Chinese GP: Vettel Best In Practice And Qualifying, Grabs Pole
World No. 1 Sebastian Vettel hat-tricked the Chinese practices and won the qualifying to set Sunday’s pole position. The German came one second and a half faster than Alonso who will start the race on fifth position.
The qualifying round followed the same configuration the third free practice had provided. Former champion Jenson Button came second, while his team-mate Lewis Hamilton third, the McLaren drivers being now the last favorites for the podium. Even more than that, Button is approaching his second podium of the season, the Briton having finished second in Malaysia last weekend.
Button had a 0,715 gap, while Hamilton was 0,757 seconds slower than the German leader. Nico Rosberg, who came third in Sepang had a 0,964 second-gap and will start the Sunday race on fourth position which could bring him a second podium place. As for Ferrari, things are going from bad to worse as neither Alonso, nor Felipe Massa was able to make a good figure.
The Spaniard will start the race on fifth position, just like in Malaysia where he arrived sixth. Alnso had a 1,413 seconds gap, while the Brazilian came right behind him and 1,439 seconds behind Vettel. Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari has provided one of the big surprises, coming seventh with a 2,452 seconds gap. Paul di Resta has made himself a birthday present, coming eighth with a 2,484 seconds gap. Sebastien Buemi and Renault’s Vitaly Petrov came ninth and tenth with two seconds and a half gap.
Adrian Sutil of Force India came 11th, 2,168 seconds behind the leader, while Sauber’s Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi followed him with a 2,347 and 2,530 seconds gap. Former world champion Michael Schumacher came 14th, 2,751 seconds slower than Vettel. Williams’ Rubens Barrichello will start the race on 15th position, having set a 2,759 gap on qualifying. Nick Heidfeld and Pastor Maldonado came behind him with 2,905 and 3,250 seconds gap respectively.
Mark Webber had a disastrous weekend in Shanghai. The Australian came second in the first free practice, tenth in the second one, 15th in the third and 18th in the qualifying. Given this situation, Red Bull could be saved only by Vettel who is almost condemned to win the race in order to maintain the first spot in the standings. He had a 2,762 gap, making his worst race of the season.
Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli will start on 19th and 20th positions due to the four-second gap. Virgin’s Jerome d’Ambrosio and Timo Glock came 21st and 22nd with a five and six-second gap, while Hispania will have their drivers on the last positions. Vitantonio Liuzzi was 6,506 seconds slower than Vettel, while his team-mate had a 6,739-second gap.
Sebastian Vettel will chase his second title in Shanghai after the 2009 one, while Jenson Button has all the chances to defend his title. Lewis Hamilton, winner of the 2008 edition, is also among the favorites. Ferrari last won the Chinese trophy in 2007 through Kimi Raikkonen.11