NOTEBOOK – Chinese Qualifying

Features Notebook

Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix from pole position for the sixth time in his career. The former world champion pulled it out of the bag to beat Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by a tenth of a second.

Pole lap

Lewis Hamilton comes across the line heads to the outside gets into eighth gear before turning to the inside breaking un the middle of the corner then goes to the centre before hitting the kerb. Hits outside kerb, before running through to the inside, runs straight through four.

Breaks at 100 metres for six staying on the outside before turning in hits the apex, then runs to the outside opening the throttle up. Goes through the centre of seven then tries to stay left to keep the speed through eight. Little understeer at nine nicely through then nine and ten, then accelerates along the inside.

Breaks 50 metres before twelve, goes to the outside good exit for thirteen. then runs to the outside while opening the car up through the corner, exiting on the outside hits kerb. He keeps the steering wheel as straight as possible before going to the outside breaks at 100 metres turns in and hits the apex.

Runs all the way to the outside re-crosses the track taking as much speed into sixteen runs along the pit side and across the side. doing a 01:31.678.

Strong fort

Lewis Hamilton has always gone well in Shanghai and has only been out-qualified by a team-mate twice. We know from testing and recent history here wasn’t a surprise, he was ahead of Sebastian Vettel. But in Melbourne, he started on pole but the strategy Ferrari used to jump him and eventually going on to win the race will be on their minds.


McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had a strong qualifying and starts thirteenth for tomorrow’s race. This was a surprise for us all as we know Honda have a power deficit and that back straight doesn’t help. With  Alonso and teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne finished 17th and 19th in final practice, seemingly confirming those concerns.

However, Alonso was one of the star performers of Q1, finishing tenth to progress to the next session. He appears to be pessimistic about the race saying “”I was flat out in some of the corners. Sometimes you don’t care anymore if you have a snap, or you have a spin, or whatever.”

“We are not very competitive, we felt this morning that we would have a very difficult weekend ahead of us, we were 17th and 19th with all the power available to us etc.”

Giovinazzi smashes out

Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi brought Q1 to a premature end, after coming out of the last corner and went over the kerb onto the astro turf which sent him into a spin. He then spun across the track into the tyre wall which took his front suspension off stopping on track.

That was unlucky for Giovinazzi it was a rookie error but may cost him as he took the front suspension off. He said “For me it was a disappointing ending to qualifying. It was all good until the last corner of my final lap.”

“I was already in Q2 and improving my lap time, but I pushed a bit too much, touched the grass in the exit of the last corner and then lost the rear of the car”

Steiner not happy

Following Giovinnazi’s crash, Romain Grosjean and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer were given five-place grid penalties after they passed under double waved yellow flags. Both drivers claimed they backed off, but the stewards ruled that they “attempted to set a meaningful lap time”, which is not allowed in the rules.

said Steiner “If they want everybody to stop, they need to throw a red flag. Sometimes you have to be conscious that we actually race.”

“Romain backed off. It’s a double yellow, he was – in my opinion – in control of the situation. If you look at the [data] trace, he lifted, saw nothing, accelerated, saw the wreck, lifted again. Sometimes I don’t get it, but anyway, I’m not a steward.”

Race preview

Sunday’s race is looking to be a step into the unknown as the weather is expected to be wet. These new Pirelli tyres haven’t really been tested in wet conditions so that will bring a bit of uncertainty into the race. We know that Hamilton goes well in the wet so keep an eye on him.

The battle regardless will be between the Mercedes and Ferrari. The question is have Mercedes learnt from the blunders in the strategy they made in Melbourne.

Wet conditions could also bring Max Verstappen back into play, we saw in Brazil in November how good he can be in the wet despite nearly crashing out of that race he kept it on track for third. This sets us up for a great race.




Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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