X

Chinese Grand Prix 2016 Qualifying: Saturday's F1 Results, Times, Final Grid

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2016

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 15: Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 15, 2016 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton’s miserable week at the Chinese Grand Prix continued on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round of qualifying, with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg taking pole position in Shanghai.

Some power problems prevented the world champion from setting a time in the opening stanza, meaning he’ll start from the very back of the grid on Sunday. His team-mate, who already has a 17-point lead in the championship, will lead the way ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari in second and third place, respectively.

Earlier in the day, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel topped a rainy third practice session, in which neither of the Mercedes men opted to post a time with qualifying in mind. The German will start the race in fourth.

Here’s a look back on another fascinating day in the Formula One season and how things will be shaping up on the grid come Sunday.

Qualifying Recap

Here is how things looked at the end of a thrilling qualifying session, in which last season's tried-and-tested format was reverted to:

Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION: END OF QUALIFYING #ChineseGP 🇨🇳 #Quali https://t.co/yBPGHWAG48

After a grim final practice session earlier in the day, when wet conditions prevented a lot of teams from setting a time, the outlook was a little better as the drivers got qualifying underway. The Force India team seemed pretty relieved to see sunlight:

Sahara Force India @ForceIndiaF1

The giant sky fireball is finally making an appearance! Just in time for qualifying... #ChineseGP #FeelTheForce https://t.co/EjKyrWkfuP

Still, there were some remnants of the day’s early rain on the track, as Pascal Wehrlein unfortunately discovered. The Manor Marussia man aquaplaned into a barrier just three minutes into Q1, prompting a red flag.

Conditions were difficult for the drivers early on.
Conditions were difficult for the drivers early on.GREG BAKER/Getty Images

The delay meant drivers were under pressure to get out quickly once the session resumed, and it also meant Mercedes had less time to amend an issue with the power supply on Hamilton’s car. And as the session wound down, there was no sign of the Brit setting a time.

Eventually, he was unable to, meaning that, with a five-place grid penalty to serve, he’ll start from the very back of the field. F1 journalist James Allen thinks Hamilton’s inactivity in FP3 may have cost him here:

James Allen @Jamesallenonf1

Hamilton didn't go out in FP3 - if he had that engine problem might well have been discovered when it mattered less #F1 #ChineseGP

"No-one wants it easy," Hamilton told BBC Sport after his elimination. "We are definitely in the mud but we will dig our way out."

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 16: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP talks to his engineer, Peter Bonnington in the garage during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 16, 2016 in Shanghai, Ch
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Once the shock of the champion’s exit had died down, Q2 got underway, with Rosberg and the two Ferraris jostling at the top of the leaderboard.

The German eventually finished third behind Raikkonen and Vettel in Q2, although he only opted for the soft tyres, with the Ferraris utilising the quicker super-soft compound. Any chances of Rosberg launching a late surge were curtailed, too, as another red flag brought the session to a premature close.

As we can see here, Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India lost its left front wheel with minimal time remaining in Q2:

Formula 1 @F1

RED FLAG: With 1:17 left in Q2, the session is halted after Hulkenberg loses one of his front wheels #ChineseGP https://t.co/ANUydkEmhU

Rosberg and Raikkonen sought to assert themselves early in the final session, with both posting sharp times on the super-soft tyre. It was the latter who took preliminary pole, though, edging out the Mercedes man by 0.139 seconds.

Vettel was watching on as the duo tussled on the timing boards, opting to have a one-lap crack at pole position. But with time expiring, all the drivers were out looking to get the best possible spot in the lineup for Sunday's showdown; a far cry from what we've seen with the revamped qualifying process in recent weeks.

Rosberg stepped up when it mattered.
Rosberg stepped up when it mattered.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

And it was Rosberg who rose to the occasion to set a scintillating time of 1:35.402, grabbing pole position in dramatic style.

Remarkably, Raikkonen had to make do with third as, from nowhere, Ricciardo nipped in to take second place with an awesome lap for Red Bull. Naturally, his team were pretty pleased:

Red Bull Racing @redbullracing

What a lap! P2 for @DanielRicciardo for tomorrow’s #ChineseGP with a 1:35.917! 🙌 #F1 https://t.co/wsB9u4cXjG

Not only will Hamilton’s attempts to slalom his way through the field make for a great race on Sunday, but up front, it’s evident Ferrari have a much greater chance of challenging Rosberg, who has won both races so far in 2016, even with Ricciardo in the mix.

Nevertheless, the Mercedes man is in sublime form and, with open road in front of him, will prove very difficult to beat in Shanghai.

FP3 Recap

Here is a look at the provisional classification from FP3, in which Vettel was the quickest of just 14 cars to set a time:

Formula 1 @F1

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION End of a wet #FP3 at the #ChineseGP 🇨🇳 https://t.co/SrLRnQPxRF

With the amount of wet-weather tyres available limited, a lot of the teams in the paddock opted to save up their resources rather than go out for a paddle on a damp circuit.

Of the drivers who did take to the Shanghai circuit, Vettel was the most impressive, setting a benchmark of 1:57.351. His team-mate Raikkonen could only muster a time of 2:00.812, leaving him languishing down in 12th spot come the end of the session.

Poor conditions made for an uneventful FP3.
Poor conditions made for an uneventful FP3.GREG BAKER/Getty Images

The man who got closest to Vettel was Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who was 0.710 seconds back, while Force India’s Sergio Perez took third.

Instead of going out of the garage for a stint in the wet, the Mercedes pair of Rosberg and Hamilton opted to sit this one out for long spells with qualifying to come. The team’s Twitter feed summed up their respective inactivity:

Mercedes-AMG F1 @MercedesAMGF1

BREAKING NEWS: There's no news to report... Both boys out of their wagons... #FP3 Game over. Can't wait for the debrief...💤💤💤 #F1 #ChineseGP

There were a few drivers who had a run on the extreme tyre compound, typically used for the most severe wet conditions on race day. Of those, Carlos Sainz was quickest in the Toro Rosso, coming in fourth fastest.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.