Valtteri Bottas became the third different polesitter of the 2019 season as Mercedes locked out the front row in Shanghai. We take a look at all the stats and stories from Saturday at the Chinese Grand Prix!
Q U A L I F Y I N G R E C A P
- Bottas takes pole by 0.023s from Hamilton
- Albon fails to participate in qualifying after heavy crash in FP3
- Renault reach Q3 for first time in 2019, as does Gasly
- Both McLarens eliminated in Q2
- Raikkonen misses out on Q3 for the first time since Hungary 2016
The Ultimate Pace
While Valtteri Bottas took pole position, it was his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who set today’s ultimate pace, with the fastest time in all three sectors. Had he hooked the three sectors together on his final push for pole, Hamilton would have set a lap time over three tenths faster than Bottas’ actual pole lap. Given the high tyre degradation experienced at the Shanghai International Circuit, finding a balance between being fast in all three sectors and saving the tyres is difficult – hence why the gap between the best actual lap time and the best potential lap time is higher than usual.
By adding each drivers’ best three sector times together, we can get an idea of who put a lap together when it mattered, and who failed to pull all three sectors into one fast lap. Romain Grosjean was the only driver who set all of their three fastest sector times on their final lap in qualifying, while Lewis Hamilton was the furthest away from his ultimate pace – 0.393 seconds. The lap times are compared in the table below:
|Pos||Driver||Qualifying Time||Ultimate Pace||Difference||Ultimate Pace Position|
The team-mate battles
Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix saw some close lap times between team-mates – particularly between the Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Haas pairings. Just 0.004 seconds separated Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg in the final part of qualifying and, while the Haas pair didn’t set a lap time in Q3, Kevin Magnussen was just 0.006 seconds faster than Romain Grosjean in Q2.
Largest gaps in each session:
Q1: Charles Leclerc 0.845s faster than Sebastian Vettel
Q2: Max Verstappen 0.579s faster than Pierre Gasly
Q3: Max Verstappen 0.841s faster than Pierre Gasly
Gap between team-mates in last session where each driver set a time:
As neither Antonio Giovinazzi nor Alexander Albon set a competitive time in qualifying, their results have been omitted from the table below.
Looking at each driver’s ultimate pace also offers an interesting glimpse into who was fastest in each sector in each team. The results can be found in the table below. The smallest gap between team-mates’ best sector times was at Ferrari, where Charles Leclerc was only 0.002 seconds faster than Sebastian Vettel in the middle sector. Meanwhile, with their best three sector times combined, Max Verstappen’s best potential lap was 0.951 seconds faster Pierre Gasly’s.
Find all the team-mate battle statistics for the 2019 season here!
As noted above, Mercedes had the quickest car in all three sectors, while Ferrari were second fastest in all three. After being beaten by Haas on pace in Bahrain, Red Bull returned to their expected form, with the third quickest car in every sector. It was a shame for Alex Albon to miss out on qualifying – Toro Rosso had the fifth fastest car in both the first and last sectors, meaning they had a good chance of qualifying in the top ten, as demonstrated by Daniil Kvyat missing out on Q3 by just 0.022 seconds.
|GAP TO POLE|
About the above table: the ‘gap to ultimate pace’ column shows the gap between the team’s best three sector times added together and the overall best three sector times added together. The ‘gap to pole time’ column shows the gap between the team’s best three sector times added together and the lap time of the polesitter.
Improvements between 2018 and 2019
The table below shows the difference in each team’s best potential lap time in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix between 2018 and 2019. Racing Point were the most improved team, with their best 2019 lap being over nine tenths faster than their best 2018 effort.
All set for Sunday:
Can Valtteri Bottas convert his pole position into a win to take a second win of the season? Will Ferrari be able to challenge Mercedes in the Grand Prix, or will Red Bull be a bigger threat from behind? Will Kimi Raikkonen be able to maintain his points-scoring form, despite starting from thirteenth? There are plenty of questions to be answered in tomorrow’s 1000th World Championship race!
In the Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions:
LUCKY: 3rd: Sebastian Vettel 5th: Max Verstappen 6th: Pierre Gasly 8th: Nico Hulkenberg 11th: Daniil Kyat 12th: Sergio Perez
3rd: Sebastian Vettel
5th: Max Verstappen
6th: Pierre Gasly
8th: Nico Hulkenberg
11th: Daniil Kyat
12th: Sergio Perez
UNLUCKY: 4th: Charles Leclerc 13th: Kimi Raikkonen 15th: Lando Norris 20th: Alexander Albon
4th: Charles Leclerc
13th: Kimi Raikkonen
15th: Lando Norris
20th: Alexander Albon
Find out what makes each grid position lucky or unlucky here!
Nicky Haldenby is a freelance writer from Scarborough, England. After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fourth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations, and sister site GPDestinations, where he shares regular race previews and articles focussed around the latest in Formula 1 calendar and venue news. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky can also be heard regularly as a guest on various Formula 1 radio shows and podcasts.