Chinese Grand Prix – Saturday Qualifying – Hamilton on Pole, Massa 3rd, Kimi 2nd

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix with nearest rival Felipe Massa in P3. Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest while Heikki Kovalainen was fifth with the on-form man Fernando Alonso in P4. Red Bull’s Mark Webber was sixth fastest but will drop down ten places because of an engine change. Nick Heidfeld, Sebastian Vettel, Jarno Trulli and Sebastien Bourdais take the last of the top ten places on the grid. The front row of the grid is exactly same as the Japanese Grand Prix where Raikkonen had pulled off the starting line much quicker than Hamilton. If that happens again and with Massa and Alonso just behind Lewis, it can quickly turn into an ugly scrap for the race lead into the first corner.

Chinese Grand Prix - Qualifying Grid

Chinese Grand Prix Grid - Lewis Hamilton on Pole, with Kimi Raikkonen alongside and Felipe Massa on P3

Q1’s early leaders were Nelson Piquet, Timo Glock & Sebastian Vettel but when the big four came rolling, it was Lewis Hamilton who was P1 ahead of his teammate and the two Ferraris. Both the McLarens paced in the mid 1 Min 35s times and at the end of the session, the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel and the Renault of Fernando Alonso were in between the McLarens and the Ferraris. BMW’s Robert Kubica made it into Q2 by the skin of his teeth as he could manage only 14th fastest at the tail end of the session. Those who dropped out of the session were the Red Bull of David Coulthard, Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima, Honda’s Jenson Button and the two Force India’s of Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Q2 started off amidst complaints from Coulthard about the BMW of Nick Heidfeld impeding his run but that’s something the Stewards will look into later on. Kimi Raikkonen was the early pace setter but was almost immediately pegged back by Heikki Kovalainen, who in turn was immediately pegged back by Massa. Hamilton could manage just fifth fastest initially but then put on soft tyres and did a blinder of a lap – the only driver to drop to 1 Min 34.9s – and was P1 for that session. Robert Kubica was again in trouble and could manage only 11th fastest which ultimately dropped down to 12th. Joining him in being relegated from the second session were Nelson Piquet, Rubens Barrichello, Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg. They will however move up a place on the grid owing to Mark Webber’s 10-place penalty for an Engine change (and may also move up two places if the stewards decide to punish Nick Heidfeld for impeding David Coulthard).

Q3, as usual, was a straight shootout for the pole position amongst the top two teams and as in Q2, Raikkonen was the early leader and surprisingly, Mark Webber was second fastest. Massa and Hamilton both couldn’t pip that but Heikki Kovalainen did and put his McLaren on provisional pole in the initial runs. When the final runs were made, it was Kimi first, then Hamilton eclipsed that effortlessly but Massa couldn’t and neither could Kovalainen. Crucially, Massa was slower than Kimi which meant he was in P3 and immediately behind Lewis. Fernando Alonso put his Renault in between Massa and Kovalainen and if the front-runners trip over themselves at the start of the race, it can be yet another win for the double world champion! All is set for an exciting race tomorrow!!!

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