Rosberg takes pole for all-Mercedes front row in China

By on Saturday, April 14, 2012

© Daimler

Nico Rosberg has secured his maiden pole-position for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix after an absolute scorcher of a lap which saw the German qualify half a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton. With Lewis Hamilton set to take a 5-place grid penalty, it will be a Silver Arrows lock-out on the front row for the first time since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix.

The first session of qualifying started with Ferrari offering no confidence to Felipe Massa, with the team stating they needed a miracle for Massa to progress to Q3. Paul di Resta was the first driver out in Q1, and subsequently set the first timed lap of a 01:38.190 before the top teams emerged with Jenson Button going fastest.

The times then began to tumble as Ferrari became the first team to opt for the soft Pirelli tyre compound, which saw Massa shoot to the top with a 01:36.556. With other midfield teams following Ferrari regarding tyre choice, Grosjean, Alonso and then Perez went fastest as the session came to a close. Jean-Eric Vergne was unfortunate to drop out after Q1, along with the usual suspects of the two Caterham’s, Marussia’s and HRT’s.

As Q2 got underway, the Saubers of Kobayashi and Perez were first out. It was the Sauber of Kobayashi that initially went fastest with a 01:35.962 before the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg showed his hand and set a 01:35.725. The attention then turned to the midfield, and the battle to progress to Q3. With the Ferrari of Felipe Massa expected to drop out after Q2, no-one could have expected the other big name who was to join him as reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel dropped out after qualifying a lowly 11th on the grid. This being the worst qualifying result for Vettel since the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix when the German qualified 16th in the rain at Sao Paulo.

When the qualifying session resumed for Q3, 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen was straight out for Lotus, setting the initial benchmark with a 01:35.989. That was until Nico Rosberg stunned the opposition with a 01:35.121, nearly a second quicker than the Lotus of Raikkonen. Michael Schumacher was unable to match his team-mates time, setting a time half a second off Rosberg’s sensational lap.

Lewis Hamilton was only able to split the two Silver Arrows, also roughly half a second off Rosberg’s time. With Nico Rosberg so confident his time couldn’t be beaten, he was seen wandering off down the pit-lane with his helmet off clearly under the belief pole-position was his.

As the final qualifying period came to a close, the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi went 4th in an equally stunning qualifying effort. With Hamilton yet to take his 5-place grid penalty, Kobayashi will get promoted to 3rd on the grid with Raikkonen alongside him in 4th.

With Mercedes, Sauber and Lotus the three top teams on the grid for tomorrow’s race, the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix is shaping up to be a highly exciting 56-lap race. Can Mercedes convert pole into victory, or can Hamilton or Vettel wade their way through the field and reclaim what would be a stunning victory?

Pos  Driver                Team                 Time       Gap 
 1.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m35.121s
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m35.626s  + 0.505
 3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m35.691s  + 0.570
 4.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m35.784s  + 0.663
 5.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m35.898s  + 0.777
 6.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m36.191s  + 1.070
 7.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m36.290s  + 1.169
 8.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m36.524s  + 1.403
 9.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m36.622s  + 1.501
10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        No time
Q2 cut-off time: 1m35.831s Gap **
11.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m36.031s  + 0.331
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m36.255s  + 0.555
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m36.283s  + 0.583
14.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m36.289s  + 0.589
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m36.317s  + 0.617
16.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m36.745s  + 1.045
17.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m36.956s  + 1.256
Q1 cut-off time: 1m36.933s Gap *
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m37.714s  + 1.516
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m38.463s  + 2.265
20.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m38.677s  + 2.479
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m39.282s  + 3.084
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m39.717s  + 3.519
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m40.411s  + 4.213
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m41.000s  + 4.802

107% time: 1m42.931s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2

If you liked this post then share it with your friends on social media websites. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with the latest F1 news.