Chinese GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Red flags not flying in Shanghai
Lewis Hamilton took a dominant pole position in Shanghai with a lap that was three-tenths of a second faster than the best lap Kimi Raikkonen could muster. Hamilton seemed cool, calm, collected and confident. He made a mistake on his first run in Q3 but he stayed in control of his emotions, went into the pits and came out and nailed it.
"I came here very strong and very determined," he said. "In a good state of mind. The practice has gone very well and qualifying was one of my best. It was as close as I could get to a perfect lap. I am relaxed and happy with the balance of the car. It was touch, for sure, because everyone is very competitive."
Raikkonen seemed more happy and animated than he has been of late but he made it very clear that Ferrari was not doing very well in the course of the Shanghai weekend.
"It has not been the easiest weekend," he said. "We tried many different things and played around with the set-up and it seemed to work pretty well in last qualifying. In Q2 it was fine but it can be a completely different story in Q3. McLaren was very quick. The car was pretty good but we had some issues in certain places this weekend. We have been able to fix them as well as we could."
Judging by Felipe Massa's face the Brazilian was less than happy to be third. Massa is the man who needs to make a big impression on Sunday and that did not look like happening.
"We were struggling a bit throughout the weekend," he said. "We struggled to put everything together. It looks like the McLaren guys have a little bit easier car. We had a similar result at the last race, but we had a very strong pace in the race. I hope to have that. The car was not very good. It was difficult to find the balance. In the corners sometimes there was oversteer sometimes understeer."
Hamilton's hopes of getting some support from his team-mate were dashed when Heikki Kovalainen made a mistake on his final lap and ended up fifth with Fernando Alonso in fourth in his Renault. With Nelson Piquet 10th the team was in a position to pick up some more points in the race.
Mark Webber was sixth fastest in his Red Bull-Renault but an engine failure in the morning session meant that the Australian was facing a 10-place grid penalty. He would start back in 16th. This promoted Nick Heidfeld to sixth in his BMW Sauber and given that Robert Kubica did not make it out of Q2, and would start 11th as a result, this was a good result for the team.
Sebastian Vettel was in seventh in his Toro Rosso, ending a period in which Sebastien Bourdais has been the faster of the two drivers. The times suggested that Bourdais's strategy might involve significantly more fuel than Vettel, as he was 1.2secs off the pace of the German.
Jarno Trulli was eighth and with Timo Glock 12th Toyota was in a solid but dull situation.
Honda looked a little better than was the case in Japan with Rubens Barrichello 13th and Jenson Button 18th.
Williams seemed out of sorts again with Nico Rosberg 14th and Kazuki Nakajima 17th, while the penalty for Webber left the two Red Bulls 15th and 16th: the Australian behind the Scotsman.
At the back was usual were the Force Indias with Adrian Sutil once again ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella, a rather common occurrence these days.