The third qualifying session of 2016 at the Shanghai International circuit saw the return of the 2015 qualifying format, bringing it back to the way that many wanted it originally. Nico Rosberg was the ultimate winner as he took pole position in China. His teammate Lewis Hamilton had a hybrid issue which left him to start from the back row alongside Mercedes junior driver Pascal Wehrlein in the Manor. Wehrlein was also unlucky in the session as he lost control of the car in Q1 over the main straight bump with his DRS open, sending him out of control and into the wall.
Nico Hulkenberg was also another loser in the session. He lost a wheel whilst completing his lap and brought out the red flag close to the end of Q2. Lucky for him he still finished P10 and frustrated many others as the red flag prevent them completing another lap. The German was slapped with a 3-place grid drop for the race. His teammate Sergio Perez qualified well in seventh, continuing his strong run of qualifying performances
Fernando Alonso was incredibly frustrated with the red flag brought out by the Force India, as he felt like he had enough to book a spot in Q3. Alonso hasn’t competed since the first race in Australia and was replaced in Bahrain by impressive rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, so it was easy to understand his frustrations for a missed opportunity.
Sauber got both of their cars into Q2, which was a good result for the team as it’s the first time this season they’ve managed to get out of Q1.
Both young Toro Rosso drivers got themselves into Q3 again, qualifying in eighth and ninth position as Carlos Sainz out qualified teammate Max Verstappen with their 2015 spec Ferrari engine.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo put in an astonishing lap to qualify on the front row behind pole sitter Rosberg. It was a huge surprise to not only the team but to Ricciardo himself. His teammate Daniil Kvyat finished fifth to complete a strong qualifying for the Milton Keynes outfit.
The 13th Chinese Grand Prix certainly was an exciting race with full blown chaos around the circuit in Shanghai. The winners and losers seemed to change every second of the race from the first lap to the safety car and even strategies.
Nico Rosberg made it three wins from as many races wins with a very dominant performance, having had his first ever race win here in 2012. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand had a weekend to forget after starting last on the grid and also being hit with a 5-place grid penalty. He recovered to finish seventh in a race where no drivers retired.
Daniil Kvyat finished the Grand Prix on the podium ahead of his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo who received a puncture after leading the race on the first lap. Nonetheless, it was a good day for the team who walked away with a solid haul of points.
Ferrari may have got a podium with Sebastian Vettel finishing second, however, it didn’t go so smoothly after the first corner where he was placed in wedge between his teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Kvyat. This left damage to Raikkonen and Vettel’s car which saw both drivers drop down the order. Raikkonen joined Hamilton and Ricciardo on a recovery drive and finished in fifth position just behind the Red Bulls.
Toro Rosso finished their race with a double points finish with Carlos Sainz in ninth and Max Verstappen in eighth after starting the race in ninth position.
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg had a race to forget after being handed a 5-second time penalty for driving too slow in the pit lane and holding other drivers up. Despite finishing in 15th he did go on to set the fastest lap of the race. Sergio Perez finished just outside the points which was a shame as he was running very well in the race.
Haas and McLaren came to China in hopes of finishing in the points. Haas to continue their run of top 10 finishes, while McLaren to get their first of the season with their 2016 drivers, as their only points finish came courtesy of reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne. Sadly neither team were able to finish in the top ten and will leave China without any championship points.
Image via Red Bull Content Pool