2011 Chinese GP – Qualifying Results


Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for the Chinese GP tomorrow and if you raised an eyebrow on reading that, you must be new to F1 2011. He hasn’t been beaten in qualifying since Singapore last year. And without the engine failure in Korea, Singapore would’ve been the last time he was beaten in a race. Practice pace indicated that the McLarens could run him close in the fight for pole, and a 1-2 by the Brits in Q2 seemed to underline that. But true to his style, the Q3 specialist pulled out a blinding seven tenths on his first run, with a 1:33.706 lap that was so far beyond everyone else that he was able to abort his second run.

Button and Hamilton line up behind him, and even though on single-lap pace they were 0.7 seconds behind the Red Bull, they will be stronger in the race. Sebastian will need to watch his mirrors very carefully indeed. If there is one man who has a great chance of spoiling Sebastian’s party tomorrow, that is Jenson Button. He was in supreme form at Sepang last week and seems to have an edge over his more fancied team mate Lewis Hamilton. Jenson was far and away the best at managing the tyres in the previous race, and with a P2 slot on the grid, armed with a fully reliable KERS and DRS package, he will be the man to watch out for. Lewis was quick, no denying that, but he seems to be chewing up his tyres far too soon and will need to adapt to the Pirellis quickly. If the degradation levels are similar to the practice sessions, he will be a major factor, if not, Rosberg has an opportunity to repeat his podium performance in China.

A surprise in Q3 was Rosberg beating both Ferraris to 4th place, but it had been a session of ups and downs. Both Toro Rossos comfortably made it through to Q3, and line up a stunning 7th and 9th. Between these two, birthday boy Paul di Resta was the one giving his Force India team a superb present – an 8th place grid slot. Vitaly Petrov, who was very quick in the first two qualifying sessions, retired with a seized transmission just after his flying lap in the second, and will start 10th.

That Renault’s retirement caused a lot of mayhem in the pits as the red flag was brought out with only two minutes to go. It was a disaster for Nick Heidfeld, who was yet to set a time, along with Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil and the two Saubers, who were all on their final runs with optimum tyres. This meant that there was a gigantic queue at the end of the pitlane for the restart and only Rosberg and Massa managed to get a good time in.

The most incredible moment of the session came when the RB7 of Mark Webber, failed to carry him through to Q2, and it was a huge shock to see the Red Bull eliminated along with the perennial backmarkers – the new teams of 2010. The Aussie was already having a horrible weekend with his KERS problems, and with the system switched off for qualifying it meant a reasonable performance deficit to the front. With many drivers improving their lap times using the softer tyre on the final runs, the writing was on the wall. It was very very strange that RBR sent him out on hard tyres at the end, and he could not beat even the Williams rookie Pastor Maldonado. It remains to be seen how much Webber can claw his way back tomorrow.

Meanwhile, his team mate, the sport’s youngest world champion, is proving to be near-invincible this year, and is looking to make it three wins in three races this weekend. And no one is betting against him doing that right now.

Here are the results :

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One Response to “2011 Chinese GP – Qualifying Results”

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