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GP Week : Issue 218
QUALIFYING It was business as usual for Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton claimed pole over Nico Rosberg, but it was the tale of Ferrari which captivated qualifying. Throughout practice the Italian team had shown good pace. Lacking in ultimate single lap speed to Mercedes the red team was clearly the second best team, with some distance to third best. But what Ferrari lacked over a single lap it looked to have over a long run, certainly enough to worry the Mercedes in the race, making it important both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel made the second row of the grid at least. Vettel fulfilled that requirement with third though a scrappy lap from Raikkonen saw him in sixth behind both Williams. The fault was with the Iceman, who had showed good pace earlier in the weekend to emerge as the man most likely to challenge Mercedes. Oversteer on the exit of turn three cost him in the first sector while he also out-braking himself at turn six didn't help matters. There was also a missed apex towards the end of the lap which combined to really hurt his laptime. McLaren too flattered to deceive. Setting competitive times on Friday there was again genuine belief one of the two could escape the first phase of qualifying. The two Honda powered cars locked out the penultimate row of the grid, ahead only of the two Marussias who both made it within the 107% cutoff on merit. Having shown pace on Friday, Red Bull looked like it could challenge for third best team on the grid though Daniil Kvyat fell out of qualifying in the second session while Daniel RicciarDO was only able to set the seventh best time. The team had played with a lower downforce setup on Ricciardo's car on Friday which appeared to bring results, certainly in terms of top speed which had been woefully slow on Friday morning. Kvyat was disappointing, a scrappy session and scrappy lap. The Russian is yet to impress in his new role at the Red Bull senior team and will soon come under pressure to retain his seat from Max Verstappen if he's unable to lift his performances. Sauber will be pleased, backing up their strong pace in Australia to have both cars in the top ten. It speaks volumes for the team, suggesting 2014 was perhaps not all about simply a bad car so much as a bad Ferrari engine. With the improvements made in Maranello showing themselves clearly on the red cars it logically follows that a strong engine will allow Sauber to also shine. It's 2015 contender is a solid car, mercedes fends off feisty Ferraris FoRmULA 1 Round 3 chINESE gp – Qualifying pos drIver TeAm Q1 Q2 Q3 LAps 1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.285 1:36.423 1:35.782 12 2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.496 1:36.949 1:35.824 12 3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:37.502 1:36.957 1:36.687 17 4 Felipe Massa Williams 1:38.433 1:37.357 1:36.954 15 5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:38.014 1:37.763 1:37.143 15 6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:38.790 1:37.109 1:37.232 17 7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:38.534 1:37.939 1:37.540 18 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:38.209 1:38.063 1:37.905 20 9 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:38.521 1:38.017 1:38.067 16 10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:38.941 1:38.127 1:38.158 15 11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.563 1:38.134 13 12 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:39.051 1:38.209 13 13 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:38.387 1:38.393 14 14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:38.622 1:38.538 14 15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.903 1:39.290 10 16 Nico Hulkenberg Forice India 1:39.216 6 17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:39.276 6 18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:39.280 8 19 Will Stevens Marussia 1:42.091 6 20 Roberto Mehri Marussia 1:42.842 8 Q1 107% Time 1:44.327 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> CHINA PARTNERS: