Grand Prix of China – Qualifying

Following his wins in both Australia and Bahrain, VET leads the Drivers’ Championship – he’s 17 points ahead of HAM, with BOT a further 11 points behind.

News:

  • The good news is Ferrari’s mechanic, Francesco Cigarini, who suffered a fracture of the tibia and fibula in his left leg posted to say the surgery went ok, and a follow up video of him on crutches.
  • Ferrari explained why Raikkonen’s pit stop went wrong [racefans.net]
    Basically Ferrari’s pit system checks the wheel nuts are tight, which they were because the rear left wheel hadn’t been removed – the human failures were (a) having the wheelgun set to tighten instead of remove the nuts, and (b) the mechanic didn’t hit the button to show he wasn’t ready; but I think the system failures were (a) not checking the nuts had been removed before checking they were tight, and (b) making the humans react to an error (hit a button to indicate a problem) when they’re under pressure rather than success (job done).

Penalties:

  • McLaren fined in F1’s fifth unsafe release incident of 2018 [racefans.net]

    The team allowed Stoffel Vandoorne’s car onto the track with one of its wheels insufficiently tightened. Vandoorne noticed the problem on-track and stopped his car. The stewards fined McLaren €5,000 for the error.

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: HAM (1:33.999), RAI, BOT, RIC, VER
  2. FP2: HAM (1:33.482), RAI, BOT, VET, VER
  3. FP3: VET (1:33.018), RAI, BOT, VER, HAM
    Overnight rain meant the track was quite green for FP3, but there were also puddles just off track as HAM discovered when he ran a bit wide in Turn 9 and spun.
    RIC had to park his Red Bull when there was a blast of smoke from the engine; he’ll probably end up with a grid penalty for engine component changes.
    VER seemed to have an electrical issue, which VER said felt like Baku last season.
    SAI and HUL have also had some MGUH changes in their Renaults.
    GRO had a brake-by-wire problem in his Haas.

Available tyre compounds are medium, soft and ultrasoft (skipping the supersoft)

It’s cold, misty and overcast; air temperature 12°C; track 15°C; wind 7.7km/h; humidity 78%

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
RIC’s car is still up on the tall stands – will they be able to get him out in Q1? Apparently Renault did have the replacement engine ready so that’s delayed the Red Bull mechanics
Green lights indicate the start of Q1
SIR is first out of the pit lane
Weather radar shows imminent showers
SIR heads back into the pits
LEC 1:35.189
HAR 1:35.072
GAS 1:35.016
RAI 1:32.474 on ultrasofts
(BOT P2)
(HAM P3, 0.35sec slower than his teammate)
VET 1:32.171
Radio from RAI reporting rain
(VER P4, splitting the Mercedes)
RIC getting into his car as the mechanics finish reassembling it
Yellow flags – LEC coasting towards the finish line
Replay shows LEC lost the tail in the final turn but avoided the tyre wall
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are HAR, ERI, STR, LEC, RIC
Red Bull send RIC out of the garage with 3:12 left on the Q1 clock – he should manage 1 timed lap
Top 8 remain in the pits as everyone else heads out for their final runs
A ton of sparks coming of RIC’s car as he pushes it on his quick lap
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are HAR, ERI, STR, LEC, RIC
RIC P13; GAS to P16
HAR P14; SAI to P16
LEC P18
STR P17
ERI P20
GAS P17
HAR P15, relegating SIR
Back of the grid: SIR, GAS, STR, LEC, ERI

Qualifying session 2
Both Mercedes and both Ferraris are going out on soft compound tyres; everyone else is on ultrasofts
BOT 1:32.931
(HAM P2)
RAI 1:32.286
Official FIA timing chart is showing “No Time” for cars as they finish their flying laps 🙁
(VET P2)
(RIC P3)
With HAM down to P6, will he do a run on ultrasofts?
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are: SAI, VAN, HAR but no time yet from GRO, ALO
Chequered flag
HAM 1:31.914 on new softs
ALO P9, relegating PER – that was thanks to a tow on the back straight from VAN
HAR P14
GRO P5, bumping OCO to P16
OCO P10, ALO to P11
BOT P2
PER P9, OCO to P11
SAI P10, MAG to P11
Middle of the grid: MAG, OCO, ALO, VAN, HAR

Qualifying session 3
Top 10 shootout is between HAM, BOT, RAI, VET, HUL, GRO, RIC, VER, PER, SAI
Green lights, and HUL immediately heads for the track
New ultrasofts bolted on for the final qualifying runs
HUL 1:32.602
GRO P2
RAI 1:31.200
VET P2
SAI P5
RIC P3
BOT P3
VER P4
HAM P4
After 1st run: RAI, VET, BOT, HAM, VER, RIC, HUL, GRO, SAI and no time from PER
3mins left; time to head out for the final run
BOT P3
HAM pits!
Chequered flag
GRO P8
RAI 1:31.182
PER P8
VET 1:31.095
RIC P6
VER P5
SAI P9
Front of the grid: VET, RAI, BOT, HAM, VER, RIC, HUL, PER, SAI, GRO

Provisional grid: VET, RAI, BOT, HAM, VER, RIC, HUL, PER, SAI, GRO, MAG, OCO, ALO, VAN, HAR, SIR, GAS, STR, LEC, ERI

VET’s 4th pole position for the GP of China, and the 52nd pole of his F1 career

Front 4 will start the race on soft tyres, with the next 6 on ultras; it’ll be interesting to see what the other half of the field decide to do
The weather forecast for the race says it’ll be warmer – will that help Mercedes?

One Reply to “Grand Prix of China – Qualifying”

  1. ERI penalised five places for ignoring yellow flags in Q1 but he’s already P20. [pitpass]
    He was also given 3 penalty points on his superlicense “moving him up to five points in total for the past 12 months.” [autosport]

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