Jean-Eric Vergne will start from ninth place on the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix after putting together a great final flyer in the dying moments of qualifying, timing his run perfectly to pip fellow Frenchman Romain Grosjean. Having shown a good turn of pace all weekend and in Q1, Daniil Kvyat in the second STR9 failed to make the cut into the top ten shoot-out, unlucky to be caught out when the rain intensified briefly before the end and had to settle for thirteenth place.
Jev, who really seems to have overcome last year’s qualifying hoodoo, shares the fourth row of the grid with fellow Frenchman, Romain Grosjean, giving Lotus their first top ten start of the year. Daniil has Sauber’s Adrian Sutil for company on row 7.
At the front, Lewis Hamilton took his third pole of the season, the 34th of his career in the Mercedes, while behind him came two graduates of the Toro Rosso “F1 school” Daniel Ricciardo outpacing Sebastian Vettel for the third time in four races in the Red Bulls. Alongside the German on tomorrow’s grid will be his fellow countryman, Nico Rosberg, fourth in the other Mercedes.
Today’s rain affected form book can be thrown out of the window for tomorrow’s 56 laps of the Shanghai International Circuit, as it is expected to be a completely dry race, although it’s likely to remain cool if not chilly. That’s good for us, because both drivers would prefer a dry track, based on a strong long run pace shown on Friday. From ninth on the grid, Jev is definitely optimistic about a strong points finish, while Daniil can logically aim for the top ten with a bit of luck and a clever strategy. On that subject, three is likely to be the more popular choice when it comes to pit stops, but two is also possible for teams who can overcome tyre wear problems better than others. The cool conditions mean that graining is going to affect everyone to a greater or lesser extent.