Vettel pips Raikkonen to Pole in China

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel takes back-to-back pole positions ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes Valterri Bottas with Lewis Hamilton in 4th ahead of both Red Bulls.

14/04/18

After both Friday Practise sessions it looked like that Mercedes had the upper-hand but come Saturday, Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari pulled it out of the bag. Vettel was quickest in FP3 but it once again looked that it was Kimi Raikkonen who was going to be on Pole.

The Finn’s first lap was a new lap record which put him at the top but just over 1 tenth. Having gone quicker in his second lap, it was up to Vettel to see if he could beat him. The German kept up with Raikkonen throughout the lap to nick Pole Position. Both will start on the Soft tyre.

Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday Practise sessions and with Valterri Bottas close behind, many favoured Hamilton for Pole. Come Saturday, it was advantage Ferrari and Mercedes seemed to be further back. With Ferrari locking-out the front-row, the battle was on the be 3rd on the grid. It went to Bottas with Hamilton abandoning his final Q3 lap. Both drivers will start on the Soft tyre, along with Ferrari.

After Qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo called his Red Bull mechanics as “legends” for pulling off an engine change and getting him out just in time for one lap at the end of the Q1 after his turbo failure in FP3. Team-mate Max Verstappen was able to pip the Australian to 5th. Tensions are very high between Red Bull and Renault at the moment.

For the 7th time in 6 races, Nico Hulkenberg qualified in 7th place. The German was comfortably ahead of Sergio Perez and team-mate Carlos Sainz. Sainz on the other hand, didn’t far as well as Hulkenberg and will start 9th. A good haul of points tomorrow is the aim.

It was a superb effort from Sergio Perez to get his Force India into Q3. While Esteban Ocon just missed out in 12th, today marked Force India’s best qualifying to date. Perez is hoping to get his first points of the season tomorrow and both are looking forward to the race.

It was another great effort by Haas’s Romain Grosjean to get into Q3 after a brake-by-wire failure meant that he had to miss most of FP3. Team-mate Kevin Magnussen had been firmly inside the top 10 throughout the practise sessions and will start 11th although on the Soft tyre.

Both McLarens were able to survive Q1 and employed a different tactic in Q2. Stoffel Vandoorne completed his one and only lap in Q2 early, helped by a tow by team-mate Fernando Alonso. Vandoorne repaid this later in Q2 for Alonso but it wasn’t enough to get through to Q3. Luckily enough both McLaren’s were ahead of both Toro Rosso’s this time.

Brendon Hartley had to out-qualify team-mate Pierre Gasly today and that’s what he did. Hartley was able to get into Q2 while Gasly was knocked-out in Q1 and sandwiched between the both Williams cars with the Frenchman admitting that he had somehow lost pace from Friday. Points may be a tough ask as for a very tight mid-field battle.

It was a slightly more encouraging session for Williams but once again weren’t able to get a car into Q2. Sergey Sirotkin did an amazing job, carrying his good pace from FP3 to 16th ahead of a Gasly’s Toro Rosso. Lance Stroll admitted that had locked-up into turn 15 on his final lap which would have cost him time. Getting both cars home tomorrow will be the aim.

It was a good recovery for Charles Leclerc who had spun earlier in the session to out-qualify team-mate Marcus Ericsson for the first time this season. Although at the back of the grid, Sauber seem confident of a good race tomorrow fighting the likes of Williams.

Qualifying Result

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:31:095
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:31:182
  3. Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:31:625
  4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:31:675
  5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:31:796
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1:31:948
  7. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:32:532
  8. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:32:758
  9. Carlos Sainz, Renault, 1:32:819
  10. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:32:855
  11. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:32:986
  12. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:33:057
  13. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:33:232
  14. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:33:505
  15. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, 1:33:795
  16. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, 1:34:062
  17. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, 1:34:101
  18. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:34:285
  19. Charles Leclerc, Sauber, 1:34:454
  20. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:34:914

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