2013 CHINA GP: HAMILTON WITH FIRST POLE IN NEW TEAM

Lewis Hamilton has taken his first pole for Mercedes, setting a time more than half a second faster than last year’s pole. Most of the drivers, with the exception of the Toro Rosso duo, who started on the medium tyre, used soft tyre over just one run for Q1, which got underway in ambient temperatures of 27 degrees centigrade and track temperatures of 41 degrees centigrade.

The final Q3 session gave an important indication of tomorrow’s race strategies, which look set to be very varied. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Jenson Button chose to go out on the medium tyre but only Button set a time on the medium. Consequently, Vettel, as well as Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, who also did not set a time, will be able to choose which compound they start the race on tomorrow.

Pirelli mystery strategy predictor: Three stops looks to be the fastest strategy for the 56-lap race tomorrow: start on the soft, change to medium between laps six to nine, medium again from lap 22-26, medium again from lap 39-43. An alternative strategy would be to start on the medium, change for another set of mediums between lap 15-18, one more set of mediums between lap 33-35 and go for a set of softs around lap 46. A two-stop strategy is possible for teams that keep the degradation of the soft tyre under control. However, this may leave a two-stopper vulnerable to the three-stoppers behind, unless the difference in lap times between the two compounds reduces.
  P.    Driver               Team          Time        Gap 
 1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes AMG   1:34.484    
 2. Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus          1:34.761  +  0.277
 3. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari        1:34.788  +  0.304
 4. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes AMG   1:34.861  +  0.377
 5. Felipe Massa          Ferrari        1:34.933  +  0.449
 6. Romain Grosjean       Lotus          1:35.364  +  0.880
 7. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso     1:35.998  +  1.514
 8. Jenson Button         McLaren        2:05.673  + 31.189
 9. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull       no time
10. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber         no time
  Q2 Fastest time: L.Hamilton 1:36.261                     
11. Paul di Resta         Force India    1:36.287  +  1.209
12. Sergio Perez          McLaren        1:36.314  +  1.236
13. Adrian Sutil          Force India    1:36.405  +  1.327
14. Mark Webber           Red Bull       1:36.679  +  1.601
15. Pastor Maldonado      Williams       1:37.139  +  2.061
16. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso     1:37.199  +  2.121
  Q1 Fastest time: L.Hamilton 1:37.508                     
17. Valtteri Bottas       Williams       1:37.769  +  1.976
18. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber         1:37.990  +  2.197
19. Jules Bianchi         Marussia       1:38.780  +  2.987
20. Max Chilton           Marussia       1:39.537  +  3.744
21. Charles Pic           Caterham       1:39.614  +  3.821
22. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham       1:39.660  +  3.867
107% time: 1:42.489