Sebastian Vettel Secures Pole Position In China Ahead of Raikkonen

Sebastian Vettel - China GP - Qualifying
Credit: Scuderia Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel surprised everyone with another late lap in qualifying to secure Pole Position ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, beating team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to secure another front-row for the Italian team.

The championship leader grabbed a lap time of 1:31.095 moments after Raikkonen improved his initial pole time. Valtteri Bottas will start his 100th Grand Prix in third place.

Lewis Hamilton qualified in fourth place as both Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport cars’ were over half a second slower than Ferrari, setting up for a exciting race tomorrow. Both teams will start the race on the soft compound tyres tomorrow.

The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s fill up the third row with Max Verstappen getting one ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who after a turbo failure in Free Practice 3, did well to get it in sixth.

Renault Sport F1 Team‘s Nico Hulkenberg was the best of the rest with the seventh best time ahead of Sergio Perez. Carlos Sainz Jr. qualified ninth with Haas F1 Team‘s Romain Grosjean rounding off the top ten.

Prior to the sessions, Daniel Ricciardo’s session was put in doubt following a turbo failure during the final practice session.

Qualifying kicked off with the Williams Martini Racing of Sergey Sirotkin hitting the track first and Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team‘s Charles Leclerc placing the first lap time of the session.

Scuderia Ferrari‘s Kimi Raikkonen was the first out of the front runners to set a quick lap time and goes fastest with a 1:32.474. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton soon followed but both couldn’t match the Ferrari drivers’ time.

Max Verstappen appeared out on track next and ended up splitting the Mercedes pair in Q1, pushing Hamilton down to fifth.

Charles Leclerc escaped from a big spin down the main straight and avoided hitting the barrier, enabling to resume his qualifying runs.

With three minutes remaining of the session, Daniel Ricciardo successfully managed to get out on track in time for one timed lap in a bid to get out of Q1. He set a decent time to put him in thirteenth place, enough to push him in to the second session.

The first victims of Qualifying were Marcus Ericsson, Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Sergey Sirotkin.

The second Qualifying session began and the quest for a spot on the shootout session with Mercedes and Ferrari sending their drivers’ out on the Soft Pirelli tyres. The twelve other runners went out on the Ultrasoft tyres.

Valtteri Bottas set the initial pace with a 1:32.931, Hamilton failed to match it but both Ferrari’s of Raikkonen and Vettel quickly took over the top spot. The Red Bull drivers of Ricciardo and Verstappen soon push themselves ahead of the Mercedes drivers.

Both Mercedes’ drivers stayed out for another lap and aimed to improve their times. Bottas pushed himself up to fourth place whilst Hamilton could only manage the sixth fastest time. They sent the British driver back out on another set on the soft compound tyres and went fastest of the session, breaking into the 1:31’s.

Ferrari initially sent Kimi Raikkonen out on the Ultrasoft tyre compounds but dived back into the pits, meaning both Ferrari’s and Mercedes’ will start the race on the Soft compound tyres.

The drivers who failed to make it into the shootout sessions were Kevin Magnussen, Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne and Brendon Hartley.

The final session and the quest for pole began with everyone excluding Sergio Perez hitting the track. Nico Hulkenberg set the initial pace with a 1:32.602.

Kimi Raikkonen set the first lap time of the front runners with a 1:31.200 and goes top. Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas couldn’t match the Finnish driver’s time and filled the spaces in the top 3. Hamilton initially could only managed fourth fastest on the first lap ahead of the two Red Bull’s.

With minutes remaining, everyone hit the track trying to find that extra tenths of a second to push up their grid positions. The Mercedes were first out on track and enough time to do two laps compare to others. Bottas improved but remained third whilst Hamilton abandoned his lap and headed back in the pits.

Raikkonen improved his time and looked clear favourite for pole position until team-mate Vettel surprised everyone with a stunning lap of a 1:31.095 to put himself on pole position ahead of Raikkonen for the second race in a row. Both Ferrari’s are over half a second ahead of the Mercedes cars.

15Sebastian VettelScuderia Ferrari1:31.09515
27Kimi RaikkonnenScuderia Ferrari1:31.1820.08717
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:31.6250.53020
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team1:31.6750.58017
533Max VerstappenAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:31.7960.70112
63Daniel RicciardoAston Martin Red Bull Racing1:31.9480.85312
727Nico HulkenbergRenault Sport Formula One Team1:32.5321.43715
811Sergio PerezSahara Force India F1 Team1:32.7581.66313
955Carlos Sainz JrRenault Sport Formula One Team1:32.8191.72418
108Romain GrosjeanHaas-F1 Team1:32.8551.76019
1120Kevin MagnussenHaas-F1 TeamQ2 1:32.98613
1231Esteban OconSahara Force India F1 Team1:33.0579
1314Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Formula 1 Team1:33.23211
142Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Formula 1 Team1:33.50511
1528Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso1:33.79515
1635Sergey SirotkinWilliams Martini RacingQ1 1:34.0627
1710Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso1:34.1019
1818Lance StrollWilliams Martini Racing1:34.2857
1916Charles LeclercAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team1:34.4549
209Marcus EricssonAlfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team1:34.9149