Lewis Hamilton scored Mercedes’ 75th pole position to lead the field at the 2017 F1 Chinese Grand Prix.
The 3-time World Champion hooked up an unbeatable lap when it counted, having trailed Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel through Q1 and Q2.
Mercedes keep their qualifying advantage
Mercedes retained their slight qualifying advantage over Ferrari in Shanghai. Despite Ferrari leading through Q1 and Q2, Lewis Hamilton took pole position by 0.186 seconds from Sebastien Vettel.
The Mercedes edge over Ferrari was replicated with Valterri Bottas lining up ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in 3rd and 4th places respectively. Bottas however narrowly missed out on a front row start by one-thousandth of a second. A big improvement over his Melbourne qualifying struggles.
Renault power issues rear their head again
Max Verstappen suffered power unit issues in Q1. Despite a double-lap attempt at the end, the Dutchman could only qualify 19th. The issues compounded the noticeable lack of power from the TAG Heuer branded Renault engine.
There is quite a bit of clean air between Mercedes/Ferrari and Red Bull in Shanghai. Daniel Ricciardo will line up 5th on the grid, qualifying some 1.3 seconds off the ultimate pace of Hamilton.
Chassis fix for Palmer but still smashed by the Hulk
Despite Renault discovering a broken anti-roll bar in Palmer’s chassis from Australia, the Briton was still put in the shade by new team mate Nico Hulkenberg.
The pressure just cranked up another notch for Palmer as he qualified 18th with Hulkenberg making it through to Q3 to line up a spectacular 7th. Palmer was however compromised by the last lap crash from Antonio Giovinazzi which wrecked his final attempt in Q1. To add further salt to the wound, Palmer was handed a 5-place grid penalty for failing to slow in approach to the Giovinazzi accident.
Alonso drives like an animal
Fernando Alonso once again rung the neck of his McLaren Honda to drag it to a creditable 13th place start. The McLaren’s were nearly 15 km/h slower than the leading Mercedes on the monster Shanghai straight. Despite that, Alonso got the McLaren within 0.2s of making it through to Q3.
The performance of McLaren and Honda continues to be undeserving of the talents of Alonso. Technical issues early in Q1 hampered Stoffel Vandoorne who struggled to 16th place on the grid.
* 5 place grid penalties applied by stewards for not slowing sufficiently in approach to Giovinazzi crash during Q1.