Chinese Grand Prix: Qualifying Recap


Event: Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix
Date: Saturday, April 16
Location: Shanghai International Circuit
Layout: 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn circuit
Weather: Overcast, 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit)
Lap Record: 1:32.238 set by Michael Schumacher in 2004 with Ferrari (during race)
Pole Winner: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:35.402)
Romain Grosjean qualified 14th, will start on outside of Row 7
Esteban Gutierrez qualified 18th, will start on outside of Row 9

Q1 Rundown:

  • Lasts 18 minutes, with all 22 drivers participating
  • Fastest 16 drivers advance to Q2

Grosjean: 14th quick (1:38.425), advanced to Q2
Gutiérrez: 18th quick (1:38.770)
Fastest Driver:   Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari (1:37.001)
Cutoff: 16th-quick Felipe Nasr of Sauber (1:38.654)

Q2 Rundown:

  • Lasts 15 minutes, featuring the 16 fastest drivers from Q1
  • Fastest 10 drivers advance to Q3

Grosjean: 14th quick (1:39.830)
Fastest Driver: Kimi Raikkonen of Scuderia Ferrari (1:36.118)
Cutoff: 10th-quick Nico Hulkenberg of Force India (1:37.333)

Q3 Rundown:

  • Lasts 12 minutes, featuring the 10 fastest drivers from Q2, all battling for the pole

Pole Winner: Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:35.402)
Second: Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing (1:35.917)


Qualifying took place in relatively dry conditions after a wet final practice saw drivers use the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire before most transitioned to the Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate tire.

Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez collectively made 11 laps in final practice, with Grosjean logging four laps and Gutiérrez making seven laps. Grosjean made all his laps on the Blue full wet tire. Gutiérrez switched to the Green intermediate tire for his final three laps.

While the weather was a hindrance, the track time was welcome after a fitful day of practice on Friday where on-track running was limited, especially for Gutiérrez, who only turned a total of six laps, none of which were at speed. Grosjean, by comparison, made a total of 31 laps, but struggled with the car’s aero and brake balance.

With the rain having abated during final practice, the track was able to dry in time for qualifying, sans two wet patches on the frontstretch. Teams that had originally selected to run on Green intermediates quickly swapped them in favor of the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire.

Sixteen drivers advanced out of Q1 to Q2, and Grosjean was among them. His lap of 1:38.425 put him 14th, placing him into Q2 for the second straight race. Gutiérrez’s best lap was a 1:38.770, which put him 18th.

The Red supersofts remained the tire of choice in Q2 for everyone except Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who opted for the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft. After Grosjean ran a 1:39.830 in his first Q2 run on used tires, he was set to better that mark on his second run until the red flag flew for the stricken Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. This negated Grosjean’s lap, leaving him 14th when the session ended.

The 10 fastest drivers in Q2 moved on to Q3. While not what he wanted, Grosjean’s 14th-place qualifying effort came with a silver lining. By not advancing to Q3, he saved a set of tires for the race. Those in Q3 burned another batch of their 13-set allotment, leaving one less set for them in the race.

Rosberg won the pole with a 1:35.402 to collect his first pole of the season, the 23rd of his career and his second at Shanghai.

Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team

“I think the car is better than it was yesterday, and we were much closer in terms of lap times. That’s a positive. We were very unlucky with that red flag at the end of Q2. We didn’t get to run a new set in Q2, so here we are. Not the best position but tomorrow, the race is long. The tire degradation is huge, so we’ll try to get the best from that. Not an easy weekend for us between FP1, which was non-stop red flags for various reasons, then FP3 being wet. Everything’s been made a little complicated for us. Tomorrow is a different day, but not ideal today.”

Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team

“It was quite a tricky session in the beginning. I was planning to do as many laps as I could as, basically, it was the first time I was out running on track. It was very difficult to get up to speed. I did my best with the conditions. Our focus now is on the race tomorrow and getting the best out of the car.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

“A very exciting qualifying. It was good to be back to the old system. For us it was the first time with this format, so we had a few hiccups, but in the end we got out OK. Our starting position for Romain is alright, P14. Unfortunately, Esteban didn’t make it into Q2, so he will begin P18. I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow and hope it will be as exciting as qualifying has been. I’m sure it will be with the tires playing a big role here, so I think it’s going to make for a great race.” 

This article contains: Chinese Grand Prix