The Chinese Grand Prix looks set to be an intriguing race after the two Mercedes drivers qualified at either end of the grid.Nico Rosberg starts from pole, but Lewis Hamilton will be at the back after an ERS problem meant that he sat in the garage in Q1, and failed to complete a flying lap.
To add to the intrigue, Rosberg managed to get through Q2 using the soft tire while his immediate rivals — led by RBR’s Daniel Ricciardo and the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel — will all be on the supersofts. With the more durable tire, the pole man will thus be on a different strategy from everyone else around him.
“I think we’re going to see a big, big tire mix-up tomorrow,” said Rosberg. “With everybody doing all sorts of stuff … It could be quite complicated, a lot of surprises or unexpected things going on.”
Rosberg admitted that drivers on supersofts will be able to get off the line better: “A little bit, yes, of course. The run to turn one is very short, that helps a little bit, but I need to get a good start.
“Of course I’ll be able to do a longer stint anyway than the others. I need to go through the strategy tonight and tomorrow morning, and see what the different options are, and what we need to be aware of. I just know starting on softs is going to be a small advantage (in the first stint).”
Meanwhile he stressed that Mercedes has not underestimate the challenge of Ferrari, whose drivers both made mistakes in Q3 today.
“What I need to add as well is that Kimi has a mistake in Q3. He was massively close, and even on Friday’s running in the race pace, they were on our level. Up to now this season they’re much better than they’ve shown, they’ve had a lot of mishaps and everything. We’re definitely well aware of the threat from Ferrari especially, Red Bull, we’re not quite sure for tomorrow, maybe them as well. But especially Ferrari for sure are going to be a big threat tomorrow.
Nevertheless Rosberg’s ability to get through Q2 on the soft, the supposedly slower one-lap tire, is an indication of how strong Mercedes still is. He said he wasn’t worried about missing the cut, although he was helped when a red flag curtailed the last runs of those who might have bumped him.
“It’s a bigger challenge, of course, because it’s not clear how big is the difference in tires and all that. Worried? No, that’s the wrong word. But aware that is was going to be a challenge, and aware that I needed to nail the lap. Which I did!
“It was good, it worked out really well. The pressure was on because Kimi did a better first run, and I needed to get a better lap done, and I managed it.”
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:35.402
2. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:35.917
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:35.972
4. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:36.246
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:36.296
6. Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing, 1:36.399
7. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:36.865
8. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:36.881
9. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:37.194
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:37.333
11. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:37.347
12. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 138.826
13. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:39.093
14. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:39.830
15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:40.742
16. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:42.430
17. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:38.673
18. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:38.770
19. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:39.528
20. Rio Haryanto, Manor, 1:40.264
21. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, DNF
22. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, DNF
Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/formula-one/mercedes-sandwiches-f1-field-chinese-gp-rosberg-first-hamilton-last#ixzz460pmxkO5