Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole position with Mercedes in a Chinese Grand Prix qualifying session dominated by tyre strategy.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus will join Hamilton on the front row ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
KR: The gap is quite big still… Not to bad, you rather be in the first place… but we’ll see what we can do…
Lewis: “Making the option tyres last is almost impossible, except for this guy on the right [Kimi]”
Alonso: “I’m definitely expecting an interesting race in which the biggest threat could come from Raikkonen as the Lotus has shown it manages its tyres well.”
Drivers asked about 2013 racing: Kimi: “It makes no difference, because this is what we have and you’d better like it or do something else”
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.484s 2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m34.761s + 0.277 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.788s + 0.304 4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.861s + 0.377 5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.933s + 0.449 6. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m35.364s + 0.880 7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.998s + 1.514 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m05.673s + 31.189 9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault no time 10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari no time Q2 cut-off time: 1m36.261s Gap ** 11. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.287s + 1.209s 12. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m36.314s + 1.236s 13. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.405s + 1.327s 14. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m36.679s + 1.601s 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m37.139s + 2.061s 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m37.199s + 2.121s Q1 cut-off time: 1m37.508s Gap * 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m37.769s + 1.976 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.990s + 2.197 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m38.780s + 2.987 20. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m39.537s + 3.744 21. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m39.614s + 3.821 22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m39.660s + 3.867
News & Quotes: Raikkonen downplays Lotus’s pace
“I knew the gap was quite big still and we don’t have that speed right now. Second is not too bad, it is the best I can gain with the team. I’d rather be in first place, but we didn’t have the speed.
“We’re missing downforce in the middle sector so we will see what we can do tomorrow. We had a very small update, I would say it is the same as in the last race.”
“It seems to be working OK. We have some issues with some stuff, but it’s a similar story to Malaysia. The car works the way I want it to. It has been a pretty tricky weekend to get things exactly right, it’s very sensitive, but we are happy to be where we are now. We believe our strategy is the best one, that is why we did it,” he said. “If qualifying was better on primes, then you would do it.”
Kimi Räikkönen – 2nd: “This is my best qualifying for the team which is good, but of course you always want to be on pole. It’s been quite a tricky weekend so far and we’ve had a few small issues with setup, but it’s always difficult to get things exactly how you want them and the car seems to be working well now. The tyres will of course be the question mark tomorrow; some people are starting on the primes but we chose the strategy we think will work best. Hopefully we can keep managing the degradation well like we have so far this season and have a good race tomorrow.”
Romain Grosjean – 6th: “Friday was difficult and we missed some time on Saturday morning so it’s been a challenging weekend, but I’m finally back in business. We’ve been chasing some small problems here and there, but the engineers have been working hard and did a fantastic job to get the car to where it is now. My first lap on options in Q1 was actually my first of the weekend with those tyres so we had to guess a little on the set up, but I think we did pretty well. Of course you always want to do better, but overall I’m pleased. The car was much better this afternoon so let’s see what we can do in the race.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We’re obviously very happy with the result today. Kimi has been comfortable with his car pretty much all weekend; not so much this morning when a small set up change was made, but that was reversed and he was back where we wanted to be. Romain had a difficult morning but with no real issues; just circumstantial problems which put things on hold briefly. He went into qualifying with a car that was unchanged from this morning, so bearing in mind his earlier tribulations he did a great job to take P6.
“We’ve done all our race preparation and run work so we know where we are in terms of both the soft and the medium compound tyres; we’re pretty confident on strategy and looking forward to running a very strong race. From second and sixth anything is possible; we will certainly be pushing to get both drivers on the podium with one of them on the top step.”