Chinese GP: Lewis Hamilton continues Mercedes’ pole run in damp
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton claimed his third pole position of the 2014 Formula 1 season by setting the pace in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.
With qualifying held in wet conditions, initially with most running on wets before the intermediates became the tyre of choice, Hamilton went fastest on his first run in Q3 then improved by almost half a second on his second run to consolidate his position.
It is the 34th pole position of Hamilton’s F1 career, meaning he has broken Jim Clark’s British record, with only Michael Schumacher (68), Ayrton Senna (65) and Sebastian Vettel (45) still ahead of him overall.
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo will start second, setting a time six tenths slower than Hamilton on his final attempt.
This means he outqualifies team-mate Sebastian Vettel for the third time this season, with Vettel third ahead of the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.
Rosberg had looked set to take provisional pole away from Hamilton on his second run, but he carried too much speed into the hairpin, running wide and preventing him from improving.
A spin at the final corner on his final attempt ensured that Rosberg could do no better than fourth.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest having never threatened the top positions during qualifying, with Williams pairing Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas closely matched in sixth and seventh.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg qualified eighth, ahead of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.
Romain Grosjean put a Lotus into Q3 for the first time since 2013, ending up slowest in the top 10 shootout.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren driver Jenson Button were the big-name casualties during Q2.
Both were unable to set a good enough pace on their second set of intermediates to break into the top 10 after being bumped out of it by well-timed improvements by Vergne, Massa, Hulkenberg.
Button, who complained of a lack of front tyre temperature, and Raikkonen both lapped quickly enough in the first two sectors to make Q3 on their final laps, but worsening conditions in the final sector made it impossible to improve overall.
Daniil Kvyat was 13th ahead of Adrian Sutil, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez.
Esteban Gutierrez was the fastest of those to fall in Q1. He had looked set to seal a place in the second stage of qualifying with a late run on intermediates before a very poor final sector, including a wide moment at the final corner, ruined his attempt.
Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi beat Jules Bianchi to 18th, with team-mate Marcus Ericsson outpacing the second Marussia of Max Chilton.
Pastor Maldonado was classified 22nd as he was unable to participate thanks to an engine problem that forced him to stop on track during morning practice.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m53.860s
2. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m54.455s +0.595s
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m54.960s +1.100s
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m55.143s +1.283s
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m55.637s +1.777s
6. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m56.147s +2.287s
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m56.282s +2.422s
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m56.366s +2.506s
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m56.773s +2.913s
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m57.079s +3.219s
Q3 cut-off time: 1m56.847s
11. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m56.860s +2.831s*
12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m56.963s +2.934s*
13. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m57.289s +3.260s*
14. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m57.393s +3.364s*
15. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m57.675s +3.646s*
16. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m58.264s +4.235s*
Q2 cut-off time: 1m58.411s
17. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m58.988s +3.472s**
18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m59.260s +3.744s**
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m59.326s +3.810s**
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2m00.646s +5.130s**
21. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2m00.865s +5.349s**
22. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault
107 per cent time: 2m03.602s
* Gap to 1st in Q2
** Gap to 1st in Q1
Chinese GP: Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo leads damp final practice
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo recorded the fastest time in a wet practice session on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying for the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix.
The Australian driver was quickest in the damp, slippery conditions ahead of the Williams of Felipe Massa.
Rain started to fall at the beginning of the session and intermittently throughout the hour. More rain is expected for qualifying later on Saturday afternoon.
The bad weather meant running was limited, with the Mercedes, Ferrari and McLaren teams sitting out most of the session.
In the late stages, both Nico Rosberg and Kevin Magnussen emerged in the last 10 minutes for a run but did not complete a timed lap.
Romain Grosjean was third quickest in his Lotus, but there were more problems for his team-mate Pastor Maldonado.
Despite setting the sixth fastest time he was ordered by his team to stop his car with 20 minutes of the session remaining and pulled to the side of the track at Turn 10.
Just ahead of Maldonado on the timesheets was Kimi Raikkonen, who emerged from his garage for a late run to set the fifth fastest time overall in his Ferrari.
Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest in his Force India, while Daniil Kvyat was seventh in his Toro Rosso.
Next up was Valtteri Bottas who was one of the drivers who was caught out in the tricky conditions, spinning his Williams on the exit of Turn 10 in the mid-stage of the hour, but able to continue unharmed.
On his installation lap Jean-Eric Vergne was complaining about a problem with his Renault power unit in the back of the Toro Rosso, but managed five laps in total.
Track temperatures were particularly low – 14 degrees C air and 15 degrees on track. Qualifying commences at 2pm local time.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps
1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m53.958s 5
2. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m54.492s +0.534s 5
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m54.514s +0.556s 4
4. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m55.032s +1.074s 6
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m55.062s +1.104s 4
6. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1m55.228s +1.27 s 12
7. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m55.235s +1.277s 7
8. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m55.381s +1.423s 5
9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m55.673s +1.715s 4
10. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m56.019s +2.061s 6
11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m56.233s +2.275s 8
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m56.380s +2.422s 9
13. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m56.760s +2.802s 8
14. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m56.841s +2.883s 13
15. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m57.468s +3.51 s 9
16. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m57.812s +3.854s 12
17. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m57.976s +4.018s 14
18. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m59.507s +5.549s 6
19. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 4
20. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 3
21. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1
22. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 3