Grand Prix of China – Qualifying

There was just 15 minutes of running in Free Practice 1, and none at all in FP2, due to the rain so Saturday was bound to be interesting. Well, the track was OK but the weather meant the emergency helicopter would not have been able to land at the hospital. The FIA have arranged for the neurological equipment to be moved to a closer hospital, to try to avoid similar weather impeding the race.

Ferrari were fastest in FP3, building on their win in Australia two weeks ago.

GIO is replacing WEH again; there are rumours that it might be due to something other than WEH’s pre-season injury but there’s nothing to support that.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Lights go green for the start of Q1
GIO first out of the pits, followed by ERI and STR
The track is clearly very green after yesterday’s rain
GIO 1:35.437
STR 1:35.136
MAG 1:34.942
HUL 1:34.453
MAS 1:34.205
GRO spins coming out of the final corner
HAM 1:33.333 but there were yellow flags for GRO’s spin
VET 1:33.078 on soft tyres – everyone else (except RAI) on super-soft
Radio from VER – “I hear something wrong with the engine”
VER aborts his lap, dives into the pit lane, and is called to the random weigh bridge check
Radio from ALO – “I push like an animal” but he’s P9 at present
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are STR, OCO, PAL, GRO, VER
Everyone from P7 (KVY) down on track for a final fast run
STR goes P5
Radio for VER talking about engine mapping modes; VER says “same problem”
VER completes a quick lap but only P17
Radio for VER telling him to keep pushing
VAN improves his time but still P16
Chequered flag
GIO pushing to improve on P15; spins coming out of the final turn; into the tyre wall and bounces back into the middle of the track
Double yellows mean no-one can improve on their times
Back of the grid: VAN, GRO, PAL, VER, OCO
So GIO goes through to Q2 but there’s no way the team can fix his car in time for him to run

Start of Q2 delayed for 5 minutes as the marshals continue to clean up GIO’s car and repair the tyre wall
Red Bull confirm VER’s problem was an engine software issue
Incident involving cars 8 (GRO) and 30 (PAL) under investigation – failing to slow for yellow flags

Qualifying session 2
STR exits his garage just as the lights turn green
RAI 1:32.602
VET 1:32.391
(HAM P2 by 0.015 seconds)
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are ALO, HUL, MAG, ERI, GIO
HAM out of his car temporarily
3mins left; everyone from P6 (MAS) down heading out of the pits
VET and RAI heading out too
Chequered flag
HUL P6, relegates PER to P11
MAG P11
PER P8, pushing SAI down to P11
RAI 1:32.181 – that breaks the lap record
Middle of the grid: SAI, MAG, ALO, ERI, GIO

Qualifying session 3
PER and STR sit in the pits as the others head out
HUL 1:33.580
KVY P2
HAM 1:31.902
RIC P2
BOT P2
RAI P3
VET P2 by 0.184 sec
MAS P7
Radio from RAI – not enough grip on the rear
Order so far: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, RIC, HUL, MAS, KVY, PER, STR
HUL is out of his car – not planning on improving on P6
3mins left; starting to head out for a final flying lap
Chequered flag
PER P8
KVY P9
RIC P5
HAM 1:31.678
STR P10
MAS P6
BOT P2
RAI P4
VET P2
Front of the grid: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, RIC, MAS, HUL, PER, KVY, STR

VET taking a long look at the other cars in parc ferme again

Provisional grid: HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, RIC, MAS, HUL, PER, KVY, STR, SAI, MAG, ALO, ERI, GIO, VAN, GRO, PAL, VER, OCO

Potential penalties: cars 8 (GRO) and 30 (PAL) under investigation – failing to slow for yellow flags
Will GIO’s Sauber need a new gearbox after his Q3 crash?

Update: GRO and PAL have each been penalised five places on the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix. “Both were also given three penalty points on their licenses. Palmer now has a total of seven, meaning he is more than halfway towards the twelve needed to receive a one-race ban.” [F1 fanatic]

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