Hamilton Takes Pole Position for Chinese GP; Webber Starts in Last Due to Fuel Problems
Lewis Hamilton will begin the Chinese Grand Prix in pole position for the first time since joining McLaren this season, next to Kimi Räikkönen and in front of Fernando Alonso. Mark Webber, who was shut out of taking first in Malaysia by teammate Sebastian Vettel, suffered a new round of disappointments as an error with his fuel bowser led to Webber running out of fuel in the middle of Q2 qualifying. While this initially relegated him to 14th place, FIA rules dictate that teams must submit a 1-liter sample of fuel after qualifying laps; if a car stops on the track, there must also be enough fuel left onboard to move the car from its stopped position to pit lane. Since Webber had only 150mL of fuel, he was unable to meet the requirements, meaning he will begin the Grand Prix in last place.
Qualifying for this race was all about choosing the right tires. Both Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg declined to set times during Q3 to conserve tires, while Vettel and Jenson Button (who set a lackadaisical time of 2:05.673 compared to everyone else, who set times in the mid-1:30s) decided to start on the medium compound tires. Those compounds are inferior to the softs in terms of fast lap times, but the mediums will last longer in the start of the race. The racers starting at the front of the pack will need to pit quickly, as the tires simply won’t last long on the track.
The weather in Shanghai will not factor much in the race; the temperature is warm with medium humidity, but it will likely be a much smoother race than Malaysia. Webber will be able to easily overtake the Caterham, Marussia, and Williams cars relatively quickly, and the front runners won’t have to deal with his characteristically slow starts. Look for Alonso to make up for his disappointing Lap 2 retirement in the last race, where a collision just after race start damaged his front wing and shattered just a few minutes later. This will also be the first test for Webber and Vettel’s fragile relationship since Vettel defied team orders and overtook Webber to clinch first.
The Chinese Grand Prix will be broadcast live tonight at 11:30PM PST on NBC Sports.