2015: Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying Report

Lewis Hamilton went into qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix as the form man, topping all three practice sessions before hand. Last time out’s race winners Ferrari have once again been the Silver Arrows closest rivals. Hamilton lead team-mate Nico Rosberg in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 3 while Kimi Raikkonen finished second in Free Practice 2.

Q1

Roberto Merhi was first out on track for the start of the session – closely followed by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard broke down on his out-lap in the third and final Free Practice session so was no doubt keen to make up for lost time by getting out early and checking everything was in working order. They were soon joined on track by the Toro Rosso duo and both Ferraris. Merhi set the first flying lap – a 1:44.911 – which was quickly beaten by Raikkonen by four seconds. Hamilton soon went fastest of all, two tenths faster than Rosberg. Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Nasr, Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Raikkonen, Alonso, and Max Verstappen were the top ten after the first runs. The Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa went out with seven minutes left in the session for their first flying laps. Bottas was fastest of anyone with a 1:38.014, two tenths faster than Hamilton although on different tyre compounds. Mercedes were comfortable on the medium tyres while others went out on the soft. Massa slotted into third. Raikkonen then went fastest before being beaten by Vettel. There were a flurry of times at the end of the session which saw a number of drivers move up the order.

  1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:37.502
  2. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.790
  3. Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.014
  4. Romain Grosjean – 1:38.209
  5. Lewis Hamilton – 1:38.285
  6. Max Verstappen – 1:38.387
  7. Felipe Massa – 1:38.433
  8. Nico Rosberg – 1:38.496
  9. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.521
  10. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.534
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.563
  12. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.622
  13. Sergio Perez – 1:38.903
  14. Marcus Ericsson – 1:38.941
  15. Daniil Kvyat – 1:39.051
  16. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:39.216
  17. Jenson Button – 1:39.276
  18. Fernando Alonso – 1:39.280
  19. Will Stevens – 1:42.091
  20. Roberto Merhi – 1:42.842 

Q2

The Sauber drivers were first out on track for the start of Q2. Valtteri Bottas’ first effort saw him go fastest of three drivers before being beaten by Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver once again complained about his seat getting too hot. Another driver suffering a reoccurring issue from practice was Daniil Kvyat who complained about having no power on the straights. In the drop zone with two minutes remaining were Felipe Massa, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Kvyat, and Sergio Perez. Ericsson, Nasr, and Massa improved into the top ten pushing Pastor Maldonado, Max Verstappen, and Carlos Sainz out. That meant both Mercedes, both Ferraris, both Williams’, both Saubers, a Red Bull and a Lotus were going through to the all important pole position shoot-out.

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 1:36.423
  2. Nico Rosberg – 1:36.747
  3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:36.957
  4. Kimi Raikkonen – 1:37.109
  5. Felipe Massa – 1:37.357
  6. Valtteri Bottas – 1:37.763
  7. Daniel Ricciardo – 1:37.939
  8. Felipe Nasr – 1:38.017
  9. Romain Grosjean – 1:38.063
  10. Marcus Ericsson – 1:38.127
  11. Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.134
  12. Daniil Kvyat – 1:38.209
  13. Max Verstappen – 1:38.393
  14. Carlos Sainz – 1:38.538
  15. Sergio Perez – 1:39.290

Q3

The first flying lap of Q3 came from Valtteri Bottas and it was a 1:37.903 but it was quickly smashed by Lewis Hamilton who went over two seconds faster. Nico Rosberg’s time was two tenths slower than his team-mate while Felipe Massa was three tenths further back. Both Ferrari drivers were out on a set of used softs for their first runs – Kimi Raikkonen went fifth with a 1:37.906 while Sebastian Vettel was fourth with a 1:37.776. The Sauber duo of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson waited in the pits before going out for one run. All ten drivers took to the track for the last two minutes with new sets of tyres on their cars. Rosberg was last out of the garage, just behind Vettel, meaning he would be the last driver over the line to set a lap-time. Raikkonen’s lap was a scrappy one with the Finn having to wrestle the car round the corners. He improved to third but had to wait for everyone else to complete their laps. Bottas improved to third on his final flying lap while Hamilton did not improve on his provisional pole time. Massa went ahead of his team-mate while Vettel slotted into third. Rosberg was not able to improve enough ending up just four hundredths of a second behind Hamilton.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:35.782
  2. Nico Rosberg 1:35.824
  3. Sebastian Vettel 1:36.687
  4. Felipe Massa 1:36.954
  5. Valtteri Bottas 1:37.143
  6. Kimi Raikkonen 1:37.232
  7. Daniel Ricciardo 1:37.540
  8. Romain Grosjean 1:37.905
  9. Felipe Nasr 1:38.067
  10. Marcus Ericsson 1:38.158
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