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Qualifying highlights - China 2014 - Wet weather at Shanghai mixes up the grid

Published by Christine

Nico exits a wet pitlane in Shanghai
Credit: Sahara Force India F1 Team

Three out of the four qualifying sessions we've seen so far this year have been wet, with Shanghai delivering a damp Saturday. The choice was between intermediate and wet tyres throughout, with no sign of anyone breaking out the slicks. Pastor Maldonado's struggles carried over from Friday to Saturday, but the rest of the field ran unhindered.

There appeared to be some small chinks in the Mercedes armour today, light at the end of the tunnel for the chasing pack. However, for Ferrari, it was mixed results. For Lotus, a mixed session. Even for Toro Rosso and Force India, their drivers were separated by a good margin.

If you want to relive the session, or catch up on anything you missed, the Factbyte Factbox replay should guide you through all the qualifying action from China.

As it happened: China 2014 - Qualifying

  • 06:30

    Hello there, are you looking for lap by lap info about qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix? Well, you've stumbled across the right place.

  • 06:31

    It's wet in China, with rain hitting final practice earlier. It's not looking so bad as to delay qualifying at the moment, but certainly could mix things up a little.

  • 06:32

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Pitlane watch: still pretty wet on track with 30 minutes to the start of qualifying. This is going to be interesting.

  • 06:34

    Although Mercedes are still faster than the rest, they haven't had things all their own way this weekend so far.

    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1F Alonso1:39.783
    Free Practice 2L Hamilton1:38.315
    Free Practice 3D Ricciardo1:53.958
  • 06:35

    There was limited running in final practice, with the most laps completed by Jules Bianchi - just 14. The damp conditions meant drivers preferring to wait it out in the garage, rather than risk damage that could see a lengthy repair schedule.

  • 06:37

    The talk of the paddock so far this weekend has been the appearance of Ferrari's new team principal, following Stefano Domenicali's resignation this week. Marco Mattiacci has been getting up to speed on Friday, and wearing sunglasses! (It was a slow news day.)

  • 06:38

    Ted News: Pastor Maldonado may not be ready for qualifying. The team have taken the engine from the chassis, after the car developed a sensor problem and stopped out on track in FP3.

  • 06:39

    Pastor has already struggled this weekend, with crashes in both Friday sessions. He also has a five place grid penalty hanging over his head, carried forward from Bahrain.

  • 06:42

    TweetTweet from @CaterhamF1: 20 minutes until Q1 in China. Finishing touches now being applied to both cars and we're all set for what will be a damp/wet session

  • 06:44
    Factbyte Factbox image

    Tyres on offer this weekend are the mediums and softs, white and yellow sidewalls respectively. However, as it is going to be wet in qualifying, the choice will be between full wets and intermediates - blue and green.

  • 06:49

    Last year's pole position was by Lewis Hamilton, with a 1:34.484. He'll want to repeat the feat, and add to his tally so far this year. But there are 21 other cars out there keen to stop him.

    2014 Pole Positions
    1L Hamilton2
    2N Rosberg1
  • 06:54

    Weather icon

    Wind speed2.2mps
  • 06:59

    Drivers are making their final preparations. Alonso gets strapped into the car, as Kvyat is advised what tyres are available. Grosjean awaits the start of the session from the comfort of the cockpit, but there's little to no activity in the next garage along.

  • 06:59

    Waiting at the end of the pit lane, two Marussia cars, eager to get a lap on the board.

  • 07:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 07:01

    Ted News: Maldonado's engine issue wasn't just about a sensor, as they took the car apart there was an oil leak as well, creating a repair that might take a couple of hours.

  • 07:02

    It was Marussia leading the way out the pit lane, but most of the drivers are heading out early to set a banker lap. There's a mixture of wet and intermediate tyres out there, but the balance is with the blue stripes.

  • 07:03

    Replays show Rosberg running wide, and Kobayashi also heading off onto the grass. It's slippery out there.

  • 07:03

    Team radioTeam radio to Ricciardo: "What do you think of the conditions?"

    "I'd probably say extreme for now."

  • 07:04

    Rosberg's radio informs him they are struggling with his telemetry and are running on little data. A bit of rain in the electronics, no doubt.

  • 07:06

    The first lap times are over two minutes, due to the conditions, but they're gradually dropping. Pacesetters Mercedes have posted benchmarks, Rosberg in P1 with a 1:56.351.

  • 07:06

    More replays of drivers running wide, a Marussia disappears off track, whilst Alonso also has his hands full keeping the Ferrari pointing in the right direction.

  • 07:07

    Meanwhile, the view down the long straight shows absolutely nothing, as visibility is very poor. Eventually, a car appears out of the mist and dives into the first corner.

  • 07:08

    Alonso crosses the line for the second fastest time, splitting the two Mercedes. Vettel runs wide on his flying lap, and he still manages the third fastest time.

  • 07:08

    With all drivers now having set a time, the drop zone features Chilton, Gutiérrez, Ericsson, Sutil and Grosjean.

  • 07:09

    Sergio Pérez runs off track at turn six, as we're seeing a lot of (too) wide lines being taken!

  • 07:10

    The two Caterham drivers return to the pit lane, considering their tyre options. Kobayashi rejoins with the intermediate tyres on.

  • 07:10

    The Caterham duo and Jean-Éric Vergne are the drivers who have braved the intermediate tyres, but Vergne is only in 15th, with Caterham in the drop zone.

  • 07:11

    Team radioTeam radio from Kevin Magnussen: "It's not drying up but it's not getting any wetter. Still wet tyre conditions."

  • 07:12

    The Marussia duo disagree, with Bianchi and Chilton taking on the intermediate tyres. Both Sauber drivers do the same.

  • 07:12

    Team radioTeam radio from Grosjean: "I've got no grip on these tyres, shall we go with inters?"

  • 07:14

    So, we have two Mercedes drivers in front of two Red Bulls. Then Alonso and Bottas - something of a surprise as the Williams cars aren't expected to be strong in the wet conditions.

  • 07:14

    In the drop zone, it is Esteban Gutiérrez that sits alongside the backmarker teams. With Maldonado already out, there's only one spot left for a non-Caterham or Marussia driver.

  • 07:15

    Vettel jumps up to P1 with a 1:55.926.

  • 07:16

    Bianchi was on a brilliant lap, a tenth or two up on getting himself out of the bottom six, but he runs massively wide on the final corner, costing him that promotion up the order. He settles for 17th, soon pushed down by Kobayashi.

  • 07:16

    Gutiérrez pulls himself out of the drop zone, dropping Sutil in there. The Sauber car improves to 11th, which pushes Jean-Éric Vergne into the danger area.

  • 07:17
    Grosjean in the garage
    Credit: Lotus_F1Team/Twitter

    Grosjean prepares for the final run in Q1, via @Lotus_F1Team.

  • 07:17

    All 21 cars are out on track, hustling to put in a final flying lap as the times continue to drop.

  • 07:18

    Vergne improves to P16, which puts Gutiérrez right back in the bottom six again.

  • 07:18

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 07:20

    Gutiérrez crossed the line in time to complete another lap, and was up on P16 after the second sector. He runs wide on that final corner again, and fails to improve on his own time.

  • 07:20

    The fastest three in that session were Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hülkenberg and Sebastian Vettel.

  • 07:22
    Out in Q1
    17E GutiérrezSauber
    18K KobayashiCaterham
    19J BianchiMarussia
    20M EricssonCaterham
    21M ChiltonMarussia
  • 07:23

    TweetTweet from @Marussia_F1Team: Tough Q1 for us. Jules P19, a 1:59.3. Max P21, a 2:00.8. Jules a little happier with car after changes since FP3.

  • 07:25

    Gutiérrez is walking down the pit lane - not sure from where or to where - but he doesn't look too happy with the final result.

  • 07:25

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 07:26

    A much quieter start to the second session, no one waiting at the end of the pit lane. Thirty seconds in, and it's Adrian Sutil who heads out first.

  • 07:27

    More drivers head out to get their Q2 challenges underway. It's intermediate tyres all round this time.

  • 07:28

    Reports from Bob Fernley at Force India say that Sergio Pérez thought he hadn't crossed the line in time for another lap during Q1. He started backing off but they encouraged him to keep going. Thankfully for them, he did make it through to Q2.

  • 07:28
    Sutil preparing for Q2
    Credit: OfficialSF1Team/Twitter

    @OfficialSF1Team: Checking data before heading out for Q2

  • 07:29

    All 16 drivers are out on track now, and all 16 of them have the green-striped inters on.

  • 07:30

    Fernando Alonso is on his first hot lap of the session, rounding the corner at the end of the back straight, and swinging round the final corner to set a 1:55.8. Rosberg has already crossed the line for a 1:55.6, however.

  • 07:31

    Hamilton jumps up to P1, lowering the benchmark by more than a second, posting a 1:54.2!

  • 07:33

    Grosjean loses the back end a little but catches it and recovers. He can't improve on his first flying lap, however, he's still sitting in sixth.

  • 07:33

    Replays show Sergio Pérez has a huge off-track moment, taking an extra wide line through the corner. Alonso also has some tyres off track, as the drivers struggle on the slippery white lines.

  • 07:34

    At the top, Rosberg has been improving to try and catch up to his teammate, but Vettel has split the Mercedes pair, with a 1:54.8.

  • 07:36

    Räikkönen runs wide off track, really struggling to keep control of the Ferrari so far today. He dives into the pit lane, along with both McLarens, as the racing pit stops get the drivers ready for their final runs.

  • 07:36

    Williams have been talking down their ability to perform in the wet, but Valtteri Bottas has been up running with the top guys in both sessions so far. He's sitting sixth at the moment, although Felipe Massa is down in 15th.

  • 07:37

    The drop zone currently features Magnussen, Sutil, Vergne, Hülkenberg, Massa and Pérez.

  • 07:38

    Räikkönen looked like he was trying to pass Massa to get some clear space down the back straight, but he had to back off because he couldn't find a space. Massa backed off at the next straight, allowing the Ferrari driver to storm through.

  • 07:39

    Nico Hülkenberg runs massively wide off track, picking up lots of white paint on his tyres. That won't help the grip situation!

  • 07:40

    Hamilton has improved on his own P1 time, as Vettel continues to keep tabs on him where Rosberg cannot.

  • 07:40

    The real battle is for those trying to haul themselves out of the drop zone, however. Massa jumps up to P9, dropping Räikkönen into the bottom six.

  • 07:40

    Both McLarens are also down there, whilst Hülkenberg has improved but is only tenth.

  • 07:40

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 07:40
    Massa pits for inter tyres
    Credit: WilliamsRacing/Twitter

    @WilliamsRacing: Massa pits for new intermediates

  • 07:41

    Sutil crosses the line for P14, so his qualifying is done.

  • 07:41

    Hülkenberg locks up, and goes slightly wide around that last turn. He maintains tenth place without improvement.

  • 07:43

    Alonso's race engineer was encouraging him to do another lap but the Spaniard came into the pit lane. The ongoing radio argument saw Alonso asking about saving tyres for the race tomorrow, and the engineer disregarding the concerns and saying squeeze another lap in if possible. As Alonso pitted, we can see who won that row!

  • 07:43

    Top three in that session: Hamilton, Vettel and Rosberg.

  • 07:44
    Out in Q2
    11K RäikkönenFerrari
    12J ButtonMcLaren
    13D KvyatToro Rosso
    14A SutilSauber
    15K MagnussenMcLaren
    16S PérezForce India
  • 07:44

    Romain Grosjean has impressively managed to get his Lotus into the top ten, and both the Williams cars also beat the odds to make the final session.

  • 07:46
    Qualifying Battle
    FerrariQualified Ahead
    F Alonso3
    K Räikkönen1
  • 07:47

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Fact of the day: in wet conditions, on the intermediate tyre, @ValtteriBottas reached 316kph on the straight @WilliamsRacing #F1

  • 07:48

    Jenson Button wraps up in a waterproof coat, hood up, as he makes his way down the pit lane, qualifying over. He's out qualified teammate Kevin Magnussen today, making it 2-all in their season battle.

  • 07:48

    Vettel exits the garage and lines up at the end of the pit lane to await the green light.

  • 07:48

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 07:50

    Vettel heads out first, but he's joined by seven other cars. Massa waits for only a moment before leaving the pit lane, whilst Grosjean is the last to get his session started.

  • 07:50

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: And as the rain grows stronger, @NicoHulkenberg elects to head out on full wet tyres for his first run in Q3.

  • 07:51

    Rosberg's radio says they're expecting "light rain". They know best, but the onboard and wide angles make it look like it's absolutely hammering it down.

  • 07:52

    Bottas, Vergne, Massa and Hülkenberg have headed out on wet tyres, the rest on the intermediates.

  • 07:52

    Vettel sets the benchmark time, 1:54.981. That's a good start.

  • 07:52

    Rosberg can't beat him, settling in to second place.

  • 07:52

    Alonso is behind them all, slower by more than a second.

  • 07:53

    Hamilton does it though, beating Vettel by six tenths of a second. A 1:54.348.

  • 07:54

    Grosjean attempted one lap, and asked to do another but was told they don't have enough fuel. He returns to the pit lane.

  • 07:54

    Replays show Grosjean ran wide at the very first corner, never really giving himself a chance.

  • 07:57

    Alonso pops in to the pits for a fresh set of intermediate tyres. Vergne follows to switch from full wets to inters.

  • 07:58

    Grosjean has yet to set a time, all his hopes on the one flying lap before the end of the session.

  • 07:59

    Rosberg ran wide at that pesky final turn again, he was looking on a good fast lap but ended up unable to improve. He backs off a little to prepare for another go.

  • 08:00

    Ricciardo jumped up to second place, beating Vettel this time. Hamilton lowers the benchmark yet again, dropping the P1 time to 1:53.860.

  • 08:00

    Grosjean has set a lap time at last, he's ninth to Vergne's tenth.

  • 08:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 08:01

    Vettel has given up the chase, as watch Alonso round the final corner only to be faced with a Mercedes spun across the track!

  • 08:02

    There were no yellow flags, as they avoided contact. Rosberg sent himself into a spin after hitting the kerbs, ruining any chances on that final lap.

  • 08:02

    StopwatchPole position for Lewis Hamilton with a time of 1:53.860.

  • 08:04
    Q3 results
    1L HamiltonMercedes
    2D RicciardoRed Bull
    3S VettelRed Bull
    4N RosbergMercedes
    5F AlonsoFerrari
    6F MassaWilliams
    7V BottasWilliams
    8N HülkenbergForce India
    9JE VergneToro Rosso
    10R GrosjeanLotus
  • 08:05

    It's easy to be smug after a wet qualifying result, but it's just interesting to see a driver take the fight to Vettel.

    Qualifying Battle
    Red BullQualified Ahead
    D Ricciardo3
    S Vettel1
  • 08:05
    Gap Analysis
  • 08:06

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: It's pole for @LewisHamilton! P4 for @nico_rosberg. Incredible! Lewis breaks the record for most pole positions for a British driver ever!!

  • 08:08

    On those final laps, Felipe Massa managed to get ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas, and Jean-Éric Vergne made it ahead of Grosjean, dropping the Lotus driver back to tenth place.

  • 08:12

    It's not expected to be as wet tomorrow, so it could be all change in terms of the running order again. Good to have qualifying mix things up a bit though.

  • 08:15

    QuotePress conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "It’s so slippery out there, trying to find the grip, not making mistakes on your lap, especially when you have these guys pushing you. It was a tough session, I really enjoyed it. The car is feeling great, we always have stuff we can improve on but the team have done a great job this weekend. A good position for the race, hopefully we can pull it through tomorrow."

  • 08:16

    QuotePress conference quotes - Daniel Ricciardo: "I think that was very pleasing to do it at the end. To be honest, I struggled a bit throughout the session. I didn’t feel like I was getting on top of the conditions. The last set of inters at the end of Q3, I managed to get a bit more out of it. Pretty pleased to be on the front row, so yea, a good day."

  • 08:16

    QuotePress conference quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "In wet conditions, we have a bit more of a chance. In dry conditions [Mercedes] are still quite quick and too far away. Let’s see what happens tomorrow, I think the weather forecast is dry. We’re in the best position to try and give them a hard time tomorrow."

  • 08:17

    Maldonado will, of course, require permission from the stewards to be allowed to race. He's likely to get it, considering the number of laps completed in practice - although if they've got any sense, they'll take into account the crashes and spins he's had so far!

  • 08:22

    Lots of fun to follow that session. Mercedes were still dominant, although it seems only one half of them was infallible this time out. Red Bull appear to be closing the gap, and it's interesting to see the inter-team battle there as well.

  • 08:22

    Räikkönen's poor qualifying may make life difficult for him tomorrow, but ahead of him, Grosjean should be pleased with his top ten grid slot, and the two Williams drivers got the most out of a session they were potentially dreading.

  • 08:23

    It all adds up to what should be another cracker of a race tomorrow. I highly recommend you come back and join me for the Chinese Grand Prix, we'll work through it, lap by lap, together. See you then!

All content in the series China 2014