F1 2014 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton claims Shanghai pole position

Lewis Hamilton on track in Shanghai ahead of the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton on track in Shanghai ahead of the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz] - Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton will line up on the front row after claiming pole position in qualifying for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire was fastest in a wet qualifying session at the Shanghai International Circuit this morning (Saturday).

Second on the grid will be Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, who won the Red Bull battle with reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton’s pole is his third this season, breaking the record for the most pole positions by a British driver ever in the process, and Mercedes’ fourth of 2014. The 34th pole of his F1 career moves Hamilton clear of Jim Clark in the record books, and only Michael Schumacher, Senna and Vettel have claimed more.

His Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg will line-up fourth on the starting grid, with Fernando Alonso fifth for Ferrari.

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Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, Jean-Eric Vergne and Romain Grosjean complete the provisional top 10 qualifying results.

Vettel put in an early fast lap on a wet track in Q3 with a timed lap of 1m 54.981s, with Rosberg P2 with a 1m 56.500s.

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However, Hamilton then went purple in the first and third sectors to put his Mercedes on provisional pole with a 1m 54.348s.

As the track started to dry, Hamilton went even faster with a storming time of 1m 53.860s – a full second clear of the pack at that point.

Nico Rosberg looked set to beat Hamilton’s time but had a spin in the last corner and Daniel Ricciardo will line-up second on the grid after improving to a 1m 54.455s.

Hamilton’s opening bid in Q2 of 1m 54.20s put him top of the session timesheets by more than a second.

Vettel improved his lap time to go second, but was still nearly 0.3s slower than Hamilton, with Rosberg third.

Towards the end of Q2 Hamilton went faster still with a lap of 1m 54.029s to comfortably enter the top 10 shootout in P1.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, former world champion Jenson Button and his McLaren colleague Kevin Magnussen were among the Q2 casualties. Sergio Perez also went out, while Lotus made Q3 for the first time in 2014.

Hamilton was fastest on a wet track in Q1 ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastian Vettel.

Sunday’s grand prix takes place just outside Shanghai, China’s industrial and financial capital, and the on-track action is always frenetic thanks to the Shanghai International Circuit’s huge straights, wide run-off areas and notoriously unpredictable weather.

The 5.451km track was built on marshland deemed unsuitable for housing in 2003. To shore up the wallowing wasteland more than 40,000 concrete pillars were inserted into the ground – something that the track’s designers, Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl, described as “a huge undertaking”.

Construction work was completed in time for the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in September 2004.

The clockwise layout contains an eclectic mix of corners, from the 270-degree ever-tightening Turn One to the fast esses in sector two.

The final sector incorporates the longest straight on the F1 calendar, at the end of which lies the best overtaking point on the lap, a second-gear hairpin.

Hamilton has already won twice around the Shanghai International Circuit. The 2008 F1 world champion said: “I’ve had some ups and downs in China. On one side I’ve only finished outside of the podium places twice at this circuit.

“On the other, in my first season in Formula One, I threw away a championship lead here by going into the gravel coming into the pits.

“Generally, though, I’m getting stronger every time I come to this track and it suits my driving style quite well.

“The aim, as always, is to win and if I could make it three in a row this weekend that would be incredible.”

Hamilton’s Silver Arrrows team-mate Rosberg has also taken the chequered flag in Shanghai, winning the Chinese GP in 2012.

He said: “I’ve got good memories from China after taking my first pole position and race win in Formula One at this circuit in 2012.

“The layout seems to suit my driving style, it’s a track I enjoy racing at and I want to be back on that top step of the podium this weekend.”

Overtaking opportunities in Sunday’s race will be rather different to the Bahrain GP at Sakhir last time out.

The drivers only have a given amount of energy to use over the course of a lap and the back straight is very long. As a result, it will be difficult to defend all the way down it.

There are sufficient circumstances around the rest of the lap to allow the drivers to experiment with this, so overtaking won’t necessarily be easy. But it is more than achievable.

Ultimately, it will come down to straight line performance differentials. Intra-team battles will provide scant opportunities to pass as the drivers have the same tools at their disposal. But between different cars this will be prominent.

The race in Bahrain saw teams running in performance order at certain points and this will likely be the case again in Shanghai.

Most passes will be made on the exit of Turn 13 or and subsequent DRS zone into Turn 14. As you would expect, the next best opportunity is into Turn One after the second DRS zone, with another at Turn Six.

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