Grand Prix of China – Qualifying

We’re back to the 2015 format for Quali, much to (almost) everyone’s relief.
ALO saw the FIA doctor after FP1 and was given the OK to race
HAM has a 5 grid spot penalty awaiting him for a gearbox change.
Air temperature 22°C; track 24°C; dry and windy

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
ROS first out on track, on intermediates
It’s not been declared a wet session, so why is ROS on inters?
There is water across the track at pit out but the rest of the track looks dry
A couple of others went out on inters too but they’re back in the pits to switch to dry tyres
WEH off track, into the barriers on the main straight
Red flags – session suspended with 14:38 on the clock
WEH is out of his car; no sign of marshals
Replay shows he lost the tail on a ribbon of water as he came onto the straight
Marshals finally appear, to push WEH’s car away
HAM had reported a problem losing power, but there doesn’t appear to be anyone working on his car
Marshals don’t seem to be able to work out how to move WEH’s car – clueless!
Now they’ve sent some guys out to sweep the damp bump which caused WEH to spin
Mercedes report they’re still investigating HAM’s power unit issue
Q1 has finally restarted
GUT is first out of the pits; he’s on used supersoft dry tyres
GUT 1:40.262
BUT 1:38.324
Apparently Mercedes still working on HAM’s car
The guys who theoretically dried the track have parked at pit entrance! Idiots!!
ROS 1:37.669
5mins left of Q1; only 10 drivers have set a time so far
HAM is out of the pits but it looks like he still has a problem; he’s heading back to the pits
RAI 1:37.347
VET 1:37.001
2mins left; bottom 6 are PAL, MAG, NAS, HAR plus no time from HAM and WEH
HAM getting out of his car
Chequered flag
NAS to P15, ERI to P17
PAL moves up but only to P17
MAG to P16, relegating GUT
BUT improves from P13 to P4!
ERI jumps to P13, pushing MAG back out of Q2
Back of the grid: MAG, GUT, PAL, HAR, WEH, HAM (assuming WEH and HAM are allowed to race)

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
NAS 1:42.430 on supersoft
ROS 1:36.240 on soft tyres
Ferrari are going on supersoft, same as Red Bull
5mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are GRO, ERI, NAS and no time from VET, RAI, BOT
RAI 1:36.118
2mins left; both Red Bulls look like they’re going out again despite being P4 & P5
HUL off – his left front wheel bouncing down beside the wall – that’ll be a big penalty!
Red flag with 1:17 left on the clock, so Q2 is effectively over
Replay shows wheel working its way off the hub as HUL starts to accelerate
Middle of the grid: MAS, ALO, BUT, GRO, ERI, NAS

Force India mechanics inspecting wheels and hubs on the other car
Incident involving car 27 will be investigated after the race – releasing a car in an unsafe condition

Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
HUL won’t be able to go out in Q3, so the shootout is between RAI, VET, ROS, RIC, KVY, PER, BOT, VES, SAI
Everyone except VET (and HUL) on track
PER 1:37.958 – a little wobble as he crosses the line
ROS 1:36.111
SAI P2
BOT P3
RIC P2
VES P5
KVY P3
RAI 1:35.972
After one run, order is RAI, ROS, RIC, KVY, SAI, BOT, VES, PER and no time from VET or HUL
I’m surprised VET isn’t putting in his one quick lap while everyone else is in the pits
2mins left; everyone heading out
Chequered flag
BOT P3
ROS 1:35.402
RIC P2
PER P5
KVY P5
VES P8
VET P4
SAI P8
RAI P3
Front of the grid: ROS, RIC, RAI, VET, BOT, KVY, PER, SAI, VES, HUL

I’m sure there will be a penalty following HUL’s wheel escape, but I wonder if it will go to the team or the driver or both?

Provisional grid: ROS, RIC, RAI, VET, BOT, KVY, PER, SAI, VES, HUL, MAS, ALO, BUT, GRO, ERI, NAS, MAG, GUT, PAL, HAR, WEH, HAM (assuming WEH and HAM are allowed to race)

Update: “Nico Hulkenberg has been handed a three-place grid drop” [FIA]