Hamilton takes 6th pole in China

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix seemed, based upon FP3, like it might be a good session for Ferrari given that Sebastian Vettel had led the final practice session. Was Lewis Hamilton, a half second off the pace, holding back? Is Ferrari taking the fight to Mercedes? Qualifying might answer a few of those questions.

The lingering notion that one can never tell too much from the first race of the season as Melbourne is a street circuit and a bit of an oddity and it’s only in the crucible of a purpose-built racing circuit that the cars start to show their true pace. As such, many suspected that the Australian Grand Prix may have flattered the Ferrari as did their race strategy but the real team to beat was still Mercedes.


Qualifying started in dry weather, for a change, and a 1:32.2 was the race lap record to beat. Could the teams breach that time in Qualifying? While no one is admitting to it, did the FIA actually ban the trick suspensions and is that why Mercedes and Red Bull seem to be closer to Ferrari? Lots of questions.

Sauber and Renault were first out on super soft tire compounds while Ferrari opted for softs. Hamilton’s first attempt was slightly scuttled by Romain Grosjean’s spin on the front straight. This left Vettel at the top of the time sheet on initial runs just .255s over Hamilton.

For McLaren, the ERS system was only abe to deliver for about half of the long back straight and they were 10kph slower in the speed traps than the other cars. Fernando Alonso said he was driving like an animal and could go no faster but it was enough to get to Q2. Things were no better for Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who had a power issue but the team quickly remedied it and he went back out but it didn’t work and max was still in 17th place and out of Q1 due to an engine software issue.

Lance Stroll took his Williams from 16th to 5th ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa with a very smooth, measured lap. The session ended when Antonio Giovinazzi crashed on the last corner scuttling final runs by Grosjean, Palmer, Verstappen and Ocon relegating them to the back of the grid. Oddly, Giovinazzi managed to make it to Q2. It’s difficult to be too harsh with Antonio, he’s had very little time in the car and he was trying to get on the gas early out of the last turn to make up time.

Finally, Palmer and Grosjean were under investigation for not slowing down for yellow flags through the Giovinazzi incident.


Ferrari walked into Q2 having used only one set of soft compound tires. Mercedes used super softs to achieve their times. For the first run in Q2, Ferrari dipped into their super soft compounds and so did Mercedes.

Vettel went to the top of the time sheet with Lewis Hamilton just a fraction slower by one hundredth of a second. Lewis’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas a tenth off Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen two tenths.

Felipe Massa took his super soft shod Williams to sixth just ahead of his teammate Lance Stroll in seventh. Alonso’s McLaren seemed to struggle with ERS issues while the two Toro Rosso’s were faring well in 8th and 9th.

Daniel Ricciardo slotted 5th on his run with Sergio Perez’s Force India was hanging on to 10th with four minutes left.

The final runs saw Toro Rosso, Renault, Haas, Williams, McLaren and Force India take to the track with 2 minutes left. Hulkenberg’s Renault leapt to sixth with Sergio Perez climbing to 8th. Lance Stroll made it to Q3 in 10th leaving Alonso, Carlos Sainz, Kevin Magnussen Marcus Ericsson and Giovinazzi out in Q2. Daniil Kvyat was able to make it to Q3 for Toro Rosso.

Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time of the session and broke the track record with a 1:32.181.


Lewis Hamilton claimed five pole positions in China and was certainly aiming to repeat it in 2017. The two Ferrari’s had other ideas as Vettel claims four poles in China and set out to equal Hamilton on five. Kimi Raikkonen’s last pole was 2008 and that was also the last front row lockout by Ferrari. Hulkenberg’s Q3 attendance was the first time Renault had been there since 2011.

Lewis took provisional pole on the first runs with Vettel second, Bottas third and Raikkonen fourth. Hulkenberg was holding 6th as Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo took 5th. Massa was 7th with Perez and Stroll in the pits.

With three minutes left, the cars came out for their final run although Hulkenberg and Renault chose only one run for the session. Vettel left the garage last with just a little over two minutes to spare.

Lewis set a terrific 1:31.678 securing six pole positions in a row and sixth in China. Vettel came second followed by Bottas and Raikkonen. Vettel’s lap, one thousandth of a second over Bottas.

Daniel Ricciardo settled for fifth with Massa in sixth, Hulkenberg seventh, Perez eighth, Kvyat in ninth and Lance Stroll in tenth.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/F1


1  Lewis Hamilton Mercedes1’31.678 
2  Sebastian Vettel Ferrari1’31.8640.186
3  Valtteri Bottas Mercedes1’31.8650.187
4  Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari1’32.1400.462
5  Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull1’33.0331.355
6  Felipe Massa Williams1’33.5071.829
7  Nico Hulkenberg Renault1’33.5801.902
8  Sergio Perez Force India1’33.7062.028
9  Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso1’33.7192.041
10  Lance Stroll Williams1’34.2202.542
11  Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso1’34.1502.472
12  Kevin Magnussen Haas1’34.1642.486
13  Fernando Alonso McLaren1’34.3722.694
14  Marcus Ericsson Sauber1’35.0463.368
15  Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber  
16  Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren1’35.0233.345
17  Romain Grosjean Haas1’35.2233.545
18  Jolyon Palmer Renault1’35.2793.601
19  Max Verstappen Red Bull1’35.4333.755
20  Esteban Ocon Force India1’35.4963.818

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/F1

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Salvu Borg

As before the second qualifying of the season both Bottas and Ricciardo took their 2nd new CE (control electronics). RoGro and Stoffel both took new turbo’s and MGU-H. ALL those who failed to finish the race in Australia are all on new gearboxes.


Thanks for the p.u update Salvu, any other good tech news?
I hear the FIA have been presenting their alternative driver protection system to the drivers this weekend. A cross between the halo device and RBR’s windscreen, wonder what it will look like.

Salvu Borg

Yes, I read about the FIA having presented to the drivers a new head protection version. According to what I have been following since the last quarter of last year apart from the progress on the ICE performance (output gains) the prime improvement of the top two was aimed at the MGU-H deployment gains. it is being said that FERRARI actually reduced the turbo boost pressure, and in doing so can now deploy through the MGU-H up to 50 seconds of the lap. remember that the permitted harvesting (battery charging) of 2 MJU per lap which is only half the… Read more »

Negative Camber

I haven’t read it but I have to think Sauber will have a gearbox change after Tonio’s crash too.

Salvu Borg

Neither did I read it as yet, but if the Sauber gearbox is replaced it will incur a starting grid penalty. The Australian non finishers (Alonso, Ericsson, GroRo, Magnussen, Ricciardo and Stroll) taking on new gearboxes is penalty free (non-race finishers). Must be added to my previous (JAKO tech information). Although I cannot as yet confirm, it is being said that Kimi took his second ES (battery) and CE (control electronic). Further to 2017 MGU-H (FERRARI), is now able to recover 3.652 KJ a lap against/vs the 2016 version recovering 3.269 KJ a lap. “@MagnetiMarelliIT”. 2017 downforce, across the car… Read more »


Raikkonen used the second CE and ES in Australia, changing them on the Saturday.


On the MGU-H, I didn’t realise how much energy they were recovering.
Am i understanding this correctly? The MGU-H is recovering 1.5 to 2 times more energy per lap than the 2MJ allowed to be recovered by the MGU-K. Does this mean that the MGU-K is able to be used as a motor for much more of the lap than the 33.3 secs that the commentators always mention?

Salvu Borg

JAKO, Good morning from this side, Yes your understanding as regards the MGU-H recovery/deployment is correct, the numbers I quoted are as per “Magneti Marelli it”. BUT. as per the rules the MGU-K can deploy (be used as a motor) at a maximum of 4 MJ (161HP) for a maximum of 33.33 seconds per lap, which means that if it wasn’t for the additional recovery of the MGU-H, if on one lap the MGU-K would have used the full battery (ES) capacity (4MJ) permitted, on the next lap the battery (ES) would have only been possible to have been half… Read more »


Salvu, are those MGU-H figures correct, kJ not MJ? If so that’s nearly a thousand times less than the MGU-K. While it is great that the output is improving, it is a small amount of energy in the grand scheme of things, enough to power the MGU-K for only 0.03 seconds.
I hope you have made a typo, and it should be MegaJoules not kiloJoules.


That was quite an entertaining qualifying, with virtually no running yesterday it was impressive that both Ferrari and Mercedes were able to get on the pace so quickly, and duke it out for the top four spots again – same final order as Australia.
The pace in the midfield is amazingly close again, with Williams, Force India, Renault, Toro Rosso and Haas so close to each other. And at the hands of animal Alonso even the McLappedout is in the mix.
Great work by Stroll, and bad luck for Vianazzi

Van Dieu

Hamilton is incredible at this circuit. I think his win in 2011 was one of his finest drives ever. However, Vettel is looking ominously strong for the race tomorrow. Hamilton/Merc can turn up the wick in Q3 to get the pole, but Vettel getting on the front row (by 1/1000th sec!) could be crucial to the outcome of this race. I do sometimes wonder if Hamilton often compromises his car setup in favour of single lap vs race pace; less wing (and other variable) might be fine when the tyres are fresh and still offering plenty of grip, but the… Read more »


I don’t believe Lewis has ever setup his car, and not for the race win.

Salvu Borg

Interesting to watch.
Watch the Annotated wheel adjustments series.
vimeo com/mark4211.


Great link thanks Salvu. Those drivers are busy, it can’t be easy knowing/remembering what to do at each stage of a lap, and executing those fine adjustments when you’re being jolted around and pushed and pulled by up to 6g of acceleration.
And those are qualification laps, how much heavier does the mental workload get in the first lap when they’re wheel to wheel, managing cold tyres, looking out for gaps, and trying to remember if they locked their apartment door.

Salvu Borg

Go too and watch while waiting for race start. “Hamilton VS Vettel Q3 lap side by side-F1 2017 Chinese GP”.