Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying

Hamilton was fastest in the final Free Practice session, but he has a 5 grid spot penalty waiting for him after the team changed his McLaren’s gearbox.

Weather is warmer and drier than Friday; air 21°C; track 26°C; humidity 52%

Tyre choices are the soft (yellow banded; option) and medium (white; prime) compounds

SV is still using the older exhaust system whereas MW is using the newer, improved system

Qualifying 1
Pit lane light turns green; everyone remains in their garage
Engines are firing up
PRe is first to leave the pits
PRe 1:38.190
FM 1:37.964
Everyone except SV, MW, MS & NR on track
NH 1:37.945
BS 1:37.851
RG 1:37.521
JB 1:37.165
LH 1:36.763
(KK P2)
MW 1:36.682
10mins left = halfway through Q1; bottom 7 are VP, HK, CP, TG, PRo, NK, NR
(NR P6, relegating JV)
(JB P2)
Incident involving cars 18 & 20 (PM & HK) under investigation – “impeding”
FM on options!
5mins left; bottom 7 are JV, HK, VP, TG, CP, PRo, NK
FM 1:36.556 but the next 8 drivers are on primes
(PRe P2; he’s on options)
RG 1:36.343 (options)
2mins left; bottom 7 are JV, HK, VP, TG, CP, PRo, NK
FA 1:36.292 (options)
SP 1:36.198 (options)
Chequered flag
Back of the grid: JV, HK, VP, TG, CP, PRo, NK; all are within the 107% time.

Qualifying 2
Looks like everyone’s going out on the option (soft) tyres
Incident involving cars 19 & 22 () under investigation – impeding
KK 1:35.962
KR 1:35.921
NR 1:35.725
(MS P2)
5mins left of Q2; bottom 7 are PM, NH, DR, BS, PRe, FM, RG – RG yet to set a time
Radio for LH telling him he needs to find 1sec in each sector
90secs left of Q2; NR, MS & KR sitting in their garages
(FM P10, relegating SP)
Chequered flag; bottom 7 are PM, BS, PRe, SP, NH, DR, TG
(SP P3, moving FM to P11)
MW 1:35.700 … which means JB now P10
(JB P8, pushing SV to P10)
RG finally sets a lap time – P7, bumping FA to P10 and SV down to P11!
SV doesn’t improve on P11 – he’s not going through to Q3! He was on pole here last year
Radio for SV informing him he’s P11; no reply
Middle of the grid: SV, FM, PM, BS, PRe, NH, DR

Qualifying 3
Top 10 shootout between MW, NR, MS, SP, KK, LH*, RG, KR, JB & FA (*Remember LH will have a 5 grid spot penalty)
KR 1:35.898
NR 1:35.121
(MS P2)
(LH P2)
MS asks his engineer for his teammate’s time; 1:35.121; MS replies “not bad” 🙂
3mins left of Q3; only 4 drivers have set a time so far
(MW P5)
2mins left; order is NR, LH, MS, KR, MW; rest have yet to set a time
NR is out of his Mercedes and walking down the pit lane – there’s confidence!
(SP P6)
Chequered flag
(JB P5)
(KK P4)
(FA P9)
No time from RG, so order is NR, LH*, MS, KK, KR, JB, MW, SP, FA, RG … but LH’s gearbox change drops him to P7, making it a Mercedes front row for the race
First time the Mercedes team has been on pole since 1955

Provisional grid: NR, [LH*] MS, KK, KR, JB, MW, LH, SP, FA, RG, SV, FM, PM, BS, PRe, NH, DR, JV, HK, VP, TG, CP, PRo, NK.

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