2019 Chinese GP: 5 Stories for Qualifying

2019 Chinese GP: 5 Stories for Qualifying

With Mercedes and Ferrari almost equal on pace in Free Practice 2, Saturday in Shanghai looks set to be fascinating. Here are five stories to look out for in qualifying for the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix!


THE HEADLINES FROM FRIDAY:

  • Vettel fastest in FP1, Bottas fastest in FP2
  • Cooling system check ends Leclerc’s FP2 early
  • Front wing failure for Grosjean’s Haas in FP2
  • Only two laps for Giovinazzi in FP1
  • Power unit change for Kvyat sees him miss half of FP2

WILL FERRARI BEAT MERCEDES?

Will Ferrari beat Mercedes for a second front row lock-out in both the 2019 season and at the Chinese Grand Prix? Last season, Ferrari ended a run of six consecutive pole positions at the Chinese Grand Prix for Mercedes, as Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen occupied the first and second grid slots, leaving Mercedes on the second row. Similarly, Ferrari beat Mercedes to the front row last time out in Bahrain, with Charles Leclerc taking the first pole position of his Formula 1 career.

Ferrari led the way in Free Practice 1, with Vettel lapping two tenths faster than Lewis Hamilton, while Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was 0.027 seconds faster than Vettel at the top in Free Practice 2. Who will come out on top in this weekend’s battle of the titans?

QUALIFYING SESSION TOPPERS IN BAHRAIN IN RECENT YEARS:

  Q1 Q2 Q3
2014 Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
2015 Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
2016 Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari
Nico Rosberg
Mercedes
2017 Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen
Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
2018 Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari
Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes
Sebastian Vettel
Ferrari

CAN LANDO NORRIS REACH Q3 AGAIN?

Lando Norris has certainly impressed so far in F1, and remains the only driver on the grid yet to fail to reach the final part of qualifying in his career.

Will the Brit reach the final part of qualifying again this weekend? It looks like he’ll have a challenge on his hands, as McLaren haven’t featured in the top ten on Saturday at the Shanghai International Circuit since 2013. In the past five seasons, their best qualifying effort here has been twelfth position, scored by Jenson Button in 2014 and Fernando Alonso in 2016. More hopeful news for Norris is that the team reached Q3 in Bahrain for the first time since 2014 last time out, with both cars making the cut. McLaren’s pace has definitely improved for 2019 – but will it be enough for Norris to maintain his 100% Q3 appearance record?


WILL GIOVINAZZI CLOSE THE GAP TO RAIKKONEN?

From his four F1 appearances so far, Antonio Giovinazzi is yet to beat his team-mate in qualifying.

The middle sector at Albert Park is the only sector of track in which the Italian has set a faster time than Kimi Raikkonen so far in qualifying this year. The gap between the pair was only 0.067 seconds in Bahrain, but while Raikkonen progressed to Q3, Giovinazzi was eliminated in the first part of qualifying. Giovinazzi heads to China with past F1 experience, having been eliminated in Q2 here in 2017. He could have qualified higher – but he crashed out and was unable to improve his time. He went on to crash in the same section of track in the Grand Prix. Giovinazzi completed only two laps in Free Practice 1 and failed to set a competitive time, while he was just under four tenths of a second slower than Raikkonen in Free Practice 2.

Raikkonen has been beaten by a team-mate in four of the last five seasons at the Chinese Grand Prix – could Giovinazzi get the better of the Finn on Saturday?

You can keep track of the team-mate battles throughout the 2019 season on our Team-Mate Battles page!


WILL LECLERC GET THE BETTER OF VETTEL AGAIN?

Sebastian Vettel has been beaten by his team-mate in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix only once in the last four seasons. The German has been fastest in Q1 in Shanghai in all of the last four years, while he also took pole here last season.

Charles Leclerc will be looking to impress once again in qualifying this weekend, and will be keen to lead the way on Saturday for a second successive race. On his first appearance here last year, Leclerc qualified only nineteenth on a bad day of pace for Sauber, with the Monegasque driver out-qualifying team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

With the Ferrari’s pace looking impressive on Friday, the team-mate battle at Ferrari could once again be a battle for pole. Could Vettel claim his first pole of the 2019 season, or could Leclerc stamp his authority and claim a second pole position in a row?

You can find the Track Records for all 21 current Formula 1 circuits on our Lap Records page!


THE 100th POLESITTER AT THE 1000TH RACE?

Charles Leclerc became the 99th polesitter in Formula 1 at the 999th World Championship race – but could we see the 100th polesitter at the 1000th race?

The only team with a real chance of doing this – barring any unusual circumstances – will be Red Bull, with both of their drivers yet to take a pole position in their career. While Max Verstappen has lined up on the front row of the grid five times so far in his career – most recently at last year’s Mexican Grand Prix, where he was beaten to pole by just 0.026 seconds by his team-mate – he’s yet to take a pole position. If he does so this weekend, he’ll become the third-youngest F1 polesitter.

Meanwhile, a Q3 appearance for Pierre Gasly would be progress. He’s yet to qualify in the top ten so far on his two appearances with the Red Bull team, and is yet to qualify higher than sixth in his F1 career – though he did start from fifth at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix. It will certainly be a challenge for Red Bull to take pole this weekend. Last time out in Bahrain, the team had only the fourth fastest car in qualifying, ranking lower than Haas in the Ultimate Pace rankings.


Follow @LightsOutF1Blog on Twitter for live updates throughout Qualifying!






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