F1: MercedseAMG’s Nick Rosberg On The Pole At Shanghai Grand Prix
Nick Rosberg finished half a sec up on Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo keeping the Ferraris off the front row; Kimi Raikkonen was 3rd, less than a tenth of a sec with team mate Sebastian Vettel coming 4th.
Valtteri Bottas took 5th for Williams ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, followed by Force India’s Sergio Perez, the Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen, and the 2nd Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.
After morning rain, many drivers went out on intermediate tires in Q1, though both Manors immediately went out on supersofts. That looked like the right choice, but as he went onto his quick lap Pascal Wehrlein hit a bump on a wet patch on the pit straight, causing his MR05 to snap sideways and careen into the barriers at the left-hand side.
The session was Red Flagged for 22 minutes as debris, principally as Manor’s left-rear wheel was swept away, and attempts were made at eliminating the wet spot.
When the session resumed, Ferrari’s Vettel went fastest on 1m 37.001s on the supersofts, with Raikkonen next on 1m 37.347s from Bottas, McLaren’s Jenson Button, Sainz, Rosberg and Ricciardo.
The big news was Lewis Hamilton.
Mr. Hamilton complained of a down-on-power engine, and as Mercedes confirmed an Energy Recovery System (ERS) problem, he pulled into the pits without setting a time. The world champion will start the race a the back of the pack.
Q2 saw the Ferraris setting the pace again with Mr. Raikkonen on 1m 36.118s to Vettel’s 1m 36.183s. But where they set those times on the supersofts, Mr. Rosberg used softs for his 3rd-fastest 1m 36.240s, a strategic gamble that will allow him to start the race on the more rubber.
The segment ended with more drama when Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India stopped at Turn 10 sans its left-front wheel, an incident that will be investigated by the stewards for a potential unsafe release.
The subsequent Red Flags fell at just the wrong time for Williams’ Felipe Massa, who had to abort his final flying lap and was thus eliminated as Hulkenberg made it through to Q3.
Also eliminated in Q2 were the 2 McLarens, Romain Grosjean’s Haas, and the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.
Moving into Q3, and it was Mr. Rosberg who set the pace on supersofts with 1m 36.111s only for Mr. Raikkonen to reply with 1m 35.972s to confirm Ferrari’s strength.
Mr. Ricciardo came in 3rd with 1m 36.423s, as Mr. Vettel sat in the garage intent on doing just 1 run.
Unless there are any further penalties, the grid will line up like this for the Sunday race: Rosberg, Ricciardo; Raikkonen, Vettel; Bottas, Kvyat; Perez, Sainz; Verstappen, Hulkenberg; Massa, Alonso; Button, Grosjean; Ericsson, Nasr; Magnussen, Gutierrez; Palmer, Haryanto; Wehrlein, Hamilton.
Time 12:30a (Sunday): Formula 1 Series, Chinese Grand Prix, at Shanghai, NBCSN.
Enjoy the racing…