2016 Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying

 ROSBERG CLAIMS POLE POSITION ON SUPERSOFT AT CHINESE GRAND PRIX AFTER ACTION-PACKED QUALIFYING

Shanghai, April 16, 2016 – Following the warm conditions of yesterday, this morning the rain came down in Shanghai. As a result, the teams used the full wet and intermediate tyre for the first time since the FP1 in Melbourne, before conditions dried up for qualifying in the afternoon. Various mechanical incidents and driver errors made for an action-packed qualifying session at the demanding Shanghai circuit, where Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg emerged with pole position. With Hamilton not qualified after Q1, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg ran the soft tyre in Q2, meaning that this is the compound he will start with tomorrow.

Paul Hembery: Pirelli motorsport director: “The rain in the morning added a different dimension to the action today, complicating the strategy at what is already a complex race by depriving the teams of dry running before qualifying. That may have been one of the reasons why we saw such an action-packed qualifying today, with some incidents that have helped to shake up the grid for tomorrow, as we returned to the previous system of qualifying. The supersofts clearly have a speed advantage here, but there is scope for an interesting alternative strategy by starting on the soft, as Nico Rosberg has shown. There are a couple of potential three-stops winning strategies in play for the race: the teams will have to be reactive, so we expect to see a wide variety of different tactics in play.”

How the tyres behaved today:
Medium          Not much used today, some teams could use this at the end of the race.
Soft                 Used by some teams in qualifying, notably Mercedes in Q2.
Supersoft       About 0.8s faster than the soft: but at the cost of a short opening stint.
Wet                 Used at the start of FP3, helped to dry the track.
Intermediate Set the fastest time in FP3.

Race strategy: With the teams having comparatively little slick tyre data to go on, the strategy calculations for the 56-lap race have taken on a new twist. The rain also has the effect of washing any rubber that has been laid down off the surface, which again affects tyre behaviour.  Tyre wear and degradation in China is traditionally high, so the optimal strategy should theoretically be a three-stopper: start on the supersoft and then change to the soft on laps 11, 26 and 41. An alternative strategy (Rosberg, for example) would be to start the race on soft, run soft for the majority of the race (changing around lap 16 and 31), and then put on the supersoft for the final stint around lap 46. Am S/S/S/Mediuum strategy looks interesting but slightly slower.

FREE PRACTICE 3 – TOP 3 TIMES

Vettel 1m57.351s Intermediate New
Bottas  1m58.061s Intermediate New
Perez  1m58.689s Intermediate New

QUALIFYING TOP 10

Rosberg  1m35.402s Super Soft New
Ricciardo  1m35.917s  Super Soft New
Raikkonen  1m35.972s  Super Soft New
Vettel  1m36.246s  Super Soft New
Bottas  1m36.296s  Super Soft New
Kvyat  1m36.399s  Super Soft Used
Perez  1m36.865s  Super Soft New
Sainz  1m36.881s  Super Soft New
Verstappen 1m37.194s Super Soft New
Hulkenberg

LONGEST STINT SO FAR

SOFT Raikkonen 17
MEDIUM Bottas 16
SUPERSOFT Raikkonen 11
SUPERSOFT Perez 11
SUPERSOFT Hulkenberg 11
INTERMEDIATE Nasr 7
WET Verstappen 6

BEST TIME BY COMPOUND SO FAR

MEDIUM Hamilton 1m38.791s
INTERMEDIATE Vettel 1m57.351s
WET Sainz 1m58.800s
SOFT Rosberg 1m36.240s
SUPERSOFT Rosberg 1m35.402s