Qualifying for round 3 of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship was today held at the Shanghai International Circuit in China.
The biggest surprise of the session was that Mark Webber did not progress into the second session after qualifying 18th. The leader board changed several times after Vettel set the fastest time in the first round of qualifying laps in Q1. With the tyres degrading much quicker this year, the Red Bulls opted to save a set of their soft tyres for the race, a strategy that worked well enough for Vettel who finished 6th in Q1. The strategy did not pay off for Webber, who was already suffering with his KERS being disabled for qualifying after a reliability issue with the electrical wiring loom that is an integral part of the battery based system.
The other key result from Q1 was that all drivers lapped below the 107% qualifying time exclusion and therefore we will have all 24 cars on the starting grid for the second time this year. As expected, the others failing to progress to Q2 were the Lotus, Virgin and Hispania teams.
In Q2, Renault put themselves in a difficult situation, with Petrov stopping out on track and causing a red flag shortly after setting a time that placed him in 4th position at that point in time. Heidfeld had not set a time in the session and with only 2 minutes remaining in Q2 he had to put all his eggs in a single lap basket. Unfortunately, he could only manage to make it to P16 after sitting 7th in a very long queue of cars wanting to squeeze in a flying lap before the end of Q2.
Others not progressing to Q1 were Sutil, Perez, Kobayashi, Schumacher, Barrichello and Maldonado in another disappointing qualifying for Williams. Sauber is still lacking pace and Schumacher continues with his lacklustre performance in his 3 year return to Formula 1.
After stopping on track in Q2, Petrov did not participate in the final qualifying session and will start the race from P10. The Torro Rosso cars of Alguersuari and Buemi both performed better than they have previously this year, qualifying 7th and 9th respectively. This bodes well for both drivers as they each fight to hold onto their seat for the remainder of the year.
Paul Di Resta, again qualifying in front of his team mate qualified in 8th position. Alonso and Massa qualified solidly in the struggling Ferraris in 5th and 6th, beaten by Rosberg in 4th.
Lewis Hamilton could not better his team mate, ending the session in 3rd while Button finished 2nd. Sebastian Vettel qualified 1st for the 3rd time in 3 races in 2011, finishing 0.7 seconds in front of Button.
With Webber and Heidfeld starting well below where they should be, there should be plenty of overtaking and wheel to wheel battles as they make their way through the grid.
|Qualifying Times - China 2011|
|8||Paul Di Resta||1:35.702||1:35.858||1:36.190|