F1 Winter Break
Rosberg gets feelgood first F1 pole as Kobayashi and Raikkonen shine
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Apr 2012   |  8:59 am GMT  |  205 comments

Mercedes will have an all Silver Arrows front row in tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix, the first time this has happened since their comeback as a constructor in 2010.

Nico Rosberg took an emotional first F1 pole position, in his 111th Grand Prix, while Michael Schumacher moves up to join him on the front row after Lewis Hamilton is demoted five places on the grid tomorrow, from second to seventh, due to a forced gearbox change penalty.

“It went really well and it’s a very special feeling,” Rosberg said. “Now obviously l am looking forward to starting first in the race!

“The track was was cooling off, the temperatures were coming down, so the rear tyres started working better. We changed setup before the last run and I did a perfect lap.”

Hamilton was delighted for Rosberg who has been a friend and colleague since childhood, the pair sat beaming in the unilateral TV studio after the session. “Congratulations to Nico,” said Hamilton. “It’s fantastic and I am proud of him.

“We grew up racing together and we dreamed of racing in F1. We were team-mates in 2000 and friends before that.”

It was a terrific qualifying session, full of drama with Sebastian Vettel eliminated in Q2, at the same time as Mark Webber was setting the fastest time of the session in the sister car. Vettel was only 3/10ths of a second off Webber, but it was enough to be eliminated. Vettel last fell out in Q2 in Hungary 2008 in his Toro Rosso days. His last failure to make it through to Q3 was Brazil 2009 when he dropped out in Q1 in the Red Bull.

Red Bull has been pulled in two directions on exhaust layouts this weekend, with Vettel preferring the older specification “inboard” exhausts and Webber liking the Melbourne/ Sepang specification with “outboard” exhausts.

The session underlined how close it is in F1 these days, with Q2 in particular very close; less than 3/10ths of a second separated the top 11 cars. These included world championship leader Fernando Alonso, who pulled out a great lap to make it into Q3 at the expense of Vettel. Under pressure Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa also did a strong lap, given the car’s limitations, to set the 12th fastest time just over 2/10ths slower than Alonso. Behind him within half a tenth were the next three cars, Paul di Resta and the two Williams drivers.

Rosberg set the pole time early in Q3 on his first lap, an astonishing half second faster than Hamilton or Schumacher. He timed it just right because – unusually – the track then got slower in the final minutes of Q3 as the temperature dropped and the humidity increased. Rosberg was out of his car and spectating when the other cars set their times at the end of the session and he saved a set of new soft tyres for the race into the bargain.

The Mercedes was the fastest car in the high speed final sector of the lap all weekend, using the DRS wing with its drag reducing front wing adjunct. This will not be available to them in the race tomorrow and with the Mercedes’ heavier tyre wear, it’s likely that Rosberg and Schumacher will struggle to stay in those positions. Hamilton is quietly confident that he has the car in race conditions to win and that he can come through from seventh on the grid, as will be his team mate Jenson Button, starting 5th.

“I’ve set my car up a bit differently so it looks after its tyres a bit better but is still quick, so hopefully that will make a difference,” said Hamilton.

The stars of qualifying, aside from Rosberg, were Kamui Kobayashi who got his best every qualifying position in 4th, with Kimi Raikkoen close behind in 5th. Neither will make it easy for the McLarens to pass, particularly as the Sauber is the fastest car through the speed trap, but judging by the long run times from practice, the McLaren should have enough performance to make it. The surprise was the disappointing performance of the Red Bull cars, with Webber only 6th on the grid and starting behind Button. Webber, like all the runners who did one lap only at the end of the session, failed to match his best Q2 time.

Webber and Vettel are only 19th and 20th through the speed trap, some 11km/h down on the Sauber.

The rest of the grid lines up in team pairings as the Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso, Caterham, Marussia and HRT all share a row with their team mates. Pastor Maldonado got the upper hand on Bruno Senna by 0.006 seconds, with the Venezuelan looking to complete a race for the first time this season.

Paul Di Resta also put in a good lap to qualify ahead of his team mate, although he will feel aggrieved to find himself in fifteenth after being just 0.2 seconds off the pace in the second part of qualifying.

The two Toro Rosso’s were split between the first two qualifying sessions as Jean Eric-Vergne joined the usual back-runners. He will start ahead of the Caterham and Marussia’s as well as the HRT who continue to show improvement and were comfortably within the 107% limit.

It’s already a game of strategy for tomorrow’s race: those who opted to do only one run in Q3, may have fund the track disappointingly slow, but they saved a set of new tyres for the race, which will be worth a lot. Also choosing the same tactic were Button, Perez and Alonso.

Last year we saw a mixture of two stops and three stops but three was faster at the end of the race. Why not see whether you can find the fastest way to do the race, now we know who has a set of new soft tyres and who doesn’t by using our RACE STRATEGY CALCULATOR

[Additional reporting: Matt Meadows]

CHINESE GRAND PRIX, Shanghai, Qualifying

1. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m35.121s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m35.626s + 0.505
3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m35.691s + 0.570
4. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m35.784s + 0.663
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m35.898s + 0.777
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1m36.191s + 1.070
7. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m36.290s + 1.169
8. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m36.524s + 1.403
9. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m36.622s + 1.501
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus No time

11. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m36.031s + 0.331
12. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m36.255s + 0.555
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m36.283s + 0.583
14. Bruno Senna Williams 1m36.289s + 0.589
15. Paul di Resta Force India 1m36.317s + 0.617
16. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m36.745s + 1.045
17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m36.956s + 1.256

18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m37.714s + 1.516
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m38.463s + 2.265
20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m38.677s + 2.479
21. Timo Glock Marussia 1m39.282s + 3.084
22. Charles Pic Marussia 1m39.717s + 3.519
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m40.411s + 4.213
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m41.000s + 4.802

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I did say months ago those Mercedes cars were going to be very good even before there 1st test day this season, and oh yes that reminds me who is Vettel?? did i not also say he was not as good as the car/results suggest?? look at Alonso in a real dog of a car!


A title about the winner Nico Rosberg and lots of great videos under it ;-). Enjoy it, guys!



I fully agree. Will be interesting to see how Vettel goes starting P11.

Alonso + Hamilton gives it their all even if the car isn't perfect. Button less so but they've all at some time or another started out of top 10 but ended up on the podium. Webber too. If Vettel can pull something like that I'll have more respect for him.

Vettel is good, can't deny that but to me not quite in the Alonso club yet.


+1 Vettel yes prob at the tail end of top 5 current driver certainly not top 3 of current drivers.


3 tenths off P1 in one session and suddenly Vettel is rubbish.


Not rubbish, just (very) overrated IMO.


Yes, not wise to write Vettel off just yet. Nonetheless, fascinating how different things have been at Red Bull this year, compared to last.

No doubt a championship requires not just a top car and driver, but synergy between the two.


I agree completely! People here seem to forget how close the field is at he moment.

In Q2, Ricciardo on Place 17 was just 1.2 seconds behind the leader!

You just need to miss one apex slightly to easily lose 5 places.


Ohh this season is shapping up nicely.

I just love the surprises like Perez and Alonso last time, Kobayashi and Rosberg this time. Good on them. Really happy to see ten cars separated by just 0.3s.

Vettel? Where's the finger now?

Is it weird that I am so enjoying the fact that Vettel is struggeling and is even slower then Mark? How is it possible for Alonso to pull out that time in the Ferrari and Vettel to mess up while Mark sets the fastest time?

Well done Nico. Wish the Mercedes boys a good race tomorrow. Ohh and guess what! Vettel will have to overtake tomorrow :)) It's gonna be a cracking race!


agree with both your points. it's good to see brawn develop a strong car with the potential to win races. i also agree with your alonso/vettel comparison, i am a massive mclaren fan (particularly button) but i have to say i think alonso is the best f1 drivers i've seen for a long time.


Aye Aye Captain!



You are absolutly correct about Schumacher achieving results that should not be expected, given the package at his disposal. However, after seeing what he did to Hill (Adelaide 1994), Villeneuve (Jerez 1997) and Alonso (Monaco 2006) among others, I realised Schumacher is prepared to do exactly whatever is needed, no matter if legal/moral/ethical or not, in order to win. At that moment I did loose the bigger part of respect for him and his achievements.


I may agree that Alonso is the best post senna, but most of you guys has forgotten some of the races MS won in 1995, on a ferrari that was pretty much a dog as this one.


As for Alonso clearly the best post senna in my eyes, as for teams yes also if picking teams i am a Mclaren fan too just not too excited about any of the drivers.


i have said it before many will note, expect to see Newey (certainly) and quite possibly Newey/Brawn and co at Ferrari by the end of 3 seasons from now.


Newey is very good, but overrated IMO. When Ferrari won five consecutive times 2000-2004, Newey was (together with the rest) the looser all those times. You need a good team, not a single person.


Kevin, you don't need to keep trying to talk yourself up on these talkbacks. That's not what the rest of us are here for. You don't need to prove yourself, just share your opinion and let other people have theirs. JA is the real expert here.


I'm not sure Brawn and Newey particularly like each other.


why couldnt he beat lewis then?its funny how after button beat lewis,button becomes better or atleast as good as him.

but a rookie lewis finishes above 2x world champ alonso and yet alonso is still the best in f1.

very strange.yeah button beat lewis,but that was a off season for lewis,like when massa beat kimi.


Matthew does the above first 2 points answer your questions?? i did earlier reply to the same effect but [Mod] chose not to post them they might have been slightly STRONG worded!!


Yeah, all of McLaren was against him, yeah right! That's why he got first call in China? Hungary was Alonso's fault, he didn't have to incur that penalty.

So, HwS, at what point did McLaren fully line up against Alonso? Was it right after Alonso's win (his 3rd) in the Euro GP, the race before Hungary? YouTube how Alonso celebrated that win, and tell me the team was against him.

I think after that, that Alonso went to Dennis, asked for outright #1 status, and was rebuffed. Alonso then spit out his dummy.


It's clear to see that Alonso himself has come to terms with his 2007 season at McLaren, and that he has acknowledged on more than a few occasions that Hamilton is his strongest rival (e.g. the comments last season re: winning w/o the outright fastest car).

I think Alonso didn't believe McLaren were truly serious about their "let them race" philosophy in regards to their drivers, up until he saw how Button was treated vis-a-vis Hamilton in 2010 & 2011.

That's partially b/c of Alonso's prior F1 experience, when he was the #1 at Renault in their good years, to the point where Fisichella was told to let Alonso thru in Canada.

I saw an interview with Whitmarsh earlier this year, and he did talk about discussions around 2007, and Whitmarsh himself stated that he thought McLaren should've lined up behind one driver later in the season, giving it away that they didn't. It's unclear who Whitmarsh believes McLaren should've favoured, but my sense of it was that he thought they should've lined up behind Alonso (which all would acknowledge would've been the safe bet, 2xDWC vs Rookie). But Dennis played it down the middle, and it cost them bigtime (the WCC, the WDC, and $100m!).


So Button beats Lewis, its an off season for Lewis. When Massa beats Kimi, its an off season for Kimi.

But when Lewis beats Alonso, Alonso is forever defined by one season that happened five years ago and can never be considered the best no matter what he does? Seems a bit unfair.

What if 2007 was Alono's off season (given the problems he had with Ron)? He still equaled Lewis points for the season and 2007 was actually Lewis' best season in F1 in terms of points, podiums and consistancy.

Wouldn't that mean an Alonso off season=Lewis best season.


Maybe it was an off season for Alonso then too?


You are incorrect if you say that lewis beat alonso that year.

Alonso may have been a double world champ when he went to McLaren but he came from a team that had a completely different mentality, whereas Lewis had been with McLaren since he was a kid and was clearly the favoured son of Ron Dennis. And despite all of the tricks Anthony Hamilton tried to pull for his son that year Alonso STILL finished on equal points with Hamilton that year..

In fact some may argue that if McLaren would have disciplined Lewis that year (remember qualifying in Hungary where apparently he told Ron Dennis to 'go swivle'?) then Alonso's experience would have given them the championship instead of letting Raikkonen come through and steal it right at the end.

A good reality check then may have also stopped Hamilton from becoming such a sour puss these days.


Having the whole Mclaren organisation against you, I would imagine is difficult to beat anyone.

Montoya himself said, when he found out Lewis was partnering Alonso, he felt for Alonso.

Isn't it funny how Lewis has progressed backwards without Ron's influence in the team.

As for Massa, he beat Kimi for a season and a half, and a few times in 2007 as well, so lets not call it an off-season


why people always compare bad cars to dogs? Dogs are very good!

Ferrari is a horse of a car in 2012....or better....Ferrari is a Luca of a car in 2012!


LOL....mr Monteprezzemolo will not like this statement at all......;-)


:0 very good


Completely agree with what you said. It just shows the quality of the driver that is Alonso. Vettel is far from the likes of Alonso, Button, Schumacher, Rosberg, Raikkonen and even Hamilton.


I think the truth is that almost any of the current F1 drivers could become wdc if they had a perfect car to their disposal suited to their driving styles. But, to achieve this you need to have your team 100% behind you, which is something a certain Michael S was (is?) very good at.


Even Hamilton?[mod] For what it's worth, try Alonso's assessment of Hamilton's relative talent last season - the only driver capable of winning with a second-best car (under normal track conditions, I guess). Unfair to himself, but shows the respect.

Vettel is a fine driver who's still seriously raw around the edges, in my view. Hamilton's rookie year and 2008 was more impressive since he had to challenge Alonso and the Ferrari's from the start and showed more all-round skills, even with the bad racing decisions at times. Vettel needs to improve his racing from back on the grid, but to be fair, he's shown some classy and very brave maneouvres last season and this. But he's clearly now at a very low confidence level, seemingly lost just now without the downforce and diffuser system he had in previous years, and with Mark Webber beating him fairly convincingly. It'll take a while to readjust for sure.


Well to be fair Vettel did do very well at Toro Rosso, and has a very decent pace. But his overall psychology/mentality is not the same like Senna or Schumacher, who are able to handle pressure much better. I think Alonso is in the Senna, Schumacher, Prost, etc., category though.


To "hero_was_senna", you are correct, Schu did made mistakes, but before Senna's crash, he was beating Senna. Maybe that was the reason for Senna's crash, because he pushed that Williams (according to Hill) well over the limit to try to beat Schumacher.

Senna's untimely death was a pity, and would have loved to see more races between him and Schumacher. The same as with Schumacher now, the younger generation do not make way like Prost did. If Prost was not the gentleman he is, maybe Senna would have won less WDC's.


No, no. Please don't confuse unsportsmanlike behavior with inability to excel/extract the best out of a poor car/poor situation. Schumacher-I was a bit of an *expletive* no doubt.

He was a cold-hearted *expletive* yes, but he could definitely handle the pressure of the media and team's expectations. Those decisions you say he made, all of them were all premeditated, conscious decisions motivated by the will to win at-all-costs. Yes, unfair but not a lack of self-confidence.

Nonetheless, the 1998 and 2003 events aside, to say that he deliberately broke his own leg in 1999, Sir? Do I need to point out how stupid it sounds?


Another biased comment, AGAIN! Yeah, 91 wins came all by chance and sheer luck... Oh, btw, 1991 was Schumacher's FIRST year in F1 (and was not even full season), so it's kind of normal for a rookie driver not to know how to handle the pressure, isn't it?

Perhaps you forgot how Senna drove into Prost in 1990 and the cult radio to Massa "Fernando is faster than you, can you understand that message..."

Bottom line, every single driver (I mean champion) has been favoured once in a while in his career. But this has always been part of the game in F1.


[mod] I was there when Schumacher broke his leg - I watched it happen. Neither Irvine nor pressure had anything to do with it!


When was Schumacher able to handle pressure? Showed in his whole career in F1 able to push the limits of a car, great team leader, could drive dog of a car into winner state, great strategist-determination.

1991 Macau was controversial

1994 not all agree about Schumacher drove into Hill one of is Murray Walker

1999??? being beaten by Irvine it was the other way around mate, your imagination running high at this one

2003 whatsoever he won the 6th WDC by outscored all the contender

Funny isn't all the drivers in F1 made mistakes? The difference is Schumacher special skill already been spotted from the first day he enter F1 and consider one of the greatest.

And Speaking about Senna and Alonso rate, you must forgot about the 2007 Mclaren and Renault and Ferrari day about Alonso mentality. And Senna also made mistakes one of Prost-Senna remember? and Senna was consider one the ruthless driver anyway to me Senna is one of the great as well as Schumacher and don't want to follow your one sided view


Hero was Senna, what about the stuff like Barcelona 96 where he made that lemon 4 secs faster than the rest and many races like that? But then everyone knows you are far too biased


I couldn't let this pass.... Pressure?

2000 Japanese Grand Prix

2006 Brazillian GP

2006 Imola

1996 Spain

1994 Imola

1991 Spa

1997 Argentina

I love Senna, but you forget him deliberately crashing into Prost... I have no patience for Schuey bashing.


When was Schumacher able to handle pressure?

1991, drove into Hakkinen in Macau because he would have been beaten

1994, hit a wall and then drove into Hill

1997, drove into Villeneuve

1998, stalled at the Japanese GP

1999, couldn't take being beaten by Irvine and broke his leg (whatever Ferrari said about a bleed nipple on the brakes!)

2003, Japanese GP just about finished 8th to win

Ultimately, Schumacher needed to win before the last race otherwise he made mistakes

For all these reasons and the fact of his subserviant team-mates, I wouldn't rate him anywhere near Senna, nor Alonso


and even hamilton?the same driver who alonso couldnt beat.lewis is one of the top 3 drivers in f1.


2007 seem to be never ending story here ....


People are clutching at straws when they say Hamilton beat Alonso when they were team-mates. Hamilton was favoured by the team, but that aside it was the closest result between team-mates in years. For all real purposes it was as much of a tie as you could possibly have in F1.


I think the 2010/2011 seasons strongly suggest that Alonso beat Hamilton, even with a slower package at his disposal. In 2007, Alonso had no support within the team for the whole second part of the season, hence the final standings you seem to know very well.


Actually Alonso was screwed over by Ron, last year he beat Hamilton whilst driving a slower car.


Yeah, those two world championships in his early twenties were probably a fluke.


I wouldn't call 2011 a fluke. Yes he had the dominant car but he made full use of it, something that Webber never truly got to grips with.

2010, I believe he was exceptionally lucky. He hadn't led the WDC till Ferrari's strategy error, otherwise we'd have been saluting Alonso's 3rd championship.

Joe, I disagree with your statement. Vettel may not be in Alonso's class, and maybe potential wise, Hamilton is a better driver if he can harness his ability properly, but Schumacher is not the driver he once was. As for your mention of Rosberg, it did make me laugh..


Sorry, that last comment was replied in the wrong box


It's one thing to suggest Vettel might not be the next Schumacher (and i think even that's premature as they have only done 2 races anyway) but it's a bit silly to say that all of a sudden he's not as good as all those drivers (Vettel has more WCs than Rosberg has pole positions!) - and I am not definitely NOT a Vettel fan.


No they were a very well put together car to suit him! so why is he so far off the boil then genius? even comparing to his ageing medium quality team mate??? Its all about 1 man and what ever he is or is not doing Newey!!


The championships weren't a Fluke, he was supreme with the machinery at his disposal. I assume that what Kevin and Joe meen is that they were well deserved and they hope he has dedicated both of them to Adrian Newey in his acceptance speeches at the awards ceremony.


Woo! This was a great qualifying for me for two reasons, apart from it being a close race in general. The first is that Sebastian Vettel is showing his true worth. [mod]
My second reason is that I took a 1:11 bet on Rosberg taking pole. Sweet. Prediction for the race, I think Mercedes will get one podium place, and I'm guessing Raikkonen might get on the podium also, assuming no rain. The most interesting thing for me will be seeing how good the Sauber is, I have a feeling their car is better than its made out to be, particularly in race trim. It'll be sad watching Alonso and Massa driving that dog of a Ferrari, and I think the Williams might actually overtake them in the race. I am doing a rain dance, come on, why not?


I think the ferrari is actually respectable in terms of race pace


I agree. On the first two races Ferrari showed a decent race pace and Aonso has not been overtaken by any piece of junk...


That was such a weird quali. 3 tenths between the top ten in Q2, yet 1.5 seconds in Q3, and 7 tenths just between Kobayashi in 4th and his team mate in 8th.

It seems the times set at the end of Q3 can't be compared to those at the start because of the track cooling, so even though Rosberg's lap was extraordinary I guess the gap to first was so big because he was only really up against Schumacher and Hamilton in the first run. (Who else was on track? There was somebody else I think). On the other hand I think Kobayashi set his time at the end.

So it was a difficult session to understand. It gave a grid that makes for a great race tomorrow though.


OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!!

Why the heck would the FIA even dream of changing the 2012 regs after today's edge of the seat qualifying ---> Doesn't make any sense.

I mean how can the top 11 drivers in Q2 be separated by a mere 3 tenths ---> Incredible!!!

Congrats to Mercedes & Rosberg for securing their first pole position since the 50s, this is the sort of result this team needed to keep in the sport for a couple more seasons

Also very good work by the likes of Kobayashi, Kimi & Alonso they definitely stood up to be counted

As for our Lewis, it's a shame about the penalty but looking at the grid now, it sure looks like a blessing in disguise for the midfield battle is setting up to be insane with Jenson, Webber, Hammy, Alonso and Vettel all in the same vicinity.

Now, I still can't get over the shock of all shocks of a certain Vettel all the way down in 11th place surely we must have accidentally entered the 4th dimension or something.

Meanwhile a shout out goes out to Massa for pulling up his socks for 3 tenths off the most complete driver deserves a pat on the back

Alright now, prediction time

Seeing as this race track is like a wild horse i.e. doesn't like getting tamed especially by one pilot, I would say we gonna have a new winner like we have always done since it first appeared on the Calendar in 2004

Unfortunately for Mercedes, they still haven't got over their tyre issues so I give this race to Kobayashi for yes, the Universe wants to put right, what should have happened in Malaysia = Kobayashi for the Ferrari seat













Mate, hope you're right.


Kobayashi forever!! Go you little ninja!

JackFlash (Aust)

Love your excitement GoFeret. I feel it too! Looking forward to the race tomorrow.. a lot. Expecting more of the unexpected.

PS: Re "accidentally entering the 4th Dimension"... er, not so much. We live in a reality with 4 macroscopic dimensions (3 of dims space + 1 of time), and if you subscibe to String Theory (which I don't), then possibly another 8 subatomic dimensions on top of that to bring a total to 12. I think you are excited to possibly be shunted into an 'alternative reality' (a parallel universe experience). Come back to us in time for Race Start tomorrow man! JF


How can you *not believe in String Theory?


I take your point to be that String Theory is not like fairies or god in that the theory itself has no physical existence that you need to accept without evidence. Therefore since JackFlash knows that the String Theory model exists, belief is not relevant.

However, if you understand some of the physics, but not all of it, you can to a degree use gut feel/intuition to believe that the theory is a good model for reality. Similarly, you can believe that something in experimental physics will be found in the future that will show the theory to be incorrect.

If we were to pull apart the grammar of every post, then it drown the site. Still it does lead to some interesting side discussions.

JackFlash (Aust)

I prefer the Subspace Condensate postulate. It is a theory which doesn't have to make up all these new 8 subatomic dimensions just to make the Math work out (i.e String Theory)

String Theory just appears way too self-convoluted in math-solution. If there is one thing about our Reality that appears fundamentally true, it is that Elegance and Simplicity of solution is the apparent touchstone of Truth. A popularised theory ST may be, but that in itself doesn't make it automatically right..... IMO. JF


not enough evidence?


@ JackFlash (Aust)

Aah yes, parallel Universe it is and what's this I see, there's a possible 8 additional subatomic dimensions out there ---> Blasphemy.

Okay mate, see you in the Cosmos then ---> In Shanghai to be exact.


Can we stop the myth that the Mercedes is overly hard on it's tyres. It's looking more to be a case of it being very sensitive to set up/track conditions and could go either way with excessive ware (like Australia) or not using them hard enough (like Malaysia).

Anyway, excellent performance from Rosberg, stunning lap. Kobayashi was also very impressive.


Except the free practice lap times show that the Merc dropped to 2 seconds off the pace after 4 laps on a new set of tyres.


Hmm - I'm thinking of egg and faces right now 🙂


Yea I look pretty silly now 🙂

Though to be fair, the free practice times *did* show that, and Brawn himself said after the race that the car has a very narrow sweet spot with the tyres. Let's hope they can put in a decent (but not too good! :)) performance in Bahrain. If they can, we could be in for a very exciting championship



As long as we all bear in mind that they can't use their double DRS to such good effect in the race and thus their race pace will be much slower than in Quali.


But will it?. The way I saw it - the biggest part of Rosberg's lap was sector 2. Twisty and requires downforce....


Congratulation to Nico and Mercedes 1st pole since takeover from Brawn GP..


N. Rosberg- interview about his racing preparation



James, I beat your simulation with four stops, laps 10, 20, 30 and 40 starting on softs and switching to mediums at the last stop. Just waiting for Ross Brawn to offer me a job now...


Did you use lots of new soft tyres, like the drivers don't have available because they used them in quali??


I 3 stopped, for used options on L13 & L26 (I used them all in qualifying...) & new primes on L39 (I had a spare set from Q2 😀 ) and beat JAonF1 by 3 seconds. Look out Jenson...


I put the prime in the first stop, lap 16, then a new option set in lap 36. It seems much better than a three stoper. Would it be optimal to be in the prime with full tanks and leave the options for a lighter car James?


One could fit too the hardest compound in boths stops, it's faster in the sim than the used option.


Starting tyre outside the top ten will be interesting. For Vettel for example. The gap between option and prime has fluctuated this weekend. We saw some strange changes between Q2 and Q3 today as the conditions became cooler.

Andreas Myrberg

Vettel did not use a new set of softs in Q2, like Webber did. Bad strategy, but tomorrow he should be fine.

Vettel did 1m36.0 3 times with old softs, where Webber did 1m36.29 with old softs 0.5 slower then his Q2 time with new softs. Vettel has fresh tires for tomorrow then we see what happens. In anyway, it will be exiting 😀


You should be the one buying us a US lottery ticket!


Hopefully we will again see different drivers on the podium but I afraid none of the Merc drivers will be among them. Let's see if Ross Brawn has found a solution to their tyre problems.


Very nice grid. Certainly was always going to be one of Mercedes best tracks for a pole, but Rosberg really pulled something out of the bag.

I think Hamilton will be the man with the pace in the race though. I'd be surprised if Mercedes can win it; their bonus DRS effect will have been stronger here than in the previous races, so I don't think they'll be able to romp away. It's Kobayashi who's the dark horse for me in terms of the car but Raikkonen as a driver could be the one to snatch the win. Should be good.


Like Vettel, Alonso is vastly over rated, Massa managed twelfth, but he is so bad he is about to be sacked I thought ?


Obviously you have not watched F1 for so many years... Unlike Vettel, Alonso have never driven a dominant car/package. Still, he is double w champion and was beating the likes of M Schumacher to world champion, back when likes of Vettel were still in carting.


+1 thats better!!


Renault 2005, and 06 not dominant? At least half of the season, dominant and the rest half more reliable.

Oh and if McLean 2007 wasn't the best car I dunno which car is


@Quattro_T LOL don't you think it is a bit simplistic to define dominant car by just the number of pole positions. In 2010 Vettel suffered loads of unreliability problems just like Kimi did in 2005.

"More so, the Mclaren was considered to be the FASTER package. How do you get the Renault to be dominant if it is not fastest??? "

lol when you have a slower but more reliable car that allows you win without contest, that means you have a dominant car, you [mod].

In 2005 and 06 Renault was the best package, it was either faster or more reliable when it was slower (which means it allows you to win without contest).

In 2006, Schumacher had more car problems then Alonso - Fact.

Oh as for Vettel 2011, if that car was that dominant why Weber struggled? May be it was a case of who understand the tyres more? How did you jump the conclusion with limited info?In 2005 and 06 Fisi managed a few poles and wins.

"Still, he is double w champion and was beating the likes of M Schumacher to world champion, back when likes of Vettel were still in carting."

I am not a Vettel fan, but I am fairly objective and I think Alonso is one of the best ever which is a fact. But you could argue that Vettel beat 3 world champions (Alonso, Lewis, and Jenson) while suffering more reliability problems in 2010.


[mod]Define dominant please. Look at the pole and race win statistics from 2012 and you will get my definition of Dominant Package. If I recall correctly no other car but a redbull got pole position. From pole the RB drivers would basically cruise uncontested to victory. Ferrari were even slower than Mclaren (marginally in 2010 and much slower in 2011), and hence more affected by this. Alonso still arrived at Abu Dabi in 2010 as WC (remember?), until Ferrari GIFTED the title to Vettel. If you imagine Vettel driving the 2010 Ferrari and Alonso the 2010 RB - I think the odds for Vettel to achieve what Alonso did with that Ferrari would be very very...high.

RB had mastered the "secrets" of the EBD, which gave them a big technical advantage against everyone else hence the domination.

Yes, Renault 2005 and 06 not dominant (refer to RB7 stats for dominant definition)! Both years two teams were very evently matched => no dominant team exists IMO.

Now take a look at statistics from 2005. Poles and race wins were evently distributed between Alonso and Raikkonen. That directly contradicts your statement regarding Renault domination in 2005 (again compare to RB 2011). More so, the Mclaren was considered to be the FASTER package. How do you get the Renault to be dominant if it is not fastest??? Last but not least, at the end of 2005 only 11 constructor points differed Renault from Mclaren, again confirming my point that both packages were very evently matched over the course of the season without any part dominating the other.

More or less the same as for 2005, only this time Ferrari and Schumacher formed the opposition.
(1) Wins were evently distributed between the two drivers
(2) constructor points also evently distributed between the two teams


Agree - Massa is great and results of last few seasons have proved that. This season is no difference - he has plenty of points already, compared to overrated Alonso.


Love this kind of irony!

JackFlash (Aust)

It is Sarcasm.

Irony is something else.


This sets it up so nicely for tomorrow, I can't remember a more unpredictable result from the starting line up. Presuming the Mercedes go backwards, it's then hard to pick between Raikkonen, Kobayashi and the McLarens, and even then Schumacher is not an easy man to pass.

I'm going for Kimi, then both McLarens, although I don't know in which order. The other thing is, although the last session did get colder, we've had a relatively straightforward qualifying and we're still no closer to knowing who the championship frontrunners are, with acres of in-season development to come. It's just too tight to call!


With DRS on this circuit Schumacher has no chance at all - even if he's a hell of a guy to overtake.


Let's hope Schumacher doesn't get up to any of his old dirty tricks.


He won't, no worries! Good old fashioned racing has been banned in today's Formula-1. You won't get it back.

It started when they made lapping a no-brainer when they introduced the waved blue flag and just starting with this season they have put into the regulations that defensive moves are unwanted.


Yes, Schumacher really is so hard to overtake hen he's blocking, making multiple moves, and ppushing you off the track.

But I think they made up a new rule to prevent that kinda thing.


Vettel will be there watch the red bulls on race day


I should hope he's there on race day, he is being paid to drive the thing... 😀

It's so close amongst the whole top ten I really struggle to see him getting into contention; short of Webber and team orders there's not one easy pass for him in there (at least until the Merc tires go off). On top of that the RBR doesn't have a good top speed at all, which will really open both Vettel and Webber up to attack from DRS-enabled cars.

I think it's the same for McLaren, they won't waltz to the front either. Both the Lotus and the Sauber have shown genuine race pace so far this season and they're in the best starting positions.

I love how qualifying has set-up this race, it's shaping up to be a thriller!


Congratulations to Nico & Merc. Really happy for him (long overdue).

Good luck to Lewis. I think 5 place drop for gearbox is steep. They should just take points of Constructors and not penalise the driver. I feel this way regardless of driver on receiving end. I just hope Lewis can avoid trouble and put in a performance his talent promises.

Hoping for Nico to win followed by Hamilton. I am a fan of a number of drivers with Hamilton being my favourite. I think Nico is due a win.

Well done also to Kamui and Kimi.

Anyone know if Button had issues as he is not normally 0.5 second slower than Hamilton?


They chose to take the penalty, a gearbox blow up is steeper.


Its funny how the gearbox/engine rule has been around for a few years now but there hasn't been comment until it effects Hamilton...


He struggled with set up over the weekend, but seemed on top of it today. I think it's just that he went out later in Q3 after the track temperature had dropped significantly, whilst Hamilton's time was set at the start of the session.


Thanks to both replies.


" I think 5 place drop for gearbox is steep."

I'd agree with you, but it's the kind of rule you cannot change during the season. One for next year, maybe ?

Button lost out by making his one run late rather than early in Q3 - the track (unusually) got slower

You'll notice Hamilton couldn't improve on his first time in P3, even though it was set on scrubbed options and his second run was on brand new ones.


Nice job by Sebastian Vettel showing why he is the best driver in the world. He'll need all ten fingers and a cucumber to show P11 to the camera today.


Ah, but it takes a lot of effort and precission and even some crystal balling to be able to drive precisely as fast as needed to end up in P11! It's P1 of the unrestricted tactics positions. He's good he is.


Haha 😀 Very funny!

We're all set for a great race with Hamilton and Vettel out of position.




Now that was a good one!


Indeed, all those contributors who voted him top driver in the poll on here last year are conspicuous by their absence!

I think you need 5 years of sample size with a driver being in slow and fast cars and a few teammates to accurately give a judgement.




LOL!! I love it!!


Hi James,

Are you sure about Webber et al having a new set of options ? Didn't most that group use two sets in Q2, which meant they could only do one Q3 run anyway ?

If Grosjean can stay out of trouble, then two clean sets of the softer tyre might give him a very interesting race.

What is very clear from the qualifying is just how sensitive the performance of this year's tyres is to the track condition. Much more so than last year.


While I´m sure there´ll be a good amount of Vettel bashing, I´m quite sure the kid´s very good, but I can´t say I´ll miss all his finger waving with a car that whatever others might say was absolutely dominant, head and shoulders above the rest. Now Vettel has the opportunity to hone a lot of skills which he didn´t the opportunity when he was flying from pole, he should relish the opportunity, as well as the humbling down, seeing as his teammate does not suffers he does from this year´s specification.

It´s also good that a lot of cars are within competition: this will give an opportunity of plenty of drivers stealing from each other until a clear picture emerges (and Ferrari and Alonso must be definitely thanking a higher order of things for that). McLaren and Hamilton are the one´s to beat, but if they don´t make for a head start pronto, they might find the race pace advantage they undoubtedly have vanishes without them capitalizing. Anyway, great start of the season.


I feel the same.


Will Mercedes manage to finish in points tomorrow?


The advantage of having a new and unused set of tires will be an advantage only if it is used properly and if the team and a driver gets it right. You can have all the tires in the world if you like but if the circumstances and team work are not OK, then the advantage is minimal. Of course, it is better to have that than not.

It will be interesting to see for how long the grid will be this close and for how long some of the teams will be able to keep up in the development race.



Is there an explanation for Ferrari being within 0.3 of a sec from first in Q2, and then in Q3 being behind for 1.5 sec?


Good question...

I was thinking maybe Alonso set his time on Q3 on a used set of softs or the track was so much cooler that Q2 or simply the lap was just not good enough.


This result must remind Schumacher of his last win, China 2006. It was Michelin tyres all in the top 10, except for Schumi in 6th, with everyone saying he would be swallowed up by the other Michelins once the race started. But instead of getting swallowed up, he went on to take what I consider his best ever win.

Well done to Nico, but just because he is due a win doesn't mean he has what it takes to get one, even from where he sits. Nick Heidfeld was due a win for a long time too... and see how well that worked out for him!


Thanks for reminding, it was amazing feeling when he overtook two Renualts


The race is on.... How long has it been that we could say that? Wow!


3 weeks?

A long three weeks!


It's been a long long time since we have seen so many competitive teams all vying for the front, with truly realistic chances. Malaysia was not an intentionally competitive race, but simply organized chaos. It was far from planned, let's put it that way; while we can honestly say China's outcome so far has been thoroughly planned out by the competitors. Isn't it great when a plan comes together!


Congratulations Rosberg! It's been long time coming.

It was obvious from first Quali session in Melbourne that if he gets it together he is a serious pole contender. Seems even his teammate was very impressed by the pole lap.

Shame that it's unlikely that he will keep 1st position very long. Mercedes isn't likely to have fixed degredation issues over 3 weeks, even Rosberg himself has said so. I also hope Schumacher gets a "normal" day tomorrow so we can guage how the teammates cope with the said degredation.

Anyway I predict the Mclarens to fight for the win. Button seemed to have a problem with the tyres though, didn't he? If it's wet or moist I fear it will be Malaysia all over again.


Notes to moderator. Why did you remove that comment? [mod]



James A, from the data collected through FP2 and FP3. From the top 11 drivers, how do their race simulated projected lap times compare?

The word on the street is that LH seemed comfortably quicker and more consistent than his direct opposition.

Do you have a recommended link or upload that highlights drivers race simulated lap times?

The race should be a classic tomorrow as I see the Mercs pull away initially at the start but then hauled in a handfull of laps later. Having the likes of Kobayashi and Kimi in the top 6 will not allow an individual to really make too much headway and break away. I see the top 8 drivers staying pretty close together at least until after the first round of stops. I also think teams will use the undercut to gain ground if overtaking proves difficult.

Another interesting feature is that the saubers are nearly 10kmh quicker through the speed trap than the Mercedes, McLarens and Lotus


Go to fia.com and look at the Chinese GP banner and click Timing information to find FP2 laps


Hi James. I noticed that the Mercedes are way down the table in the speed trap, with Sauber being top. This must mean Mercedes are using lots of downforce and negating the impact of this with their Super Drs front and rear wing. They are not the fastest on the straights by a long shot, but the DRS allows them to run more downforce/drag.


What is shocking for me, still...is the situation at Ferrari. How is this possible that the car is so bad with all resources they have?

Another season lost....what is next? I think Alonso will stay for one more year because it is not yet clear where he needs to be next year, but if next year he is not going to fight to the title, I think he will be out.

Massa....I am sorry for him, but this is the end...

Still....Massa is not the biggest problem, it is the car.


ferrari looked good to me today,alonso was inside 3 tenths from merc in q2,even massa was tenth or 2 from alonso.


well nice!

Mercs will not fade out quickly tomorrow, but the race will be long. Button will be p3 after lap 1 and pass the Mercs probably the first soon and the second somewhere mid race. Schu will just out drive rosberg in the end. He will also hold up Hamilton, as everyone knows that Ham cannot pass schu quickly. Check last year for examples. Ham will be p5 or p4 after lap1. So The podium will be JB LH MS or a button a ham and a shoe. A good question goes for Kobayashi, Raikonnen and the rest. I think that Kimi in his third race will finally become more aggressive and pass Kobayashi so kimi will be fourth and kobayashi fifth.

But then again if the temperatures turn out low... Macs might fall out of the tyre working window again. And the Mercs will probably fell out of their not working door. So Kimi will win. Koba will be second and Alonso a podium finisher extending his championship lead.

But then again temperatures might be high at the beginning and then low so... this might leave button first and Kimi second.

But then again there might be a safety car, in which case I predict Massa leading the race at one point, but finally being passed by Maldonado for his maiden win.


Since Schumi can no longer swerve all over the track to block overtaking, he may not be as difficult for Lewis to get past this year. Besides, I seem to remember Lewis passing all over the track at Shanghai last year.

It's shaping up to be a really interesting race. I hope the rain holds off, as I want to see what the real championship picture looks like. One thing's for sure, it's going to be close. 0.3 seconds separating 10th from first in Q2 is just incredible.


Lol excellent... If all of you predictions happen get in touch on here and I'll pay for you to attend the race of your choice this year!


I doubt JB has the pace to win this race or even make it onto the podium. My prediction is Hamilton, Raikonnen and Kobayashi on the podium. The sinking feeling for JB!


You must have a great crystal ball! Lol smh

Grayzee (Australia)

Hello James ( and Fellow F1 Fans)

I'm not suspicious or anything, but does anyone know what Rosberg was adjusting when he put his left hand down beside his knee. The onboard camera footage showed he did this several times during the lap. Brake bias, perhaps? I thought all the bias switches were on the steering wheel, these days.

Any ideas?

Grayzee (Australia)

Thanks guys! Great feedback. I didn't know that the Brake bias had to be mechanical.....and I thought I knew everything about F1!! 🙁 ...........


Brake bias adjustment is restricted to a mechanical linkage only, to prevent any back door route to ABS.


For some reason the rules specify that the brake bias control has to be a mechanical lever, so they can't put it on the steering wheel with the other controls.


A lot of drivers do that, even in Schumacher's first career as well.

Alonso, Raikkonen do this as well, if you actually notice.


The Speed TV commentators were saying that brake bias can only be adjusted mechanically per the rules,.o the adjustment can't be on the steering wheel because that would make it digital.


Really pleased for Merc and Nico (would have quietly loved another Michael pole thought it must be said).

Great headlines today, only problem is, if they go backwards as expected its going to look quite embarrassing if they finnish 5th or worse...especially after Rosberg got a podium there in 2010.


I do hope one of the Mercedes and Kimi will fight for win tomorrow. That will make 2012 more exciting.


indeed tell that to the team who cant make up his strategy to save themselves....possibly the worst strategy choice I have seen in the last 10 years....



In the last bit of the article you say Button saved a set of new tyres for the race, i thought that he had to use a new set of softs for Q1 whereas lewis did not and therefore thats why he did not do two runs.


He only did a gentle outlap on to scrub them, as far as I know. As did Hamilton at the end of Q3


Button said in an interview that the plan was do go out and do another timed lap on those tyres.


He had not intended to

Pit » BUT: "He had his engine fired, he was going to go."

8 minutes ago

Button: "Did you not realise that Lewis wasn't going to go?

Interesting pit wall conversation indicates he was shadowing Hamilton and was sent at end of Q2 when they heard Hamilton’s car being fired up. Looks like Hamilton did not go out after all as they decided that it was not necessary but Button’s engineers had already sent him out so he ended up using up a set before he got to Q3.

Very interesting to see team dynamics and the amount of attention paid by the other side of the garage (Wonder what Prew’s role is amongst all of this). Anyhow Button had only the one set left so waited for a Q3one run which ended up being at the wrong time.

It must be mentioned that Lewis set his time on used softs (unlike Button who ran on brand new) and was going faster on his aborted run albeit not fast enough to challenge for pole- so it was still an impressive difference in times even if the conditions for Button were not favourable.

Also Lewis’ tyres are already compromised so would be nice if Mclaren strategy does not leave out to hang again.



Jenson scrubbed a set of soft tyres in Q1 but didn't do a hot lap. Then in Q2 he did 2 hot laps on that scrubbed set and another new set. In Q3 he therefore just did 1 run at the end which was a hot lap on his final new set of tyres, so he did use all 3.

Hamilton meanwhile did a hot lap in Q2 then scrubbed a set at end of Q2 but didn't do a hot lap on them. He then did his first hot lap in Q3 on that scrubbed set but then aborted his final run.

So Hamilton has a set of soft tyres that haven't done a hot lap, but he started on a set that got scrubbed then did a hot lap.


That was a great qualifying today. I cannot remember the last time that the starting top five on the grid featured none of the top 3 team drivers.

Maybe a win for a Sauber or Kimi tomorrow? It would be a great outlook for a mighty championship battle this year.


Well maybe now it's time to consider Rosberg as part of the big boys =)


it's not only the first MERCEDES pole since their return to F1 in 2010 as "constructors"

it's the first pole for the SILVER ARROWS since 1955

the win tomorrow might go to McLaren, but for Mercedes this is an important sign that they are on track and will stay committed to F1 in foreseeable future


Tell that to toyota who locked out the front row bahelrain 2009. I wouldnt be so sure.


Vettel 11th! LOL! Put him in an average car and he looks, well, average!


Keeping things in perspective, he was 0.4 seconds off the top time in Q2, and only 49msecs off making Q1. That kind of difference would have put him 2nd or 3rd last year. It's just really close this year. He also may have made a mistake selecting the original pre-season exhaust layout, unless it turns out to be faster in the race.

I'm far from being a fan of the finger-man, and thought he acted like a spoiled brat after chopping across the front of Narain's car at the last race, but I'm not ready to count him out yet. Full credit to Mark for stepping up his game this season though. This year is definitely going to test Seb's character.

Kamui may be the guy to beat tomorrow though. This year is shaping up to be an all-time classic.


Yes I think it proves that it was the car not the driver. Vettel is good, but no better than any of the other top drivers.


+ infinite 😀


haha, came here to say that!


Any news on the weather front for tomorrow, James?


Hi James,

Vettel's performance today brings to mind an interview I saw with Webber earlier this season where he said last years car (with EBD's) was the odd year out and this year we are back to 'normal'. Do you think last years dominance by Vettel was purely because he best adapted to what as a very different feel to the cars for one year only and the Red Bull wasn't as clear as the field as he made it seem?

Loving this season though, all so close can only make for much more interesting races and results!



I think Mark also struggled to come to grips with the new tires last year, but was starting to figure them out towards the end of the season.


I think he had a more dominant car in 2010 but wasn't as mature as last year. But also yes he had a way of driving the EBD car that Webber couldn't match.


Surely "webber is faster than you" will appear in Vettels ear this season !


Well driving the EBD car was essentially a PlayStation car to Vettel in 2011.


James is Kamui getting any attention from the top teams yet? He deserves a Lotus at least come on!..


FANTASTIC !! -- This is what we needed to de-focus Bahrain 😉

James - Your simulator is brilliant. I have thrashed you, even staying clear of you in pitstops. New options at lap14, new primes at lap27, and new primes again at lap41. I don't think I have to pass you ontrack anywhere.

Hope you can build some other factors into the simulator - like a rain period? Really - thanks for that - so much fun!

Roll on the real race - it's going to be a cracker!!! Please - no 1st corner pile-up....


If Sauber's car performs like it does in Malaysia (on a cool track). I would put some money on Kobayashi for win/ podium, the odds are very good indeed.


I think the intersting thing is Red Bull running two different spec cars, Webber on the newer ( could I make that the newer Newey car!!) regarding pods/exhausts and Vettel on the older version of pods/exhausts.

Obviously Red Bull are diluting their efforts on each car now and not sure which way to go although Newey has got a good idea ie the new way and Vettel does not like it ironically.

I wonder if Mark Webber said he preferred the old version would Red Bull have pandered to him or told him Seb makes it work, get on with it. Bit of a reversal in the team, remember the front wing fiasco.

Is this a sign of Vettel feeling the pressure and Webber starting to eclipse his team mate this season.


Tornillo Amarillo

Rosberg can be in the podium because he is very focused. Also Schumi.

And Kobashashi because the car is working really good.

I think that Kimi can surprise and win, he is the one there.

Button of course has all to be in the podium, probably 2nd.

In qualy Hamilton did 2nd fastest time and he is upbeat, so he can be 3rd in the race realistically.

So, according with my predictions, at the end of this race the podium will be more crowded than usual.


Does anyone know if Hammy saved at set of Option Tyres for the race, Thanks?


I think Rosberg is in for a good shout for the win. If my memory serves me correct wasnt he winning the race for a while last year, before having to do some major fuel saving?


I agree with all of you people, what a nice grid. Nevertheless, I hope we won’t witness a bad start, since there would be to much ego loaded at turn 1 and very tight turn 2 from cars positioned in grid places No 2,4,5,7 and 9. If we consider Alonso is doing great starts, Webber bad starts, Hamilton average, Perez would be swallowed and thus Alonso would eventually turn side by side with Hamilton, imagine what the cars in front of them might be up to at the same time. I ‘m looking forward though for a clean start, should that happen the race would be very interesting and unpredictable too, considering the close times from Q2 and odd, alien merc times in Q3. On the development front, it seems Ferrari is doing it better than the others, till now that is.


Wow! Conrats to Nico. I've been waiting for this for a long time. 1/2 a second is remarkable.

As a RBR fan I'd love to say "look out for Seb" but I think he's down in the turn 1, turn 2, lap 1 crash zone. It will be interesting to see what tyres he starts on. Webber did well here last year? from about 18th or so on the grid. I would expect Seb to go at least that well if he can survive the first lap or 2. Lewis looked good in quali and interviewed beautifully. Webber was a bit of a surprise. After Q2 I had high hopes of a front row for him. Such is life. He's outqualified Seb 3-0 now. Thats gotta make him feel good. I'm guessing that was Koba's best quali to date? Well done to him and the team. Jenson, as always is there or thereabouts and should do well. Good to see Schumi outqualify Kimi. Now he's just gotta out race him 😉

I'm tipping Jenson, Kimi & Webber.


What a fantastic qualifying session!

Especially what a perfect lap from Rosberg. The confidence to step out of the car with minutes to go after doing one flying lap was amazing to watch.

Also very pleased for Kobayashi - having been overshadowed recently. What a way to respond by starting 3rd tomorrow and underlines just how good a car Sauber have.

Edouard Valentine

Hi James,

Did Button mention how hard it was to get front grip due to the lowering track temps? I've been thinking about how the aerodynamic profile of this season's Pirellis works with the 12 different chassis designs. Would their profile suit some designs better than others? If so which team gets the best advantage do you think?

Grazie Mille



This is so brilliantly hard to call, because there are at least four cars which can win. I'm afraid I really cannot see the Mercedes replicating that pace over a race distance, which leaves it between the McLarens, Kobayashi and Raikkonen. As I've said before, the prospect of Hamilton vs Kobayashi vs Raikkonen is tantalising.

That's assuming it's a dry race. I think I heard it should be, but do you have any updates on that James?


All this talk of Vettel being an "average driver" and showing his "true worth" is ridiculous. No he is not an average driver but yes he is finding it difficult this year. Having been racing at the front for three straight years battling well behind the leading pack has undoubtedly come as a shock to him. Secondly though his poor quali result today you can almost certainly put down to his different car setup to Webber but unfortunately for Vettel it has turned out to be the wrong setup. Yes his true worth will be shown how he copes in a car that doesn't win races, something Schumacher and Alonso have displayed with immense skill. I'm confident he'll show that ability similar to what Schumacher and Alonso have done in the past (and in Alonso's case the present!).


I find it a little ridiculous people question the ability of a double world champion. One bad qualifying result and people jump on it like a dog in heat. Apparently it was a little hard for people to swallow vettel BEATING their favorite drivers last year the way he did. And the whole thing about his car just being better isn't even a good argument. Somehow I feel if others favorite drivers had his past season it would just be a testament to their driver ability and not the car at all.


I don't think people are necessarily questioning Vettel's ability...but as great as it is to have two WDCs, it's unrealistic to brush aside the fact that he had a great car which suited him + a team who is behind him.


Which world Champion hasn't had those 2 things?


Simply a case of conditions conspiring to slow other cars, and help Mercedes. All about getting the tyres as close as possible to their optimum temperature. We know the Mercs work their tyres more which made Nico's lap a possibility. Personally I think Nico has been very underated mainly because he did not have a decent car. That said I think in the race the Mercs will fall back as DRS will no longer help them, and as the tyre degradation bites them hard, and I expect the McLarens to come through the pack particularly. Still a very good lap from Nico though, and hope both Merc drivers can get some useful points


It really saddens me to see superficial comments on your blog James. I really think your blog is of the highest quality, but (some, like 10% of) the comments are sub-standard. Especially those blankly targeting drivers like Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton. These are the top 5 if not top 3 drivers in the world right now and each separated by minuscule 10th's of a second in vastly different machines. So, give some respect guys. Commend on the person winning the pole, race, championship... but based on a few average (relatively) outings don't deride their achievements. Its not Vettel's fault that EBD was in place in 2011 nor is it Alonso's fault that this year Ferrari is so off pace.

After all, its a sport and a lot depends on how a driver feels himself with the car, track, tires on Saturday and Sunday.

Enjoy the race!


Well said.


I agree and I'm getting tired of that 10% too. Time for a crackdown by Mod..


A few years ago, when I started following this blog, the comments you mention (10%) were non existing.

I always found it a place where die hard F1 fans gathered and shared their in depth opinion. At the moment, more and more comments are moving to the 'my favorite driver is the best' direction (which are useless comments to me and don't bring any added value).


Yes, like I said, they are going to be cut out now.




The penalty for changing a gear box is absurd.Penalise the car manufacturer ,in this case McLaren ,but not the driver.For instance take five points from them on their chase of the title. Lewis does not deserve to be back in 7th position.To me he is the DRIVER ,he is the one who sets the pace ,I hope he can regain positions and get a well deserved win in China.

JackFlash (Aust)

Both the constructor and the driver share responsibility for the operability of the car gearbox. The constructor in engineering and supply, the driver in treating it correctly in use (downshift demands etc).

The Penalty of five grid places penalises both the potential position to earn WDC (driver) and WCC (constructor) points in the Race. That seems fair to me, that they share Penalty. JF


Hamilton's penalty puts both Hamilton and Button the clean side (though the racing line hits both sides in a diagonal). Button in front of him, Alonso behind. The Merc's are fast starters, and so is Alonso. Grosjean's also there in P10, hopefully he keeps his nose clean and stays out of trouble.

Over/under for when the first car laps Karthikeyan? I'll say lap 16.

Hope it's a great race, like 2011!


Watch the the 40 year old tomorrow.... I think he manages his tyres better than Rosberg. Well done to Nico he deserves a good result! My money is on Schumacher tomorrow.


Hi James - following the qualifying results, I've been trying to fiddle around with your strategy calculator... however, I may be being silly, but I can't work out how the beginning tyres (new/old) are factored into the equation? (ie. top 10 mostly starting on 'used' versus the others)

What have I missed? 🙂


It assumes you start on used softs. So you select which tyre you want to take at 1st, 2nd etc stops


James, which side does pole start from?


Outside on racing line.


Thanks. It's going to be a fascinating first few corners with Schumi keen to undercut Nico.


The racing line actually goes right in between the first 2 grid spots apparently, so neither get an advantage.

Is this correct?


Vettel's now in that zone where you really prove your a champion. Easy to win when you have the best the car and qualify first but for me it is when the car is maybe the 2nd or 3rd fastest that you really prove your worth. Does one throw the toys out the pram? Moan down the radio about how bad the car is? Or simply get on with the job, drag the car into positions and places it has no right to be in?

Some drivers like Alonso driving his Ferrari, Schumacher driving the Benetton and Senna in 93's Mclaren show it can be done. Others like Jasque Villeneuve won in a Williams in 96, 97 then struggled in average cars. Will always remember Hakkinen in the European GP in 97. With tricky changeable conditions where it was wet one side of the track but dry in the other he couldn't cope and spent a good spell of the race cruising round. Then something like 10 laps to go realises that the car in front in 6th is a Minardi and bangs in fastest lap after fastest lap to catch it. Was like if he drove like that earlier might have scored some big points.


I always felt for this race that Mercedes would be quick over one lap, but I feel that McLaren will be quicker over a race distance, compared to Mercedes. In saying this, I feel that Mercedes will be much better in the race here than in previous races.


Sure he's got an even better feelsgood now!

Grats Rosberg... his teammate's misfortune (again) should not take away from what was a dominant win.

Merc has become a title contender now, although it's also possible the conditions were just right for Merc's tyre operating window. We'll see in scorching Bahrain in a week.

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