F1 2015 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton claims pole position in Shanghai

PUBLISHED: 09:09 11 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:20 11 April 2015

Lewis Hamilton took pole position in qualifying for the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton took pole position in qualifying for the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes-Benz

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position in qualifying for the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Did you know?

Last year’s Chinese GP was stopped at 54 laps, instead of the scheduled 56, after a local dignitary waved the chequered flag too early.

The 30-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire was fastest in Q3 at the Shanghai International Circuit to claim the 41st pole of his F1 career.

Hamilton took provisional pole position with his opening flying lap of 1m 35.782s. Rosberg was second at that point with a time of 1m 36.062s.

Hamilton was unable to improve on his time with his final run, but he still secured pole in China for the third year in a row.

Rosberg will line-up alongside Hamilton as Mercedes achieved a second front-row lockout of 2015.

Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton (centre), Nico Rosberg (left) and Sebastian Vettel (right) after qualfiying for the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton (centre), Nico Rosberg (left) and Sebastian Vettel (right) after qualfiying for the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Nico was just 0.04seconds behind his team-mate after clocking a 1m 35.824s.

Sebastian Vettel will start on the second row in third place for Ferrari after a lap of 1m 36.687s, with Felipe Massa fourth in the provisional qualifying results.

Valtteri Bottas qualified fifth for Williams ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in sixth.

Daniel Ricciardo was seventh for Red Bull and Romain Grosjean eighth in the Lotus.

Sauber pair Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson completed the qualifying top 10 shootout.

After taking his third straight pole of the 2015 season, and fifth in total in Shanghai, Hamilton said: “China continues to be a good place for me; I guess the circuit fits my style more than others and I enjoy driving it.

“Also, you just have to look at the stands with all the banners to see how amazing the support we have here is every year.

“The car felt really good today and the guys back at the factories have done a great job since Malaysia to analyse where we could improve and make a step forward.”

Hamilton added: “The last race wasn’t the tidiest but this weekend we’ve put it all together with no problems so far, so thank you to everyone for that.

“Let’s hope it continues tomorrow [Sunday]. There’s a long race ahead and the Ferraris are very quick once again here, so the job is far from done.”

Hamilton had earlier topped the Q2 timesheets ahead of Silver Arrows colleague Rosberg, with the Ferraris half-a-second down.

The Stevenage-born world champion clocked 1m 36.423s, with Rosberg on a 1m 36.747s.

Shanghai International Circuit

The track:

* First race: 2004.

* Circuit length: 5.451km / 3.387 miles.

* Run to Turn One: 380 metres.

* Longest straight: 1.17km, on the approach to Turn 14.

* Top speed: 326km/h on the approach to Turn 14.

* DRS Zones: Two – the first on the approach to Turn 15, the second on the approach to Turn One.

* Key corner: Turn 14. The slowest corner on the track, this hairpin comes at the end of a huge 1.2km straight, and is the likeliest place from which to launch an overtaking attempt. Both the entry and exit can see some pretty frantic action.

* Pitlane length: 380 metres.

* Major changes for 2015: None.

Vettel was third fastest in Q2 with a lap of 1m 36.957s and Raikkonen was fourth in the other Ferrari with a 1m 37.109s. Felipe Massa was fifth fastest in Q2 for Williams after recording 1m 37.357s.

Both Mercedes drivers ran once in Q1 (prime) and Q2 (option), before two option tyre runs in Q3.

Rosberg eventually qualified just 0.04s behind Lewis. The German driver said: “I’m frustrated with today’s result because four-hundredths of a second is nothing.

“I had a good lap at the end but, in hindsight, it’s always possible to see where you could have found that little bit extra.

2015 Chinese Grand Prix: The race

* Start time: 1400 (local) / 0700 (BST).

* Race distance: 56 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75% distance / 42 laps).

* 2014 winner: Lewis Hamilton.

* 2014 pole position: Lewis Hamilton 1m53.860s 172.348km/h (wet).

* 2014 fastest lap: Nico Rosberg 1m40.402s 195.450km/h.

* Chances of a Safety Car: Medium. There’s a 43 per cent chance of a Safety Car.

* Don’t put the kettle on: Between laps 12-17 and 34-38. The top 15 cars completed last year’s race on a two-stop strategy, with most cars electing to run the soft tyre in the first stint, followed by two stints on the medium compound.

* Weather forecast: After the heat and humidity of Malaysia, Shanghai is going to feel cool. Typically, the ambient temperature is around 18 degrees at this time of year, with a track temperature of around 22 degrees. There’s a high chance of rain because nearly half of the Chinese GPs to date have been affected by wet weather.

“But that’s the situation for me now and I’m still confident for tomorrow.

“I’ve focused on race pace with my set up and I know that tyres will be the decisive factor tomorrow. So I will be aiming to put a lot of pressure on Lewis ahead of me.”

The Silver Arrows team boss praised his drivers after completing a second front-row lockout of the 2015 season.

Toto Wolff said: “That was a brilliantly close qualifying session between our two boys. Nico pulled out a fantastic lap on the final run but Lewis had just done enough with his first set of tyres to take pole by four-hundredths of a second.

“It’s a good situation to be in and confirms what we saw yesterday – namely that we have an advantage over Ferrari on one lap.

“But we also know that the gaps shrink in race conditions and we saw in Malaysia that they could extend their tyre life beyond what we could achieve, so we need to be careful of that tomorrow.”

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport head Wolff added: “We have some new factors to consider in our pre-race thinking compared to two weeks ago, so a successful race will be all about finding the right balance between speed and tyre management.”

The team’s technical director, Paddy Lowe, said: “That was a very dramatic qualifying session, with both of our drivers on the front row and split by just four-hundredths of a second.

“It’s a great result for the team, especially as we brought a number of upgrades this weekend which helped us today, so thank you to everybody back at our bases for all the effort they put into delivering that.

“It was great to see Lewis and Nico performing at their best and interesting to note that, behind us, the Williams managed to split the Ferraris today.”

Lowe added: “The other noteworthy fact was that we managed to negotiate Q1 using just one set of prime tyres, which was not an easy prospect given a performance difference of up to two seconds between the compounds.

“But two very good laps on the prime tyre mean we have saved new options for the race.

“We start tomorrow in a great position but we will need to manage our race well and find the best tyre strategy. Our competitors have strong pace and we will have our work cut out tomorrow.”

It was another disappointing day for the McLaren-Honda team with both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso exiting qualifying in the first phase. They qualified 17th and 18th respectively.

Button’s first Q1 run saw him set a 1m 39.936s lap-time. After boxing for fresh rubber, he improved to a 1m39.276s, set using the Option tyre.

His time was just 0.060s behind 16th position, and two-tenths short of making it into Q2.

The 2009 world champion said: “I guess we hoped we might be just a bit closer than we were today; in practice, we’d looked a bit more competitive, certainly.

“We’d found a reasonably good balance with the car, in fact, but the lap-time isn’t quite there yet.

“In addition, the cars in front of us seemed to make a big leap forward this afternoon – whereas we didn’t – so we’ll need to find out why that was.

“So, overall, we’ve made some improvements this weekend, but qualifying just didn’t go our way.

“Hopefully, things will be better tomorrow, and we’ll be able to race some of the cars that will start in front of us on the grid.”

Alsono completed a quick installation lap at the start of Q1 to ensure that his car was working following his early departure from third practice with an engine ignition problem.

He then followed up with two runs, both on option tyres, initially setting a 1m 40.327s, then bettering it with a 1m 39.280s. He will start 18th.

The former Ferrari driver said: “We were two tenths away from the mid-pack – and close to getting into Q2 – today.

“We’re getting there, and this is another step forward, but we’re still under-performing, so we need to keep improving.

“Our main priority now is to finish tomorrow’s race; that’ll allow us to learn more about the car and uncover any possible problems.

“Obviously, two DNFs in Malaysia wasn’t an ideal situation for us, so, regardless of the result, we need to make the finish here in China.

“This has been another positive weekend – everyone in the team is excited about the progress we’re making.”

McLaren-Honda racing director Eric Boullier said: “I’d hesitate to use the word ‘disappointing’ to describe this afternoon’s qualifying performance, but I think we’d all hoped for a little more, particularly after looking like we’d made a respectable improvement in all three of this weekend’s practice sessions.

“Fernando’s afternoon was obviously affected by the car failure on his out-lap in FP3 this morning, but he responded magnificently, and the parity between our drivers today demonstrated exactly why we hired them: because they can get absolutely everything from the car, and leave nothing out on track.

“Additionally, both Fernando and Jenson know how important it will be to finish tomorrow’s race.

“Hopefully, it will give us another opportunity to narrow the gap to the cars in front. In fact, while today’s grid positions of 17th and 18th don’t necessarily reflect it, this weekend does indeed mark another step forward: in Australia we were 2.836s off the best Q1 time; in Malaysia the gap was 2.367s, and here it was 1.774s.

“That gives everyone in the team reason to feel encouraged.”

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