Red Bull and Sebastien Vettel will start the Chinese Grand Prix from Pole position as Baby Schumi scythed his way up the order despite running just 11 laps because of a driveshaft problem. Joining him alongside will be the Renault of Fernando Alonso who pushed down early P1-holder Mark Webber into 3rd place. The two Brawns of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button will start 4th and 5th with Jarno Trulli, Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Buemi completing the top 10.
This is the first-ever pole position for Red Bull and though many will have expected Mark Webber to achieve it, turned out that his new teammate has done it! But Webber was not too far back though…he held interim pole for both Q2 and Q3 until Vettel usurped him both the times. Alonso managed a late charge to P2 but he’s running without KERS so a slam-bang-zip off the starting line may not be possible.
I could only ‘hear’ the Q1 session since for some goddamn reason, Star Sports was coming on in an audio-only mode 👿 . The two Force India cars were at the back of the grid, the performance improvements clearly not upto the mark. Joining them at the back were Nelson Piquet, Sebastien Bourdais and surprise surprise…the BMW of Robert Kubica, who was so unhappy with KERS on his car yesterday that he chose to remove it today. Didn’t do him much good, did it? The two Brawn GP cars were the fastest in Q1 followed by the Red Bull of Mark Webber. McLaren’s interim diffuser seems to have done the trick as Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest.
Q2, the fastest session, saw both the Red Bull cars go fastest with Sebastien Vettel ahead of teammate Mark Webber & the Brawns right behind. Ferrari, McLaren, Toyota and Williams faced mixed fortunes as Massa, Kovalainen, Glock and Nakajima falling out of the reckoning for Q3 but Raikkonen, Hamilton, Trulli & Rosberg making it. Nick Heidfeld finished 11th fastest. Glock will fall back five further places because of a gearbox change. It was a frustrating session for Felipe Massa and looks like it will be theird successive race without any points for him…unless he puts in a stormer of a drive tomorrow! Teammate Kimi Raikkonen is at a better position but the Ferrari is clearly lacking pace and the eternal tyre-management issues continue to dog them.
I reckon the Red Bulls and Brawns will fight it out for the race win and the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, Trulli, Rosberg et al fighting for the points. Overtaking is pretty dicey in Shanghai and with only three cars running KERS (Heidfeld, Kovalainen & Hamilton) it will be a less-than-exciting race on Sunday. Hope the drivers prove me wrong…