Chinese GP qualifying
Like the man said, “get in there…\\!” Three races in to the Big Project and Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will start tomorrows Chinese Grand Prix from pole position having dominated qualifying this morning. When Hamiltons move to the over-funded/under-delivering team was announced last year nobody thought it would work out this well, this soon. Im just trying to work out why Lewis didnt look very happy about it all.It was an odd qualifying session. There were suggestions that nobody in Q3 really wanted to qualify on the soft tyres and, until 2.40mins from the end of the session, only Sebastian Vettel had ventured out, on a set of older mediums and not even completed the lap. Would anyone bother? Could it indeed be better to take a chance of starting anywhere in the top ten, just so long as you didnt have to start on softs?As it turned out, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg will all start on the mediums, behind seven cars with tanks heavy with fuel running used softs that are expected to be destroyed in their first stint. Of the three on the mediums looking to take advantage, Vettel has the quickest car and the freshest tyres. This was clearly Red Bull tactics, the team making no secret of the fact it did not have the quickest car. Mark Webbers starting position has yet to be decided. He didnt make it to Q3, having apparently run out of juice in Q2 in what might prove to be a repeat of Abu Dhabi.Of the seven drivers who couldnt resist the urge to set a time in Q3 (and Button who cruised around on his mediums) Hamilton always looked the man most likely. Hell start next to Raikkonen who had a quiet one, but delivered when required. And although the Lotus – like the McLaren – is running this years must-have tech which connects the front and rear suspension, Citroen style, Raikkonen and Lotus arent confident for tomorrow, the Lotus E21 having showed itself to be a little hard on its fronts all weekend so far.Which leaves the Ferraris in third and fifth, with Fernando Alonso lining up ahead of Massa for the first time in five races; the likely source of Lewis post-qualifying anxiety. Weve seen Ferrari perform better in races than Mercedes this year. Nico Rosberg, starting alongside Alonso and ahead of Massa might well need to run interference for his team-mate as Mercedes goes for its first win since China last year when Rosberg broke the teams duck. You wouldnt want to be in his shoes.So the top ten; HAM, RAI, ALO, ROS, MAS, GRO, Daniel Ricciardo, BUT, VET AND HUL. Yeah, Ricciardo running without last years dental tracks is finally beginning to repay the faith Red Bull and Toro Rosso showed in him. After a largely invisible 2012 hes not been gifted the best of chassis this year, so todays performance was impressive and, it has to be said, timely considering all thats going on at the mother team…Jules Bianchi starred yet again, Valterri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez didnt, both eliminated in Q1. Bottas team mate didnt make it through to Q3, Gutierrez did. That wont be lost on Sergio Perez who also didnt make Q3 and will start two places behind his old car now driven by Hulkenberg. McLaren is narrowing the gap but the car is still seven-tenths off the pace. Not that it worried Jenson Button who was all smiles this morning. What does he know that we dont? And rather more worryingly, whats keeping Lewis looking so glum?