Chinese GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Three out of four
Lewis Hamilton earned his third pole in four races as he topped qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix. Red Bull teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel gridded second and third, while Nico Rosberg qualified his Mercedes fourth.
The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 67 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Centigrade.)
Marussia teammates Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi were the first out for the 18-minute Q1 session. With the track still very wet from the rain, most of the drivers chose Pirelli's extreme wet tire for their first laps in the session.
It was slippery out there. Nico Rosberg slid off the track at Turn 6 in his Mercedes.
3 minutes into the session, everybody except Pastor Maldonado (Lotus) was out on the track. His car had broken down in FP3 and could not be repaired in time for qualifying.
4 minutes into the session, Bianchi set the first time - 2:04.180 - but that didn't last long as other drivers were crossing the line soon after him. Rosberg popped to the top with a 1:56.351. His teammate Lewis Hamilton moved into second with a 1:57.477.
7 minutes into the session, Fernando Alonso moved his Ferrari into third with a time of 1:57.030, while Hamilton improved to a 1:56.450.
Then Sebastian Vettel slotted his Red Bull into third place with a time of 1:56.596, one spot ahead of his teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
13 minutes into the session, Vettel popped to the top with a 1: 55.926.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Jean-Eric Vergne was 16th and on the bubble of being eliminated after Q1 in his Toro Rosso. And then Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) knocked him off the post.
With 1 minute remaining in the session, Hamilton went quickest - 1:55.516 - as Vergne retook 16th place.
With less than one minute remaining in the session, Vergne jumped up to 11th as Romain Grosjean (Lotus) took 16th place at the expense of Gutierrez.
The top six at the end of Q1 were: Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Vettel, Rosberg, Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and Ricciardo.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Gutierrez, Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham), Bianchi, Marcus Ericsson (Caterham), Chilton and Maldonado.
Adrian Sutil (Sauber) was the first out for Q2.
7 minutes into the session, all 16 drivers were on track, and they were using the intermediate Pirelli rain tires.
5 minutes into the session, Sutil set the first time - 1:58.188 - but Rosberg then crossed the line to post a 1:55.613 and Hamilton beat that with a 1:54.200.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, everybody except Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) was on track as Vettel moved into second place with a time of 1:54.888.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, Kevin Magnussen (McLaren) was in 11th place and therefore on the bubble. Sutil, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa (Williams) and Sergio Perez (Force India) were also out of the top 10.
With less than a minute remaining in the session, Hulkenberg moved up to 10th and Massa to ninth. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) was 11th. Both Raikkonen and Hulkenberg had one more lap to go.
The top 10 at the end of Q2 were: Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso, Bottas, Grosjean, Vergne, Massa and Hulkenberg.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Raikkonen, Jenson Button (McLaren), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso), Sutil, Magnussen and Perez.
Vettel was the first out for the 12-minute Q3. He was on inters as were most of the other drivers.
Light rain was forecast for the rest of the session.
With 8 minutes remaining in the session, Vettel clocked a 1:54.981. Rosberg was next with a 1:55.143.
With 7 minutes remaining in the session, Hamilton topped the charts with a 1:54.348.
With 5 minutes remaining in the session, the top five were: Hamilton, Vettel, Rosberg, Ricciardo and Alonso.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Rosberg was on as flier as was Ricciardo. The latter went to second and took second ahead of Vettel. Rosberg failed to improve his time.
With less than a minute remaining in the session, Rosberg spun coming out of the final corner.
The top 10 qualifiers at the end of Q3 were: Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel, Rosberg, Alonso, Massa, Bottas, Hulkenberg, Vergne and Grosjean.