• Chinese Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel leads dominant Red Bull front-row lock out

ESPNF1 Staff
April 17, 2010 « Driver reaction after qualifying | »

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber silenced rivals' claims that its pace was down to a controversial trick suspension system, by locking out the front row of the grid in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso was the pair's closest competitor, four tenths off Vettel, qualifying third after the challenge from the McLarens failed to materialise. Nico Rosberg proved that Mercedes practice pace was no fluke, taking fourth ahead of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton's fastest lap in Q3 was off the pace of what he achieved in Q2 and a huge disappointment after McLaren showed genuine pace in the practice sessions.

Following claims Red Bull had been running some sort of trick suspension, the FIA issued a clarification to the teams banning the use of adjustable ride-height systems to gain an advantage in qualifying. Red Bull vehemently denied it had anything on its car and the pole position in Shanghai acts as proof the RB6 is fast irrespective of any gadgetry. Vettel took the car to the limit and put aside the problems he had been struggling with in the first corner to beat his team-mate Webber, whose form had been better in the practice sessions leading up to qualifying. The performance will sting hardest for McLaren, which had shelved a system of its own after the FIA clarification and will now start well behind the Red Bulls in Sunday's race.

Even more disappointing was the pace of Michael Schumacher, who visibly struggled to get his car turned into corners on his way to ninth place and whose time was over 0.7 seconds off team-mate Rosberg. He will start a row behind Felipe Massa in seventh and the in-form Robert Kubica in eighth, who again extracted the maximum from his Renault. Adrian Sutil will line up alongside Schumacher in tenth place, after he continued his strong run of qualifying performances in the Force India. The same cannot be said for team-mate Tonio Liuzzi who will start the race 18th after traffic saw him fail to make it out of the first knock-out qualifying session.

Of those that went out in Q2, Rubens Barrichello was fastest for Williams and only narrowly missed out on taking Schumacher's place in Q3. Behind him the two Toro Rosso's will start ahead of Vitaly Petrov and the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi. Nico Hulkenberg had a difficult session in the Williams and will be 16th on the grid ahead of the second Sauber of Pedro de la Rosa.

In the battle between F1's newcomers, Virgin and Timo Glock came out on top beating the two Lotuses. Heikki Kovalainen had a difficult time in his Lotus, spinning off the track after locking his rears, and will start behind team-mate Jarno Trulli but ahead of Lucas di Grassi in the second Virgin. Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok resumed their usual places at the bottom of the time sheets.