Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has gained his first pole position for the team ahead of the FIA Formula One 2013 Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow.
The Englishman will be in the driving seat leading the rest of the field as the race gets underway, in what will be just his third appearance for the new team this season since he left McLaren at the end of last year.
"Pole position is a great result for us today and to achieve it in my third race for the team is such a good feeling. I had to make sure the radio was off after my engineer told me I had pole because I was so excited! None of us expected this level of performance at this stage of the season and it's a real bonus," commented Hamilton.
Hamilton will be accompanied by Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen on the front row of the grid, after failing to catch the 2008 World Champion as the clock ticked down towards the end of Q3.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso completes the top three qualifying spots which surprisingly does not include Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel for the first time this season.
Hamilton’s team mate, Nico Rosberg also put in a solid performance for the Mercedes team. The German driver will line up on the grid alongside Alonso as he secured fourth place for himself.
Rosberg said of his final lap: "I made a small mistake at the last corner on my lap in Q3 which cost maybe a tenth and a couple of places. But I'm in a good position for the race and we've worked a lot on the race performance this weekend so I hope we can gain some places tomorrow."
Rosberg will be in Ferrari sandwich though as Alonso’s team mate, Felipe Massa did not manage to catch the top four in qualifying and will start the race from fifth place.
The shakeup in grid positions continues for the rest of the top 10. Raikkonen’s team mate Romain Grosjean appeared to quietly make his way into Q3 and will begin from sixth place.
Toro Rosso driver, Daniel Ricciardo was another of the midfield group who managed to get a good grid slot. The Australian pipped McLaren’s Jenson Button to seventh place as Q3 came to a close; however the Briton was on the medium compound tyres.
Said Button who ended 8th, “Our aim was to be the first Prime-tyre runner on the grid – even if it meant qualifying 10th – and we did that. This was the best we could do with what we have."
The shocking results following the chequered flag appear to demonstrate just how unpredictable the sport can be.
Vettel proved this to be the case as he did not set a time in the final part of qualifying to compete against his championship rivals. The reigning World Champion had to settle for ninth place as a result of this. He did go off track a bit which slowed the German down, and he was on the medium compound Pirelli tryres while others were utilizing the soft ones.
Prior to Vettel failing to fight for pole position, there was drama for the Red Bull team in Q2. Vettel’s team mate, Mark Webber suddenly came to a stand still during a lap in Q2 and he was forced to abandon his car at the side of the track.
There were reports via the team radio that his car had run out of fuel which caused him to make a swift exit from the session.
It has not yet been confirmed whether he will have a sufficient amount of fuel remaining for a sample to be taken as part of the procedures that take place after qualifying and prior to race day. As it currently stands, the Australian driver will begin the race from 14th place.
The final driver to make it into a top 10 qualifying slot was Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg. The German will line up next to his fellow country man, Vettel as the race gets the green light tomorrow.
The drivers beyond the top 10 fought against each other in Q1 and Q2 in order to take up the positions on the grid from 11th to 22nd place.
The sun may have been shining over the Shanghai circuit during qualifying but it seemed like there was a dark cloud lingering over the field, judging by the unexpected mix up in positions for the Grand Prix tomorrow and not everything going to plan for some drivers.
It appears that so far this season, Hamilton has not taken a back seat since switching to Mercedes and has demonstrated this with his consistent results in both qualifying and race performance.
Plus it is certain that he will strive to do the same in the race tomorrow and he will have every opportunity to convert his pole position into a race win.
Undoubtedly though, his closest rivals will be likely to put up a fight against him crossing the line first and there is the addition of several midfield drivers on the scene as well to make way for and exciting Grand Prix.