Rosberg Scores First Pole with an Inch-Perfect Qualifying Lap in Shanghai

by David Bean
Nico Rosberg - Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG GP

Nico Rosberg - Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG GP


Nico Rosberg took his first ever Formula 1 pole position today in Shanghai amazing lap that stunned on-lookers and impressed the other drivers.

Neither Lewis Hamilton nor Michael Schumacher – his closest competitors today – could compete with Rosberg’s lap time, and qualified only second and third.

Hamilton has a five-place grid penalty for changing a gear box that will drop him down to seventh on the grid, which will promote Schumacher up onto the front row with his Mercedes team-mate.

Although it was an excellent afternoon for Rosberg, another German did not fare so well. Sebastian Vettel not only failed to make it four pole positions in a row in China, he failed even to make it through into Q3 for the first time since the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Kamui Kobayashi qualified in fourth for Sauber, Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, Jenson Button sixth, and Mark Webber seventh. These drivers will all move up a place when Hamilton's penalty is applied.

Sergio Perez, who was fastest in Q1 (albeit by using a set of the Pirelli soft tyres when others were sticking to the harder compound), rounded off a good session for Sauber by qualifying eighth. Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean were ninth and tenth.

Rosberg's fantastic lap – a 1:35.121 – came early in Q3. Schumacher and Hamilton's first attempts were half a second slower than this lap, demonstrating just how quick Rosberg had been.

Other than these drivers and Kimi Raikkonen, nobody else had soft tyres to spare for two runs in Q3. This meant just one flying lap for the other six runners, but they failed to challenge even the top three.

Rosberg was so confident in his lap that he did not bother to go back out on track and defend his time. This decision was fully justified when Hamilton and Schumacher left the garage again but abandoned their laps.

Mercedes also set the early pace in Q2, and Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher could sit pretty in the pits after putting in laps of 1:35.725 and 1:35.729 respectively.

Lewis Hamilton was only a couple of tenths off this duo, but others like Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Mark Webber struggled to breach the 1:36.000 barrier – Button, Webber and Alonso managed to do it in the closing stages of Q2, but Vettel failed and will start from P11 tomorrow.

The world champion will at least get to choose which tyres he starts the race on tomorrow, and saved himself a set of tyres by not participating in Q3.

Felipe Massa also failed to make it into Q3, and will start alongside Vettel on race day. The two Williams drivers, led by Pastor Maldonado, occupy the seventh row of the Shanghai grid after today's session, but the Venezuelan is under investigation for impeding Heikki Kovalainen during Q1, and may yet get a penalty.

The two Force India drivers, led by Paul di Resta, qualified on the eighth row of the grid and Daniel Ricciardo, who actually set a slower time in Q2 than he did in Q1, was slowest in the second part of qualifying.

Jean-Eric Vergne dropped out of qualifying at the end of Q1 for the second consecutive race, and will start from eighteenth. Starting here will probably not bother the Frenchman too much – he finished eighth after starting from that position in Malaysia – but the fact that he was eight tenths of a second slower than team-mate Ricciardo will be less welcome.

Heikki Kovalainen out-qualified Caterham team-mate Vitaly Petrov in nineteenth, Timo Glock leads an all-Marussia eleventh row, and HRT make up the back row with Pedro de la Rosa getting the better of Narain Karthikeyan.


2012 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix: Provisional Qualifying Result

Pos No Driver Team Time Laps
1 8 Germany Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes 1:35.121 11
2 4 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton United Kingdom McLaren 1:35.626 14
3 7 Germany Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes 1:35.691 13
4 14 Japan Kamui Kobayashi Switzerland Sauber 1:35.784 13
5 9 Kimi Räikkönen United Kingdom Lotus 1:35.898 15
6 3 United Kingdom Jenson Button United Kingdom McLaren 1:36.191 16
7 2 Australia Mark Webber Austria Red Bull 1:36.290 14
8 15 Mexico Sergio Perez Switzerland Sauber 1:36.524 17
9 5 Spain Fernando Alonso Italy Ferrari 1:36.622 17
10 10 France Romain Grosjean United Kingdom Lotus No Q3 Time 15
11 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Austria Red Bull 1:36.031 11
12 6 Brazil Felipe Massa Italy Ferrari 1:36.255 14
13 18 Venezuela Pastor Maldonado United Kingdom Williams 1:36.283 14
14 19 Brazil Bruno Senna United Kingdom Williams 1:36.289 14
15 11 United Kingdom Paul di Resta India Force India 1:36.317 14
16 12 Germany Nico Hulkenberg India Force India 1:36.745 14
17 16 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Italy Toro Rosso 1:36.956 14
18 17 France Jean-Eric Vergne Italy Toro Rosso 1:37.714 8
19 20 Finland Heikki Kovalainen Malaysia Caterham 1:38.463 9
20 21 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov Malaysia Caterham 1:38.677 7
21 24 Germany Timo Glock Russian Federation Marussia 1:39.282 10
22 25 France Charles Pic Russian Federation Marussia 1:39.717 10
23 22 Spain Pedro de la Rosa Spain HRT 1:40.411 7
24 23 India Narain Karthikeyan Spain HRT 1:41.000 10
Q1 107% Time 1:42.931

*Hamilton will drop to seventh place once a five-place grid penalty is applied.

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