Hamilton ekes out pole for Chinese Grand Prix

If you’re keeping score at home, Lewis Hamilton has just secured his third straight pole position of the 2015 season by taking the top spot in China on Saturday. In 2014 Hamitlon’s teammate, Nico Rosberg, was the pole position king but so far this year, the German hasn’t been able to answer his 2014 world champion teammate.

With only four hundredths of a second between them, the post-qualifying interview body language of Rosberg said it all—frustration and bewilderment over his plan for 2015. Rosberg had the measure of Hamilton in qualifying performance last year and the game plan was to turn that clear advantage into race wins. Hamilton had other plans.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel secured third for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix but perhaps the sobering news was that he was nearly one second off the pace of Hamilton which is quite a different story from two weeks ago in Malaysia where Ferrari stole a victory.

The question heading into this weekend was centered on Mercedes and their pace. Would China’s cooler temperatures see the Silver Arrows return to their punishingly quick form like they did in the season opener in Australia or had Ferrari made significant gains to take the fight to Mercedes?

Much of that storyline will be answered come Sunday as Ferrari seem to have better tire sympathy and do well on long runs. Can the team turn low tire degradation into a tactical advantage and eke out a win? It will be difficult to find nine tenths of a second per lap but Friday’s Free Practice did show that Hamilton had more degradation on long runs than Vettel.

The duel at Williams left wily veteran Felipe Massa on top slotting fourth for Sunday’s race besting his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who sits fifth. Both Williams drivers managed to get ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen showcasing the struggle the Fin is having during qualifying this season.

If you’re looking for a feel-good story, both Sauber’s and Romain Grosjean’s Lotus made it into Q3 and will follow Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who will start 7th.

Qualifying Results

PosDriverCarTimeGap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m35.782s
2Nico RosbergMercedes1m35.824s0.042s
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1m36.687s0.905s
4Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1m36.954s1.172s
5Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes1m37.143s1.361s
6Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1m37.232s1.450s
7Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault1m37.540s1.758s
8Romain GrosjeanLotus/Mercedes1m37.905s2.123s
9Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1m38.067s2.285s
10Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1m38.158s2.376s
11Pastor MaldonadoLotus/Mercedes1m38.134s
12Daniil KvyatRed Bull/Renault1m38.209s
13Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Renault1m38.393s
14Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault1m38.538s
15Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m39.290s
16Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1m39.216s
17Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda1m39.276s
18Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda1m39.280s
19Will StevensMarussia/Ferrari1m42.091s
20Roberto MerhiMarussia/Ferrari1m42.842s
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Paul KieferJr

So, it turns out that the free practice sessions foreshadowed the quails: Mercs and Ferraris in that order.

Samouri

Nico saying to his crew in a whining tone, ” come on guys ” must have not gone down well with the team.

Junipero Mariano

Lewis Hamilton owned that one! Ferrari didn’t seem really far off during free practice, but qualifying was something else.

jakobusvdl

To me it looked like Mercedes owned it, pretty close1 & 2 with nearly 1 sec on third place then 1.2 to 2.3 on the rest of the top 10. It’s looking like 2014 again, Mercedes 1 & 2 followed by daylight unless Ferrari can come up with a genius race strategy.