Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen lockout the front row in China
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 14, 2018 Updated: 4:18 AM PT
SHANGHAI, China — Ferrari divers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen achieved a front-row lockout of the season leaving Mercedes in the back for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
With the thousands of Chinese F1 fans filling the Shanghai International Circuit, Vettel took his 52nd career pole position ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen in second.
Vettel and Raikkonen also gave Ferrari their second front row lockout of the season with Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa being the last pair to score back to back front row lockouts for Ferrari in 2006 at the United States and French Grand Prix.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas finished third as he was the strongest of the two silver arrows to challenge the Ferraris. Bottas’ teammate Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after choosing to abandon his final flying lap in the closing minutes of Q3.
After dominating the first two practice sessions yesterday, Hamilton’s car appeared to do a complete 180 as he dropped nearly half a second to Vettel. Changing weather conditions and cool track temperatures contributed to a lot of drivers struggling to get their tires hooked up including Hamilton. Mercedes boss Toto Wolf gives some insight as to what could have been behind their drop in performance.
“It has been a complex weekend for us so far – on some laps, we have hit the window of tyre performance just right like on the final run in Q2; but more often it has felt like we were chasing that window, especially on the UltraSoft tyre where we have been lacking overall grip,” said Wolf.
Red Bull tucked in behind Mercedes with Max Verstappen finishing fifth and Daniel Ricciardo sixth in what has been a rough weekend after both drivers experienced engine issues during the third practice session. Ricciardo suffered an engine failure leaving the team scrambling to replace it before the end of Q1. With a combined effort from both garages, the team were able to get Ricciardo out in time, and he was able to set a lap good enough to move on to the next session.
Renault ’s Nico Hulkenberg took seventh with Sergio Perez in eighth splitting the two Renault’s as he joins the tight midfield battle set for tomorrow. Hulkenberg’s teammate Carlos Sainz finished ninth.
Haas driver Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten with teammate Kevin Magnussen in 11th. It was a deep cut for Perez’s teammate Esteban Ocon who just missed the top ten by 0.071s to start 12th in tomorrow's race.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso finished 0.175s behind Ocon in 13th with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in 14th. The two drivers applied some teamwork as they towed each other down the back straight in a attempt to move each other up the grid.
Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin took 16th splitting the Toro Rossos of Brendon Hartley in 15th and teammate Pierre Gasly, 0.039s behind Sirotkin, in 17th. Gasly is off to a rough start in tomorrow's race after scoring the highest result of his career last week in Bahrain.
Lance Stroll will start 18th in the second Williams with the Saubers of Charles Leclerc and teammate Marcus Ericsson filling the last spots on the grid in 19th and 20th.