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Maiden Pole for Rosberg in China

By Mav | 14 Apr 2012 | 2 Comments | 2,067 views

Nico Rosberg flew to his, and the modern incarnation of Mercedes’, first ever pole in Shanghai with a blistering 1 minute 35.121s. Lewis Hamilton went second fastest, half a second adrift although he aborted his final run on fresh tyres after it was clear he wouldn’t improve his position. That may have been a mistake as his initial time was posted on a scrubbed set of tyres and its those that he’ll now have to start the race on. He also takes a grid penalty in to the race after changing his gearbox, meaning he’ll drop to seventh on the grid. That also means third fastest Michael Schumacher moves up to make it an all Mercedes front row.

On Pole

With Mercedes’ Double DRS cleared by stewards on Thursday, the outfit exploited it to the full on Shanghai’s long straights. However, Nico Rosberg still pulled a perfect lap out of the bag in order to overhaul McLaren, the result of which saw him out of the garage and off to be weighed while his rivals still lapped the track. However, on the form of the first two races where they’ve suffered heavy tyre degradation, it remains to be seen what Mercedes can do with their front-row grid position.
 
Mercedes AMG Petronas
 
Delight
The day’s glory belonged to Mercedes but it may be Sauber who will be happiest as Kamui Kobayashi went an astonishing fourth quickest. On the back of their race form, Sauber may be set to go one better than they did in Malaysia.

Disappointment
Shock of the day was Sebastian Vettel’s failure to get through to Q3. The Red Bull driver had switched to the team’s early pre-season testing exhaust configuration this weekend and must be left questioning the wisdom of that decision as team mate Mark Webber starts the race five places ahead of him.

Disaster
No real disasters but it feels like an opportunity missed for Jenson Button. I suppose half a second behind Hamilton is fairly normal for Button but in this case it sees him start behind the Mercedes’ pair, Kobayashi and Kimi Raikkonen when he would have been thinking about exploiting Hamilton’s grid penalty to the fullest. Instead, only Mark Webber will separate the McLarens.

VGrid_China_2012
 
Race Prediction
There should be plenty of overtaking in China so the final result could bear little relation to the starting grid. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mercedes failed to score points if they suffer from tyre degradation as much as they have in the first two races. Instead, with Kobayashi starting third it’s Sauber, who I have felt have the race pace to win but not the qualifying pace to put them in a position to do so, who could take victory this weekend.
 
Qualifying Lap Times

1. Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.121
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.626
3. Schumacher Mercedes 1:35.691
4. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:35.784
5. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1:35.898
6. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.191
7. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:36.290
8. Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.524
9. Alonso Ferrari 1:36.622
10. Grosjean Lotus-Renault no time set
Q2 cut-off time: 1:35.982
11. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:36.031
12. Massa Ferrari 1:36.255
13. Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:36.283
14. Senna Williams-Renault     1:36.289
15. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:36.317
16. Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes 1:36.745
17. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.956
Q1 cut-off time: 1:36.933
18. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:37.714
19. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:38.463
20. Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:38.677
21. Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.282
22. Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.717
23. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:40.411
24. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:41.000

107% time: 1:42.931

Sector 1   Sector 2   Sector 3  
Raikkonen     25.029 s Rosberg     28.397s Rosberg     41.637s
Rosberg 25.087 s Schumacher 28.474 s Hamilton 41.845 s
Webber 25.125 s Webber 28.539 s Kobayashi 41.904 s

 
What are your predictions for the race? Who will win? Who should have done better in qualifying? Can Kobayashi win tomorrow?

Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas

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2 Comments »

  • saltire

    I would love for Rosberg to get his maiden win but somehow I can’t see it happening. Maybe Kobayashi but he can be a bit reckless. Perez? He’s starting not too far behind and carrying confidence from his last race, he’s also kind on his tyres.

    Before the qualifying session I’d have said it would absolutely be a McLaren win, now I have no clue and that makes the race more exciting.

    Who could have done better? Vettel didn’t do at all well but could he have done better, I don’t think so. I am surprised that Webber has now beaten him in every qualifying session so far.

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  • Mav (author)

    Vettel didn’t do at all well but could he have done better, I don’t think so.

    Putting together his best sector times he was a tenth faster than Alonso, then it would have been him benefiting from Grosjean not contesting Q3.

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