After qualifying in pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton continued his current form and secured his 6th pole potion in China, and 63rd career pole position. Sebastian Vettel qualified in second place for Ferrari while Hamilton’s team mate, Valtteri Bottas, qualified in third.
Lewis Hamilton Claims 63rd Pole Position in Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying
In the first qualifying session for the Chinese Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel continued where he left off in final practice, setting the fastest lap of the session on the soft compound tyre. Lewis Hamilton followed him through in second lace for Mercedes. Q1 marked the exit of five drivers from qualifying. Through an accident in the final corner in the closing stages of qualifying, Antonio Giovinazzi ruined the Saturday of many, with a number of drivers being on faster laps when Giovinazzi crashed, with the yellow flags being deployed in the final sector, ending their qualifying session. Stoffel Vandoorne was eliminated from 16th place and will start ahead of Romain Grosjean who qualified in 17th place, despite being on a faster final lap. Jolyon Palmer was eliminated in Q1 for the second race weekend in a row, qualifying in 18th place for Renault. The biggest surprise of the session was the elimination of Max Verstappen for Red Bull Racing, with the young Dutchman managing an engine software issue throughout the session. Esteban Ocon rounded out qualifying for Force India and will start in 20th place for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Giovinazzi’s crash can be watched here: [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwtkECSrOPA[/youtube]
With Qualifying 2 being delayed by five minutes due to repairs on the inside barrier of the last turn caused by Giovinazzi’s crash in Q1, Kimi Raikkonen topped the session for Ferrari, breaking the lap record of the circuit. Sebastian Vettel was second fastest while the two Mercedes cars were third and fourth. A further five drivers were eliminated in Q2, meaning that only ten drivers progressed into Qualifying 3. Carlos Sainz Jr was 11th fastest and was eliminated, meaning that he will start just outside of the top ten. Lining up alongside Sainz will be Kevin Magnussen, who qualified in 12th place. Fernando Alonso qualified in 13th place, outperforming his McLaren once again. Marcus Ericsson was the final driver to set a lap and will start in 14th place for the Chinese Grand Prix. Antonio Giovinazzi was also eliminated from the session in 15th place, being unable to set a lap due to the damage on his Sauber caused by his Q1 crash.
In Qualifying 3, the pace that Ferrari set in Q1 and Q2 did not continue, and Mercedes topped their first session of the weekend, with Lewis Hamilton setting the fastest lap of qualifying, meaning that he will start on pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel will start alongside Hamilton for Ferrari in second place. The second row of the grid will be made up of the two Finns on the grid, with Valtteri Bottas qualifying in third place and Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in fourth. Daniel Ricciardo set the fifth fastest lap for Red Bull Racing, and will start alongside Felipe Massa who qualified in sixth place for Williams. Nico Hulkenberg qualified in seventh place for Renault and will start alongside his old team mate, Sergio Perez, who qualified in eighth. Daniil Kvyat qualified in ninth place for Toro Rosso while Lance Stroll rounded out the top ten, qualifying in tenth place in the second Williams.
Hamilton’s pole lap can be watched here: [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx6BbFTNyy0[/youtube]
Through qualifying, a very exciting race is shaping up, with the top four qualifiers being very closely matched in terms of pace. Red Bull Racing and Williams are also looking very evenly matched this weekend, promoting further batting in the field. Alongside the close proximity of the midfield, weather conditions will also play their part in the race, with there being a 90% chance of rain. Unpredictable weather brings unpredictable racing and this is something that we should see in Sunday’s race. The question of who will win is unanswerable, and the Chinese Grand Prix will throw up surprises as well as plenty of drama.
Qualifying Results for the Chinese Grand Prix:
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:31.678
- Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:31.864
- Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:31.865
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:32.140
- Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:33.033
- Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:33.507
- Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:33.580
- Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:33.706
- Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:33.719
- Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:34.220
- Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1:34.150 (Q2)
- Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 1:34.164 (Q2)
- Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:34.372 (Q2)
- Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:35.046 (Q2)
- Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber, No time (Q2)
- Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:35.023 (Q1)
- Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 1:35.223 (Q1)
- Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:35.279 (Q1)
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:35.433 (Q1)
- Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:35.496 (Q1)
*Starting grid for the Chinese Grand Prix may change due to Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean being under investigation for not slowing down under yellow flags and Antonio Giovinazzi potentially needing a new gearbox because of his crash.