Shanghai: Free Practice 3 & Qualification

Visibility is much improved today, factories chucking out the murky cloud of pollution yesterday were more than likely shut due to the weekend. The weather is much cooler, which could lead to problems regarding keeping the heat in the tyres on these important laps, but could aid in their longevity.

Free Practice 3:

  • Ferrari:  Alonso spends time in the garage altering set-up, but they both go out on softs late in the game.
  • Force India:  Paul di Resta turns 25 today, but rues the lost FP2 session from yesterday, he struggles with grip early on. Sutil finished ahead of di Resta.
  • Hispania:  The only team who didn’t go sub 1:40.
  • Lotus: Both drivers are around a second quicker than Virgin’s efforts.
  • McLaren: The team is using a ‘hybrid’ of upgrades to gain time on the Red Bulls. Button shows his hand over his teammate early on and Hamilton remians behind.
  • Mercedes:  Talk of unlocking the cars potential seems to be coming true for Rosberg who is the lone Merc ahead of Ferrari.
  • Red Bull: Webber’s car still stricken with a dodgy KERS unit, in the pits surrounded with his crew sporting rubber safety gloves. Newey is there making notes as the team adjust steering and brakes. He finishes the practice early (with 1 lap on the hard tyre) as the car has electrical problems. Vettel is trouble-free, but gives his KERS button a little test.
  • Renault:  Heidfeld might have some confidence issues following his off yesterday, but Petrov just misses out on a sub 1:36 time.
  • Sauber:  Returned to a previous exhaust system due to burning being associated with it at the back of the car.
  • Toro-Rosso: Fairly quiet session with Buemi unsurprisingly ahead of teammate Alguersuari
  • Williams: Barrichello is running the only new floor and exhaust the team have brought, Maldonado is using the Aus/Mal spec.
  • Virgin:  D’Ambrosio loses his front wing in the last minute, but the team have confidence in their drivers to get onto the grid.

Top FP3 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:34.968
2 Jenson Button McLaren 1:35.176
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:35.373

Read: Full Results

Qualifying:

This time the focus surrounds Sebastian Vettel and his meteoric start to his first season as a world champion, some are bemoaning his seemingly unstoppable bull run towards his next title. With Webber under attack from his KERS unit, we look towards McLaren, and the resurgent Renault to end his charge.

Again we start with everyone at the top of the hour,and we lose 7 each time before the pole position shoot out in Q3 with the final 10. Unfortunately Eddie Jordan wasn’t in China to brighten the increasingly grey skyline with one of his shirts. Buckle in chaps, this is going to be a bumpy ride…

Q1 does not start well for Webber’s  bid for victory, since the electrical fault was recorded in FP3, his car has been surrounded by at least 12 men since. He goes into qualifying without KERS, whereas teammate Vettel has ‘no issues’. Button, Alguersuari and Hamilton all spend time on pole before Vettel assumes the position half way through. Webber gets a P7 with KERS and on the harder compound, but is instantly under pressure from those coming out on softer rubber. Ferrari use a new set of the options and RBR keep Webber on primes, a decent lap from rookie Maldonado pushed him out of Q1. Rosberg sets the fastest time.

Out in Q1 are: WEB, KOV, TRU, DAM, GLO, LIU and KAR, but all are within the 107% rule.

Q2 is clouded by the shock of Webber’s exit, but once the lights go green all is forgotten and eyes hits the track. McLaren goes out fast, but look set to be beaten by Petrov who gets 4th instead. And in something that could be called ‘doing a Renault’, Petrov’s car stalls and retires to the garage with a gear issue. The ensuing red flag leaves just 2:02 minutes left, putting immense pressure teammate Heidfeld. Traffic stops most from improving their times. But the story of Q2 is that both Toro Rosso’s are in the top 10. Hamilton bags the quickest time.

Out in Q2 are: SUT, PER, KOB, SCH, BAR, HEI, MAL

Q3 sees Petrov sit it out and do no better than P10 . Word from Webber is that they thought they had enough to go through. Di Resta’s car is fine despite sounding a tad ill at the end of Q2. Vettel dominates early and sets the quickest time ever seen in Shanghai, the others are going to have to pull out something very special to beat him. Hamilton does one flying lap to save tyres, but doesn’t do enough to move from 3rd. Rosberg gets a much needed P4 showing that there is pace in his car, Alguersuari gets ahead of Buemi for the first time this season, and di Resta slows but gets a P8 on his 25th birthday. Ferraris posted very similar times, but Alonso just leads Massa.

Top Qualifying times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:33.706
2 Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.421
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:34.463

Read: Full Results

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