Nico Rosberg will start from pole position for the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver was five tenths quicker than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Rosberg set his time on a second run in Q3, beating Raikkonen’s provisional pole time on a 1m35.402s. Sebastien Vettel only ended up doing one run in order to save his set of Super Soft tyres, however could only manage fourth place when it mattered.
Ricciardo meanwhile surprised coming across the line in second, after setting a time good enough for third fastest provisionally. It looked like Raikkonen lost time in the final sector, which allowed the Red Bull driver to secure their first front row start since Singapore last year.
Wehrlein causes delays as Hamilton runs into ERS problems
The return to 2015 qualifying format was met with early dramas when Pascal Wehrlein spun his Manor on a damp bit of the circuit exiting the final corner. After it rained in the morning bits of the track were still damp, notably the parts on the start/finish straight under the grandstand.
With the dumps coupled with DRS activation, Wehrlein appeared to just lose the Manor as he went across the line to start his lap, spinning into the barrier and breaking his rear suspension. Race Control attempted to dry the circuit which prompted a 20 minute delay, before the session got back up and running.
At this stage it was revealed that Lewis Hamilton was suffering from an ERS problem, and that Mercedes were racing against the clock in order to send him back out. Hamilton managed to complete an out-lap before the team called him back in order to retire the car from the session – meaning he will start from the back of the grid.
In the closing stages of Q1 a battle for survival broke out between Renault and Sauber. Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen managed to improve on their times, which put Marcus Ericsson and Esteban Gutierrez down in the drop zone. Ericsson then responded with a lap good enough for 13th fastest, shoving Magnussen back out along with Gutierrez, Palmer, Haryanto and Hamilton.
Hulkenberg loses a wheel
Nico Hulkenberg has been given a three-place grid drop after losing his front left wheel in the closing stages of Q2. The Force India driver made his way out along with a number of other drivers, who were all looking to improve on their times as the clock ticked down.
That included Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean and both McLaren drivers, who believed that they could show the true pace of their car by potentially getting into the top six. However it was not meant to be, and they went out along with Felipe Massa.
It also meant that the two Toro Rosso’s managed to get through, as did Hulkenberg who now starts in 14th having been given that grid drop. Teammate Sergio Perez starts from seventh, behind Kvyat and Bottas who rounds out the top five.