POLE POSITION in Shanghai last year was taken by Red Bull Racings Sebastian Vettel – who subsequently then went on to win the race, writes John O’Brien.
Looking to replicate this and build on the success of Kuala Lumpur, Vettel and the Red Bull Racing team seemed to be holding strong during free practice, with good results being returned across the three sessions.
Q1 began under hot and sunny conditions, with Lewis Hamilton setting the early pace with a 1m 35.641s, just ahead of Nico Rosberg. Q1 saw the demise of the HRT’s of Bruno Senna and Karun Chandok, both Lotuses as well as the Virgin Racing team. Hamilton’s pace also saw the demise of Vitantonio Liuzzi; who had been struggling with his cars handling all weekend.
Q2 was also taken by Hamilton, who looked set to continue well into the final session, setting a 1m 34.928s. This pace was almost enough to dislodge the Formula One behemoth that is Michael Schumacher, whose 1m 35.715s was only just good enough to guarantee 10th place, dislodging Rubens Barrichello.
The Toro Rosso partnership of Alguersuari and Buemi also failed to continue past Q2, as well as the Renault of Vitaly Petrov, the second Williams-Cosworth of Nico Hulkenberg and the two BMW Sauber-Ferrari’s of Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro De La Rosa.
Q3 saw the ten fastest men of the day take to the track one last time. Hamiltons earlier performances made him a sure fire favourite for pole.
However, in the end, it was the 2009 pole sitter who snatched pole away from his RBR team mate, Mark Webber in a last dash for the line.
The Australians 1m 34.806s looked good for pole having once snatched it from Vettel, but it was the German who triumphed, managing to squeeze in a 1m 34.558s in the final moments of the session.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso piloted his Ferrari to third just ahead of the on form Rosberg, whilst the earlier pace setting McLarens had to be content with fifth and sixth.
Massa, Kubica, Schumacher and the Force India of Adrian Sutil rounded out the top ten.