Catch Up On the Highlights from the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying
An action-packed Q1 meant no shortage of surprises during this qualifying session.
An eventful qualifying session for China's 2017 Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit has left a fan favorite on pole, with competitors staggered side by side.
Qualifying was, to a degree, shaken up by a reduction in practice time available, as Saturday's Free Practice 2 session was rained out. Q1's first major event was when Hamilton was rounding the final corner, only to see the Haas VF-17 of Romain Grosjean sideways ahead of him, his car upset by the curbs. Grosjean punctured his tires as a result of the spin, and had to change tires in order to get back out in time to put in a quality lap during Q1 in order to advance.
A few laps later, Verstappen complained of unsettling sounds emanating from his Tag Heuer (Renault) engine, and, on entry to the pit lane, nearly swung his RB13 into the wall. Lance Stroll showed signs of improvement over his shaky Australia performance, breaking out of Q3, and appearing much more confident in the car than he did last weekend.
Verstappen, back out after having his engine checked by his team, continued to be hampered by the engine problem he experienced earlier in qualifying. Thus, with his engine in a low-power mode meant to act as damage control, he failed to breach into Q2, qualifying a pitiful 19th place on the grid. Antonio Giovinazzi mirrored Grosjean's earlier misfortune by spinning at the same corner as the Frenchman, but took it a step further when his out-of-control Sauber slammed into the wall, ending his qualifying early. This caused a third sector yellow flag, which rained on Grosjean, Palmer, and Ocon's chances to put in laps capable of pulling them out of Q3.
Q2 was less accident-prone, and saw the departure of the second McLaren and Haas, as well as both Saubers, and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. In Q3, Ferrari and Mercedes were both unwilling to give up pole to each other, putting in hot laps until time expired. Hamilton was the first of the four favorites to set his fastest lap of the session in stone, as Q3's time expired. Bottas followed next, putting in a time just behind Hamilton's, with Vettel splitting the Mercedes, Räikkönen failing to outshine Bottas. Of the first two rows, the Mercedes dominate the left side, and Ferrari the right, with the second row itself composed of two Finns.
Sunday is creeping up on the Chinese Grand Prix. Will Mercedes make a hash of their pit strategy, losing a win to Ferrari again? Or will Ferrari make the mistake, as they were so known for in 2016?