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UPDATE: Shanghai Merc lock-out

2012-04-14 09:39

111 STARTS, POLE AT LAST: Germany's Nico Rosberg, driving a Mercedes, has taken the first pole position of his Formula 1 career. Image: AFP

Shanghai, China - Germany's Nico Rosberg rocketed to the first pole position of his Formula 1 career on Saturday during qualifying for the 2012 Chinese F1 GP in what will be an all-Mercedes front row with team mate Michael Schumacher alongside him.

Schumacher, whose 91st and most recent win came in Shanghai with Ferrari in 2006, qualified third but will move up to second because McLaren's Lewis Hamilton must take a five-place grid penalty after an unscheduled gearbox change.

The pole was the first for Mercedes with its own team since the late Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1955 Italian GP. Mercedes left the sport that year and, despite considerable success as an engine provider, only returned under its own name in 2010 after buying 2009 champions Brawn GP.


"It's a great feeling, fantastic," beamed Rosberg, son of Finland's 1982 World champion Keke, whose pole came at the 111th attempt. His only previous front-row appearance was in Malaysia in 2010. "For the whole team, it's a special moment."
He swept to the top slot by a large margin with a best lap of 1min35.121; Hamilton managed 1min35.626. Hamilton, 2008 champion and 2011 winner in Shanghai, had been on pole in the two previous races of the season with McLaren sweeping the front row in both Australia and Malaysia.

"Congratulations to Nico, it's fantastic," said Hamilton, genuinely pleased for a friend who was a team mate in the junior series in 2000. "I’m very proud of him. We grew up together, racing together and always dreamed of being in 1."


Schumacher, who has the F1 record of 68 career poles, also congratulated his compatriot. "I said 'well done' because that was a phenomenal lap time," the 43-year-old said. "It's a bit of a surprise, but there you go. He's known as a good qualifier... I’m happy for him."

On a day when the focus returned to the track after a build-up dominated by talk of September 22’s controversial race in Bahrain, double World champion Sebastian Vettel produced another shock. The Red Bull driver qualified only 11th, his worst performance in qualifying since he became champion and his worst grid position since Brazil in 2009, 42 races ago.
Sauber's Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi will share the second row with Finland's 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen in a Lotus.

McLaren's Jenson Button and Red Bull's Mark Webber will line up together on the third row. Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso will start ninth.

Rosberg's pole came in his 111th race in the sport.

Stay with Wheels24 for the Formula 1 weekend.

Final qualifying positions for the 2012 Chinese F1 GP in Shanghai
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min35.121
2 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min35.626
3 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min35.691
4 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) 1min35.784
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min35.898
6 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min36.191
7 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min36.290
8 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 1min36.524
9 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min36.622
10 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus -----
(Hamilton drops five places with gearbox change penalty to start seventh.)

11 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min36.031
12 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min36.255
13 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min36.283
14 Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 1min36.289
15 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min36.317
16 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min36.745
17 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min36.956

18 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min37.741
19 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min38.463
20 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min38.677
21 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min39.282
22 Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min4039.717
23 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min40.411
24 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min41.000

Third free practice times ahead of the 2012 Chinese F1 GP
1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min35.940
2 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min36.063
3 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min36.389
4 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min36.512
5 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min36.635
6 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min36.765
7 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 1min36.781
8 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1min36.880
9 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min37.039
10 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min37.061
11 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min37.237
12 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min37.274
13 Paul Di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min37.288
14 Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 1min37.425
15 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min37.465
16 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min37.493
17 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min37.628
18 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min37.831
19 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min38.701
20 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min39.198
21 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min39.796
22 Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min40.048
23 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min41.263
24 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min41.499

Times from Friday’s second free practice session for Sunday's 2012 Chinese F1 GP
1 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1min35.973 seconds
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1min36.145
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1min36.160
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1min36.433
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1min36.617
6 Jenson Button McLaren 1min36.711
7 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1min36.956
8 Paul di Resta Force India 1min36.966
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1min37.191
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1min37.316
11 Sergio Perez Sauber 1min37.417
12 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1min37.616
13 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1min37.836
14 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1min37.930
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1min37.972
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1min38.176
17 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1min38.293
18 Bruno Senna Williams 1min38.783
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1min38.990
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1min39.346
21 Timo Glock Marussia 1min39.651
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1min40.343
23 Charles Pic Marussia 1min40.753
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1min41.125

First free practice session results

1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min37.106
2 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.116
3 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.316
4 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari 1min38.584
5 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber - Ferrari 1min38.911
6 Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1min38.977
7 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull - Renault 1min39.198
8 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min39.199
9 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min39.748
10 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min39.768
11 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min40.056
12 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min40.153
13 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 1min40.298
14 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min40.328
15 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min40.540
16 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min41.071
17 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min41.204
18 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min42.330
19 Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham 1min42.521
20 Jules Bianchi (France) Force India 1min44.118
21 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min44.227
22 Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min44.500
23 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT 1min47.204
24 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min50.465

Stay with Wheels24 for the Formula 1 weekend.


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