race just ahead of Kovalainen and Trulli, D'Ambrosio, Glock, Liuzzi and Karthikeyan. All drivers are within the 107% of the fastest Q1 time.
Q2 gets underway a little more slowly as only 3 men take the track in the first 5 minutes. Just after that however, all except Renault are out. Both Petrov and Heidfeld are not setting any time in the first 10 minutes and calmly sit in their cars, opting to go out for a single flying lap on options towards the end of the session.
Mercedes GP meanwhile found out they won't make it on primes and will change to options after coming up in 10th and 13th on the primes.
With just 3 minutes left on the clock, Petrov comes over the finish line and puts himself on 4th and should be able to go through to Q2. Half a lap later though his car comes to a stand still in the middle of the track. Despite his best efforts, he will therefore not be able to take part into Q3. It appears he came to a halt after turn 4 already and he found himself unable to upshift in the exit of turn 3 and then locked up in the middle of the track.
Ironically, this endangers Nick Heidfeld. The latter was out on an installation lap of what was to be his only flying lap, but Petrov's stoppage red flagged the session with just 2:02 left on the clock.
As soon as the announcement comes of the restart, all but 5 quickly position themselves queuing at the end of the pitlane to ensure track position for their final flying laps. The best lap so far is 1:34.486.
People realise the clock is ticking and overtaking is taking place during the warmup lap. All drivers made it for their final flying lap, with Di Resta having less than a second of margin.
Massa was the first on his flying lap after passing Pérez in the warmup. The final scrummage turned out badly for Heidfeld as he only managed 16th fastest at a time it really mattered. Fernando Alonso quickly realised he'd be easily through, so he went into the pitlane right away. Di Resta did the same and went through to Q3 with a 10th fastest time.
Out of Q2 are therefore Sutil, Pérez, Kobayashi, Schumacher, Barrichello, Heidfeld and Maldonado. Williams have disappointed again, Sauber did a decent qualifying once more and Force India have a car into Q3 for the first time this season. Toro Rosso have even managed to have both their cars into Q3, although their pace quickly shows they are quite a bit behind the top cars.
Button and Vettel kick off the session and are the only ones to use two option sets. Lewis Hamilton for instance may have become a bit more careful with his tyres after suffering difficulties with worn tyres at the Malaysian GP.
The Toro Rossos set their laps in the middle part of the session to avoid traffic, before Alonso starts his flying lap as first of the protagonists.
Alonso's lap is a massive 1.4 seconds slower than Vettels provisional fastest lap. Rosberg goes quicker, and so does Hamilton, but neither manages to threaten Vettel or Button's initial times. Both of them therefore just come in again without completing their flying laps.
|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||-|
|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|
|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|