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Qualifying from China // Formula 1 World Championship 2012

Published by Christine

Last year, pole position was Sebastian Vettel's for the taking but the race did not go his way. This year, no one I have talked to predicts Vettel anywhere near pole position or a race victory. This year so far is all about the McLaren team, although Fernando Alonso is the one leading the championship at the moment. It looks like it could be a wet race tomorrow, so qualifying for the Chinese GP is crucial. Who can get that oh-so-important pole position?

As it happened: 2012 China - Qualifying

  • 06:30

    Hello there, good day to you and welcome to the Factbyte Factbox for qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

  • 06:31

    It's been a reasonable break since the action at Malaysia, and the news has been dominated by Bahrain, but it is China that takes centre stage this weekend.

  • 06:33

    Earlier this week Lotus protested against Mercedes' rear wing design, but the FIA ruled (as they always have done!) that it's legal. Hopefully, that will be an end to it.

  • 06:34

    If you want to catch up on any of the recent happenings in F1 in sixty second news bulletins, I have just the thing: http://f1minute.com.

  • 06:35

    TweetTweet from @Felipe1Massa: On my way to the circuit !! Let's work !! Positive energy !!

  • 06:35

    That was three hours ago, mind you. He's probably there by now, with just half an hour to go.

  • 06:36

    Ahead of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton already has a five place grid drip penalty as the team have changed his gearbox.

  • 06:36

    A five place grid DROP penalty, that is. I don't know what a drip penalty is but I'm pretty sure Hamilton doesn't have one of those.

  • 06:37

    TweetTweet from @MyCaterhamF1: 25 minutes until Q1. Runplans are sorted, cars are ready and drivers are going through final preparations in their room

  • 06:39

    If you're following the action today, do join the Sidepodcast comments either via the thread https://sidepodcast.com/event/qualifying-china-formula-1-world-championship-2012 or the dashboard https://sidepodcast.com/dashboard

  • 06:39

    I recommend having live timing open, always useful as the sessions get underway: http://www.formula1.com/live_timing/live_timing.html

  • 06:41

    And if you're looking for more live text than just this here FBFB, (can't imagine why you would!), then Autosport Live http://live.autosport.com/commentary.php/id/460 and the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/17700778 have you covered.

  • 06:41

    Yesterday, Lewis Hamilton led a damp FP1, whilst Michael Schumacher was top of the times for FP2.

  • 06:42

    It's looking a bit dank and foggy over the Shanghai International Circuit today, but the forecasts suggest the rain will hold off until tomorrow.

  • 06:42

    In practice earlier today, it was McLaren on top again, with Lewis Hamilton leading Jenson Button to the fastest times.

  • 06:44
    Current Championship Standings
    PosDriverPts
    1Fernando Alonso35
    2Lewis Hamilton30
    3Jenson Button25
    4Mark Webber24
    5Sergio Pérez22
    6Sebastian Vettel18
    7Kimi Räikkönen
    16
    8Bruno Senna8
    9Kamui Kobayashi8
    10Paul di Resta7
  • 06:45

    Timo Glock suffered an accident yesterday where the front wing fell of the Marussia car and spun him off into the barriers. The team said they were investigating what happened but we've heard no conclusions as yet.

  • 06:54

    Interview with Christian Horner: "Both drivers seem settled and happy with the setups they've elected to persue this weekend. It's more of a personal taste thing with the drivers. Hopefully we can take the fight to McLaren this weekend. I think they look very quick, particularly over a single lap. I think today is going to be tough to take the challenge to them, but Sunday is a different matter. Of course, Mercedes can't be ruled out over a single lap either, so it should make for an interesting qualifying."

  • 06:54

    This weekend sees the soft and medium compounds make a return, with the yellow sidewalls indicating the softer compound.

  • 06:56

    Weather

    21°C

    Track26°C
    Humidity53%
    Wind speed1.4mps
  • 07:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 07:00

    The session begins and no one is lining up at the end of the pit lane ready to go. Who will be first out?

  • 07:01

    Engines are firing up, and drivers are being strapped into their cars. Vettel looks particularly focused.

  • 07:01

    Paul di Resta bursts out of the garage to become the first car on track this session. Kovalainen and Massa join him.

  • 07:03

    Pedro in the carPedro de la Rosa gets belted into his car, but he has yet to leave the garage to get his qualifying session underway.

  • 07:03

    Paul di Resta crosses the line to begin his first flying lap, the Force India looks a bit wobbly as he locks up around turn six.

  • 07:04

    De la Rosa has left the garage now, as have most of the other drivers. Just two Red Bull drivers, two Mercedes guys, and Kamui Kobayashi from Sauber remain in the pit lane.

  • 07:04

    The majority of the field are on the medium compound, with the usual suspects opting for the softer tyre - Karthikeyan, Petrov and both Marussia drivers among them.

  • 07:05

    Felipe Massa sets the fastest time so far with a 1:37.964, Di Resta's difficult life saw him with a 1:38.190.

  • 07:05

    Five minutes in and it's just Webber and Schumacher who have yet to leave the garage.

  • 07:07

    The times start pouring in, with Button putting in the benchmark, immediately broken by teammate Hamilton - 1:36.763.

  • 07:07

    Kovalainen returns to the pitlane from 15th place, all others are out on track at this very moment.

  • 07:09

    Sebastian Vettel jumps up to third place, a relatively good performance from the defending champ who has been struggling with his car so far this year.

  • 07:09

    Webber is on his first hot lap now, it looks nice and clean and he does jump to P1 - 1:36.682.

  • 07:12

    Replays show Kamui Kobayashi locking up heavily, smoke pouring from the tyres, and a set of rubber ruined.

  • 07:12

    Tyre smokeTyre smoke from the Sauber.

  • 07:12

    The drop zone currently features Vergne, Kovalainen, Petrov, Glock, Pic, De la Rosa, Karthikeyan.

  • 07:13

    In the pitlane, McLaren wheel Hamilton back into his garage. Neither car is expected to run again this session - they currently sit 2nd and 3rd.

  • 07:13

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: After the first run #Kamui and #Checo in promising positions. Preparing for the second outing in Q1.

  • 07:14

    Race Control: Incident involving Maldonado and Kovalainen is under investigation - impeding.

  • 07:15

    TweetTweet from @mikegascoyne: heikki blocked by Maldenado while on his out lap in the last two corners, Vitaly out on softs

  • 07:15

    The top seven are all in the pit lane now, presumably not to be seen again. Kimi Räikkönen is on a lap now, currently ninth.

  • 07:15

    Felipe Massa takes advantage of the quiet circuit to jump up to P1 - 1:36.556.

  • 07:16

    It was Jean-Éric Vergne who dropped out in the first session of qualifying for Malaysia as well. Will he be 18th for two race weekends in a row?

  • 07:17

    In the pitlane, some mechanics are cooling a very hot Nico Rosberg as the driver casually watches the times.

  • 07:18

    Romain Grosjean pips Massa to the top spot, the times are improving rapidly, and Vettel - who previously was in the top seven is now down in 13th.

  • 07:18

    Less than two minutes to go and Vettel is down to 15th now. Is he looking worried about it? No, cool as a cucumber.

  • 07:19

    Fernando Alonso ran a bit wide at the last corner, he's sitting second with Sergio Pérez in P1. Isn't that how the Malaysian GP should have ended?

  • 07:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 07:20

    The fastest three for this session are Pérez, Alonso and Grosjean.

  • 07:21
    Qualifying Position
    18Jean-Éric VergneToro Rosso
    19Heikki KovalainenCaterham
    20Vitaly PetrovCaterham
    21Timo GlockMarussia
    22Charles PicMarussia
    23
    Pedro de la RosaHRT
    24Narain KarthikeyanHRT
  • 07:22

    The HRT cars are within the 107% time. Cutoff this time was 1:42.931.

  • 07:23

    Qualifying replays show both HRT drivers locking up, running wide and hitting the kerbs. Difficult car, it seems.

  • 07:23

    Meanwhile, a clearly unhappy Vergne is given a reassuring chat by one of the Toro Rosso team before disappearing into the back of the garage.

  • 07:24

    RadioTeam radio to Senna: "I don't know what De la Rosa was thinking on that last lap but good job not letting it bother you."

  • 07:24

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: #Kamui made it through to Q2 comfortably on medium tyres only. @SChecoPerez on soft tyres jumped on P1.

  • 07:25

    Petrov on the weighbridgePetrov has to make a stop at the weighbridge.

  • 07:25

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: 17 cars separated by a second in Q1... How about that for a close session! #F1 #Quali #Shanghai

  • 07:26

    Ricciardo has been chatting with his engineer and is asking for adjustments as when he takes his foot off the brake, he instantly gets understeer.

  • 07:27

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 07:27

    Again, no one is rushing to be the first driver on track, but the engines are roaring.

  • 07:28

    McLaren believe the cutoff time to get into Q3 is 1:35.6.

  • 07:28

    It is Kobayashi who heads out on track first, joined by his teammate and Kimi Räikkönen.

  • 07:29

    So far, all the cars heading out on track have bolted on the soft compound - they're getting competitive out there.

  • 07:30

    Just three minutes in, and all the drivers are out on track bar Romain Grosjean for Lotus.

  • 07:30

    It's looking a little bit darker out there, and the TV pundits have suggested there's a drop of rain in the air. Will we see weather affecting the sessions still to come?

  • 07:31

    The FIA say there's no rain expected during Q2.

  • 07:31

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: Fire up for Felipe, who is ready to go, on Softs as well

  • 07:32

    Kobayashi sets the first time of the session, a 1:35.921. Räikkönen pips him to the top spot.

  • 07:32

    Race Control: Incident involving Senna and De la Rosa under investigation - impeding.

  • 07:33

    Already six minutes have gone, and the times are now pouring in. The Mercedes drivers jump to the top with 1:35.7s.

  • 07:35

    Kobayashi returns to the pitlane and he's pushed back into the garage by the mechanics. They swarm the car to make their final adjustments.

  • 07:35

    All bar Vettel, Webber and Grosjean are in the pit lane now.

  • 07:35

    RadioTeam radio to Button: "We will box this lap, we will have to run again."

  • 07:35

    RadioTeam radio to Hamilton: "The tyres are slower, box this lap."

  • 07:37

    Grosjean did not set a time and has now returned to the pitlane. A problem or just a one lap special for Lotus?

  • 07:38

    Current drop zone features Maldonado, Hülkenberg, Ricciardo, Senna, Di Resta, Massa and, of course, Grosjean.

  • 07:39

    Fernando Alonso crosses the line to start another flying lap, with teammate Massa following him at a respectable distance.

  • 07:39

    Alonso sits tenth currently, with Massa down in 16th.

  • 07:40

    Less than two minutes of this session remaining, and all drivers are out on track bar the two Mercedes in P1 and P2, and Räikkönen, currently P4.

  • 07:41

    Alonso moves up to sixth, and Massa squeezes up to tenth.

  • 07:42

    Paul di Resta is wearing helmet cam this weekend, it is a dizzying sight as he bounces his way around the circuit.

  • 07:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 07:42

    Pérez and Kobayashi have slipped into third and fourth, pushing Massa out of the top ten. The Ferrari is still on a lap though.

  • 07:43

    Webber sits worryingly in tenth, but finishes his flying lap to improve to P1. Less worrying!

  • 07:44

    Not so good news for Vettel though, who was pushed out of the top ten by Grosjean. He had a lap to finish but could not improve on 11th place. He's out of the top ten!

  • 07:44

    Fastest three this session: Webber, Rosberg and Schumacher.

  • 07:45
    Qualifying Position
    11Sebastian VettelRed Bull
    12Felipe MassaFerrari
    13Pastor MaldonadoWilliams
    14Bruno SennaWilliams
    15Paul di RestaForce India
    16
    Nico Hülkenberg
    Force India
    17Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso
  • 07:46

    Amazing how close the top ten are.

    Field Spread
    PosDriverTime
    1stWebber1:35.700
    10thAlonso
    1:35.982
  • 07:46

    TweetTweet from @F1_Prof: That's not what I'm talking about! #Vettel

  • 07:48

    Vettel stalks to the weighbridge, where they are just pushing out a Williams car. Not a happy chap, he studies the times as Massa follows him in. The disappointment in the room!

  • 07:49

    Interview with Kovalainen: "He is under investigation, I'm the good and he's the bad. He basically was getting ready for his first time lap, and I was just completing my first timed lap. On the back straight he was weaving and warming up his tyres... he obviously had no intention of letting me by. It didn't cost us much this time as I completed another lap later on but nevertheless they'll look into it."

  • 07:49

    That's regarding the investigation with Pastor Maldonado. I probably should have given that some context!

  • 07:50

    Rob Smedley studies some data, surrounded by Ferrari mechanics. He looks up smiling - so he, perhaps, is not as disappointed as Massa.

  • 07:50

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 07:50

    Kimi Räikkönen heads out almost immediately, soft tyres on the Lotus.

  • 07:51

    RadioTeam radio to Rosberg: "Looks like it's getting slightly cooler, Nico, so just think about that in your warm up lap. It's only two degrees or so, but it looks like it's getting cooler."

  • 07:51

    Official radar says no rain expected in Q3.

  • 07:52

    McLaren are going for their 150th pole position today - can they do it, and which driver might it be?

  • 07:52

    Rosberg, Räikkönen, Hamilton and Schumacher are out on track at the moment, the rest remaining in the garage at this time.

  • 07:54

    Rosberg pops up over Kimi's initial time, setting a 1:35.121, and Schumacher follows him over the line half a second slower.

  • 07:54

    Last year's pole position was 1:33.706 so we're well away from that.

  • 07:55

    Half the session gone, Webber heads out for his outlap, warming up his tyres for a one lap attempt.

  • 07:56

    Radio between Schumacher and the pit wall has the driver asking what Nico's time was, and reacting slightly in surprise at the answer.

  • 07:57

    Those without a lap time are heading out on track now, all except Romain Grosjean who is likely sitting this session out.

  • 07:58

    Rosberg and Schumacher are the last to leave the pit lane - Schumacher exits, hoping to improve on his third place. Rosberg may not be leaving again.

  • 07:58

    Grosjean has left the garage, I take it back.

  • 07:58

    Nico Rosberg is out of the car, taking off his helmet and heading towards the weighbridge.

  • 07:59

    One minute left to go.

  • 07:59

    Kimi was told to get more temperature on his front tyres on his outlap, as the track has dropped five degrees since Q2 and they're struggling with the rubber.

  • 08:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 08:00

    No one is capable of matching Rosberg's time, the speedy Mercedes has ruined the shootout for pole.

  • 08:01

    Button crosses the line fifth, with Kobayashi jumping up to fourth place. A great qualifying for Sauber!

  • 08:01

    Hamilton slips into second place, but has that five place penalty to take for the race.

  • 08:02

    There are hugs all round in the Mercedes garage as the team get their first pole position. Rosberg also has his first P1, but he's all by himself in the weighbridge area.

  • 08:03

    Nico's pole positionNico celebrates by himself!

  • 08:04
    Qualifying Position
    1Nico RosbergMercedes
    2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren
    3Michael SchumacherMercedes
    4Kamui KobayashiSauber
    5Kimi RäikkönenLotus
    6
    Jenson Button
    McLaren
    7Mark WebberRed Bull
    8Sergio PérezSauber
    9Fernando AlonsoFerrari
    10Romain GrosjeanLotus
  • 08:05

    Nico was only by himself briefly. As each driver heads to get weighed, they all congratulate the new polesitter. He smiles, and there's big hugs from Hamilton, a more reserved reaction from Schumacher.

  • 08:06
    Gap Analysis
    PosDriverGap
    1stROS1:35.121
    2ndHAM+0.505
    3rdMSC+0.570
    4thKOB+0.663
    5thRAI+0.777
  • 08:06

    Half a second up for Rosberg, that's a really impressive lap.

  • 08:06

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: "Incredible lap from Nico. Exceptional second sector" Ross #F1 #Shanghai #Quali

  • 08:08

    Interview with Ross Brawn: "It's a fantastic achievement, but we've obviously got in the back of our mind that we have to put a race together tomorrow. Nico hasn't had a great couple of races, but today we've seen what he can do. Michael's third is very good, and we backed off once we saw we weren't under any threat because Lewis has a penalty."

  • 08:09

    Press Conference Quotes - Nico Rosberg: "Fantastic, thank you. I went really well. It's a very special feeling, definitely. Now looking forward to starting first tomorrow, and starting the race. The track was cooling off, the rear tyres started to work a little bit better. Just got a perfect lap, it worked out really well."

  • 08:10

    Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "Big congratulations to Nico, it's fantastic and really done in style, there's quite a big gap between us. We grew up together, racing together, and now we're on the front row together. Obviously I have a penalty but still, it's a good feeling.

    We're in a good position, I made some good set up changes. It's going to be tough, but I'll be pushing as hard as I can."

  • 08:11

    Press Conference Quotes - Michael Schumacher: "I think for all of us, to see the gap that big is a bit of a surprise. He's known as a good qualifier, no reason to be unhappy. The opposite, happy for him. As we know now it's going to be the first row of Silver Arrows that are going to take place in Shanghai tomorrow.

    My two races, one I retired and one I got put backwards by being spun around. It's not completely clear what we would have seen with our car. It's certainly a question mark, but we will try our best."

  • 08:12

    Press Conference Quotes - Nico Rosberg: "For me, it's the season starting now because the first two races haven't gone so well. Of course, it's pretty clear that in the race we haven't been as good as in qualifying but we've worked very hard to improve that. We're making good progress in the race, that's important. Difficult to know where we're going to be tomorrow, with the conditions changing, if it's a little bit colder that might help us. Going to work hard tonight to get the final details of the setup, and then make the most of it."

  • 08:16
    Qualifying Battle
    SauberQualified Ahead
    Kamui Kobayashi2
    Sergio Pérez1
  • 08:18

    Not yet time for McLaren's 150th pole position then. Hamilton moves back to seventh, with Button moving up to fifth on the grid.

  • 08:19

    Interview with Vettel: "Obviously I'm not happy, but I think I was pretty happy with the laps I had in Q2 but they weren't quick enough. We have to start the race from P11 and see what we can do tomorrow. It makes it a bit harder but not impossible to do a good race.

    "Yesterday, I was happy with the car, that's why we decided to stick with the current settings. I don't want to blame it on the car, three times I did exactly the same lap time."

  • 08:22

    Interview with Kamui Kobayashi: "It was great, team had really great car. I was very happy through the week. P3 is more than enough, we didn't expect that, we want to improve in the qualifying always but we never expect this position. We'll see tomorrow.

    "We want to catch the Mercedes, this is my target. Start is the most dangerous point, I have to watch out on the start. We know we've had good performance if we do everything right. After three races we've got a great result, I'm very happy. We're working very hard, P4 in qualifying, we didn't expect it from the beginning of the season, so I'm very happy."

  • 08:25

    Interview with Jenson Button: "Q2 wasn't that quick but I felt that with a few improvements, we could have been very competitive. Everyone was excited to see how it turned out because the times were so close. We only had one set of tyres in Q3 so we waited... You could just feel the temperature dropping, the best time of the session was at the beginning. But even so, fifth isn't too bad and we can race well from there.

    It's a completely different grid to what we've seen so far. It's going to be an exciting couple of laps, we've got Kamui just in front so that's going to be a lot of fun. You'd say that the Mercedes on the front row - their race pace isn't quite as good as the cars behind them. It's going to be an interesting race in terms of strategy. I think the weather will play a big part, even if it doesn't rain, just for the temperature change. We've just got to hope for a hot day tomorrow."

  • 08:27

    Interview with Fernando Alonso: "It was more or less as we expected. Tough Q2 and we went into Q3 very close with Sebastian. We did the best lap we could, which is 9th. On Sunday, the car normally improves, so tomorrow maybe we'll see a little better performance. It's going to be tough.

    "More variables, the better for us. We're starting ninth, a normal race, you finish nice it is one of the points so better to risk, there is not much to lose. Better a crazy race."

  • 08:29

    A great grid for the third race of the year, and the potential for some rain to mix things up even more. It's going to be a fascinating race, I do hope you'll be watching.

  • 08:29

    Thanks for joining me today, and do pop along tomorrow as the Factbyte Factbox covers all the action from the Chinese Grand Prix.

All content in the series China 2012




Last year, pole position was Sebastian Vettel's for the taking but the race did not go his way. This year, no one I have talked to predicts Vettel anywhere near pole position or a race victory. This year so far is all about the McLaren team, although Fernando Alonso is the one leading the championship at the moment. It looks like it could be a wet race tomorrow, so qualifying for the Chinese GP is crucial. Who can get that oh-so-important pole position?
Getty Images

Event start

07:00GMT +01:00

14 April 2012