F1 2014 Chinese Grand Prix: Hamilton chases Shanghai victory
PUBLISHED: 22:10 19 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:55 20 April 2014
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton bids for his 25th Formula One career victory in Shanghai on Sunday after qualifying on pole position for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix.
The 29-year-old F1 racer from Hertfordshire will start Sunday’s race in China as favourite after claiming his 34th pole position after a challenging, wet qualifying session.
Hamilton took his third wet weather pole this season after qualifying 0.595 seconds ahead of his closest challenger, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Nico Rosberg qualified fourth fastest for Mercedes at the Shanghai International Circuit but was unable to improve his lap time during his final run in Q3.
Both Silver Arrows drivers ran wet tyres in Q1, then four sets of intermediate tyres for the rest of the qualifying session.
F1 2014 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying
Provisional qualifying result top 12:
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
4 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
6 Felipe Massa (Williams)
7 Valterri Bottas (Willams)
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
9 Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
10 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
11 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
12 Jenson Button (McLaren)
After claiming his eighth pole for the team, and his 34th in Formula One, which is a new record for a British driver and fourth on the all-time list, Hamilton said: “It was a tough session today, but I really enjoyed it.
“It’s definitely the most satisfying feeling to come away with pole position in these wet conditions because the track is so slippery and you need to find the grip to put the lap together.
“The car felt great and the team have done a fantastic job this weekend. Our rivals look closer in the wet conditions, so we’ll be hoping it’s a dry race to take advantage of the position we’re in.”
The 2008 F1 world champion added: “We go into the race with a little bit of an unknown because after I struggled in practice on Friday we made a lot of changes to the car and I haven’t yet had a chance to try them in the dry.
Shanghai International Circuit – the stats you need
* Race distance: 56 laps (305.066km/189.559 miles)
* Start time: 15:00 (local)/07:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 5.451km/3.387 miles
* 2013 winner: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari F138) 56 laps in 1hr36m26.945s (189.778km/h)
* 2013 pole: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes W04) 1m 34.484s (207.692km/h)
* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m32.238s (212.749km/h)
“It felt pretty good in the wet, though, so I’m hopeful that we can convert our pole position into a strong race performance tomorrow.”
Hamilton’s price of winning the Chinese Grand Prix has been shortened ever so slightly from 8/11 to 1/2 with bookiesWilliam Hill after his fine qualifying performance in China.
“Lewis looks unbeatable at the moment and the 1/2 could well have vanished by the time the race starts such is the flood of money that we expect for him to win,” said William Hill spokesman Joe Crilly.
Rosberg will start fourth on the grid behind Hamilton and the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel.
The German Mercedes star said: “I had two main problems today. I wasn’t totally happy with the feeling on the brakes, which resulted in me locking up and going off on my fast lap on the second to last lap.
“Then on my final timed lap, I was half a second quicker going into the last corner, but my time delta on my steering wheel display said that I was two tenths slower.
“So I just took a big risk and spun because I mistakenly thought I had nothing to lose anyway.
“However, fourth place is not a disaster. I was quick on Friday doing the race preparation so I am still confident that there is everything to play for tomorrow.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief Toto Wolff praised Hamilton after his stunning lap in qualifying.
He said: “It was an exceptional performance from Lewis; he was in a league of his own today.
“Nico was very competitive and right there but unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a clean lap on the final run and that’s what cost him in these difficult conditions.
“It shows how competitive it is at this time, as we had the pace to put both cars on the front row.”
Team technical director Paddy Lowe added: “Qualifying is always tricky when we’re running in wet conditions, which meant that it was even more fantastic to see Lewis deliver a great lap to qualify in pole.
“There’s a slight disappointment on Nico’s side because it looked like he had the pace. However, both of his laps in the final run of Q3 were compromised and he was unable to improve his lap time.
“However, overall it was a positive afternoon and a good job from the drivers and the team to get through qualifying safely and in good positions.
“Congratulations to Lewis on becoming the most successful British driver in terms of pole positions; it’s a great achievement.”
It was a tricky day for the McLaren team, with neither Jenson Button nor Kevin Magnussen making it through to Q3 in this afternoon’s qualifying session.
Button finished 12th and Magnussen 15th.