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Chinese GP Qualifying: Rosberg stuns with maiden F1 pole; Leads Schumacher in Silver Arrow front row

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nico_rosberg2Nico Rosberg stomped to the first ever pole position of his F1 career with a dominant lap in final qualifying. The talented German pulled one out of the bag early in the session, parked his car and imperiously strode away from the scene throwing down the gauntlet to the rest of his rivals. Hamilton came the closest but nearly 0.5s behind but a 5 place gird penalty meant he would start in 7th. Schumacher was the direct beneficiary joining his teammate on the front row in the first ever factory Mercedes lockout.

Kobayashi thrilled with third place and Raikkonen continued his superb comeback with 4th place. Button & Hamilton sandwiched Webber’s Red Bull in 5th, 6th & 7th place. Following behind were Malaysian GP heroes Perez & Alonso with Grosjean rounding off the top 10 in his Lotus.

The big surprise in qualifying was undoubtedly Sebastien Vettel’s failure to make the final shootout while Ferrari’s lack of real pace was on stark display with the disappointing Massa’s failure to make it to Q3.

Final Top 10: Rosberg (Mercedes), Schumacher (Mercedes), Kobayashi (Sauber), Raikkonen (Lotus), Button (McLaren), Hamilton (McLaren), Webber (Red Bull), Perez (Sauber), Alonso (Ferrari), Grosjean (Lotus)


It was a quiet start to the second session before exploding into action as F1 Champion Sebastien Vettel failed to make the cut for the top 10 shootout. Ferrari had said they needed a miracle to make Q3 and Alonso duly delivered dragging his Ferrari just ahead of Vettel in the final Q3 spot. His teammate yet again failed to make final cut in what is turning out to be a regularity rather than a surprise. Earlier Kobayashi was the first to take to the track followed by Raikkonen and teammate Perez. Raikkonen and Kobayashi set sub 1.36s but the Mercedes flexed their muscle as Rosberg and Schumacher strode to the top of the time sheets. They were upstaged however by Mark Webber who took provisional pole in a last gasp effort.

Eliminated: Vettel (Red Bull), Massa (Ferrari), Maldonado (Williams), Senna (Williams), di Resta (Force India), Hulkenberg (Force India), Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)


Like in Malaysia, Di Resta was the first to complete a timed lap setting a marker lap of 1:38 in overcast, rather grey conditions. Order was quickly established with the big boys heading the field. The exception was Ferrari who were the first to shift to the softer compounds to stay competitive. The softer tyres which are reputed to be about a second quicker took Massa briefly to a very provisional pole but only by a tenth of a second starkly displaying Ferrari’s lack of competitive pace. Eventually Sergio Perez finished on top a split second ahead of Alonso leading a rafter of cars on the options. Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull chose to save a set of softer compounds as their pace on the primes was sufficient to take them into Q2. The usual suspects were eliminated with Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso being the big disappointment nearly 0.8 sec behind his teammate Ricciardo.

Eliminated: Karthikeyan (HRT), De la Rosa (HRT), Pic (Marussia), Glock (Marussia), Petrov (Caterham), Kovalainen (Caterham), Vergne (Toro Rosso)

File Photograph Copyright: Mercedes 2011