Lewis Hamilton on pole in China (2008 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying)

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A wink and a smile: Lewis Hamilton scored his seventh pole position of 2008

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix after leading every practice and qualifying session in Shanghai bar one.

But with Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and the ‘third Ferrari’ of Fernando Alonso right behind him he will be under huge pressure at the start.

Meanwhile Robert Kubica failed to qualifying inside the top ten, a major blow to his already slim championship hopes.

Part one

Hamilton carried his form from practice into qualifying and with a single lap set a time quicker than anyone else by half a second up to that point. Team mate Heikki Kovalainen eventually improved to second, one tenth slower than Hamilton, but Massa remained four tenths adrift and.

Meanwhile the other title rival – Kubica – was visibly struggling, and only made it into Q2 by 0.228s have languished in the bottom five for much of the session.

Kubica’s late improvement knocked David Coulthard into the drop zone, but Rubens Barrichello got his Honda in Q2 by less than a tenth of a second. But Coulthard fumed at Nick Heidfeld afterwards, claiming the BMW driver had delayed him.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. David Coulthard 1’36.731
17. Kazuki Nakajima 1’36.863
18. Jenson Button 1’37.053
19. Adrian Sutil 1’37.730
20. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’37.739

Part two

While the Ferraris put on the medium compound option tyres and went fastest – Massa with a 1’35.135 – Hamilton stayed on the harder tyres and could only manage fifth, 0.3s slower. He did a second run, switching to the medium tyres. That final lap saw him improve to a 1’34.947, putting him top of the times.

But Kubica was in trouble once again and this time there was no late reprieve – he could only manage 12th while Heidfeld made it into the final ten.

Barrichello managed 14th ahead of Rosberg, and both the Toyotas were also eliminated.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’35.722
12. Robnert Kubica 1’35.814
13. Timo Glock 1’35.937
14. Rubens Barrichello 1’36.079
15. Nico Rosberg 1’36.210

Part three

Hamilton’s first lap in Q3 was spoiled by a mistake in the middle sector. It left him fifth, 0.01s slower than Massa, but 0.6s slower than his team mate, who was quickest.

But he hit back on his second lap, beating Raikkonen by 0.3s to claim the 13th pole position of his career.

Raikkonen carried huge speed through the final corner to claim second and out-qualify Massa for the second race in a row. Kovalainen had a poor final lap, falling from first to fifth behind Alonso. Mark Webber took sixth, but will have a ten-place penalty having changed his engine.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Lewis Hamilton 1’36.303
2. Kimi Raikkonen 1’36.645
3. Felipe Massa 1’36.889
4. Fernando Alonso 1’36.927
5. Heikki Kovalainen 1’36.930
6. Mark Webber 1’37.083
7. Nick Heidfeld 1’37.201
8. Sebastian Vettel 1’37.685
9. Jarno Trulli 1’37.934
10. Sebastien Bourdais 1’38.885

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Lewis Hamilton on pole in China (2008 Chinese Grand Prix qualifying)”

  1. ‘third Ferrari’ of Fernando Alonso

    I like it.

  2. Lewis might be on pole, but he did not seem happy with the result.

  3. Same top four position on the grid as on 2007
    1- Hamilton
    2- Raikkonen
    3- Massa
    4- Alonso

    So can we expect same race result as last year ?
    1- Raikkonen
    2- Alonso
    3- Massa

  4. Rahzam – I had in my mind the ’82 Italian Grand Prix, when Rene Arnoux (Renault) won from the Ferraris of Patrick Tambay and Mario Andretti. As Arnoux was joining Ferrari the following year, one Italian newspaper ran the headline “Ferrari 1-2-3!”. Slightly different circumstances today, but perhaps a similar sentiment…

    Audiq – well spotted!

  5. good point rahzam – 3rd ferrari – but how come that renault has picked up so much speed ? – what chance raikonnen t boning hami at turn one??? – makes for an interesting breakfast show though – roll on tomorrow

  6. it isn’t good for Kubica :/
    i hope that Hamilton won’t won.
    sorry for my english, i’m learning

  7. Pretty impressive lap by Hamilton (unless he’s fuelled light and the first lap was just really really bad…), less impressive by Kovalainen (how is he gonna influence the championship stuck behind Alonso?)

    Although this is Hamilton in the penultimate race of the season we’re talking so I have high hopes for a repeat of last week’s start leaving the track free for Alonso to do a hat trick. ;)

  8. Well done Lewis for getting on pole. It is a shame he has having to do it all on his own his Heiki yet again under performing whilest Massa has a very strong team mate in Kimi.

    Fingers crossed for a Lewis win tomorrow!

  9. I missed the qualifying; had a class. But given the times, I can draw the following conclusions

    1. Even after a mistake in the first lap; he was only 0.01s slower than Massa. This means he is pretty much (read 3-4 laps) lighter than Massa. His final time is 0.586s faster than Massa; this vindicates my point.

    2. Massa-Alonso-Kova are separated by 0.041s, times seem similar to Japan.(There it was Kova-Alonso-Massa)..Massa should be heaviest of all 3

    3.The 3-tenths between Hamilton and Raikkonen can be split up as (0.1 – fuel gap(possibly 1 lap); 0.2-Hamilton’s better driving that Raikkonen)

    I guess this is Hamilton’s race unless Kimi gets past him at the first corner.

  10. Hamilton on pole and 3 very angry drivers behind him.

  11. I missed the qualifying; had a class. But given the times, I can draw the following conclusions

    1. Even after a mistake in the first lap; he was only 0.01s slower than Massa. This means he is pretty much (read 3-4 laps) lighter than Massa. His final time is 0.586s faster than Massa; this vindicates my point.

    2. Massa-Alonso-Kova are separated by 0.041s, times seem similar to Japan.(There it was Kova-Alonso-Massa)..Massa should be heaviest of all 3

    3.The 3-tenths between Hamilton and Raikkonen can be split up as (0.1 – fuel gap(possibly 1 lap); 0.2-Hamilton’s better driving that Raikkonen)

    I guess this is Hamilton’s race unless Kimi gets past him at the first corner.

  12. Time differences between Q2 & Q3 and estimated 1st pit Stop ( )

    L Hamilton 1,356 (22)
    K Raikkonen 1,290 (18)
    F Massa 1,754 (23)
    F Alonso 1,466 (23)
    H Kovalainen 1,714 (23)

    So, my personal gess is Massa is light but he has struggled in Q3. If fact he was not very happy after the qualy and a little bit nervous (We have to work on the car… -in park fermé, I think)

    So, not very much issues with fuel load than Ferraris are lighter than McLarens. Nice start tomorrow!!!!!

    Last thing, or Bourdais has done a very bad Q3 or tomorrow he will be “The Trully train” (3,407 Secs difference between Q2 and Q3)

    Last thing. My gess for tomorrow is Lewis will have his head cold so, probably we will see Kimi in front, at least for the first stint. Massa could be a real danger for Lewis, I will not be very surprised if Massa and Lewis go out.

    If Massa is lighter, Fernando will not have any chance to be there, he will not be able to overtake Felipe (who is in the clean side)

    Great race for tomorrow!!!!

  13. It may be just me, but I find the alussion to Renault’s Alonso as the “third Ferrari” a bit childish and hardly compatible with the claimed impartiality of this site.

    Honestly, didn’t see it coming.

  14. The headline on ITV F1 says ‘Massa looks for race turnaround’. Not sure if he’s talking about his form/car or the fact that the stewards will reverse the result in his favour again!

  15. i dont think massa is heavier either. he’s struggling to find his pace, he himself said this. he’s simply slower than hamilton so i think he’s going to finish third (alonso is half a second slower than the two top teams – these are his words once again, and kovalainen hasn’t done well either).

    as for raikkonen, i heard he was using a different car setup since belgium – and since then he’s performing quite well taking a look on his pace (not his results hehe, he’s soo unlucky). so i think he will be able to get past lewis either at the first corner, or at the pitstops.


  16. I’m not sure Hamilton can afford to take it easy in the start tomorrow. If Raikonnen gets ahead at the start (and wants to be a team player) he then has a lot of possibilities to be a bit over-zealous defending his position in the first few turns against him, thus letting Massa sneak by on the inside and sprint off in the lead. In that scenario, depending on Hamilton’s pace after the start he could see his lead cut down to 3 or even 1 point going into Brazil.

  17. Kimi’s qualifying quote :
    Certainly, even putting aside what the choices have been in terms of fuel loads, today it would have been difficult to beat the McLaren

    I guess this means, he is fairly heavy.

    IDR; I don’t know how you reach your estimated first stint lengths (I would like to know, though). But I will be very surprised if you are correct tomorrow

  18. Two points:

    1. There’s a Constructor’s Championship to win here also. I’m sure the teams are more interested in that.

    2. RAAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNN!!!!! Bring on the Toro Rosso’s!

  19. Sumedh,

    I already expained some races ago in an specific thread of Keith talking about fuel load strategies.

    I must say that what the maths says, is not very accurate in most of the occasions but is quite accurate in showing who driver is lighter than other, unless the figures were so close.

    So, I still think Ferrari is lighter than McLaren. And for the Kimi’s quote you have posted one can read it as Raikkonen is telling McLaren has been faster despite we were lighter than tem, or in the other way arround, who knows.

    In any case, I cannot find any reason for putting Kimi with a car heavier than McLarens when all sessions McLaren has been quite a lot fast.

    Anyhow, maybe you are wright and the maths are wrong, tomorrow we all will know it!!!

  20. I genuinely feel that Lewis is not going pull it off in Shanghai and the new champion will be crowned only in Brazil. With ‘3’ Ferraris in the front two rows, it is an uphill task for Hamilton to win. But with both Massa and Hamilton showing difficult temperaments, it will be a test of nerves and the one who can stay calm, will take home the win and possibly, the title too !! Guess the weather might play its part too tomorrow ;) !!

  21. I for one would be happy to see Kubica win. Those 2 jokers, Massa and Hamilton, are equipped with cars that easily outclass Kubica’s in terms or raw speed and somehow they contrive to let in Kubica with a sniff.
    If Kubica does win the title, it is more about how the 2 jokers have let it slip by them than about how the BMW was the class of the field. I wont surprised if it happens though.

    And yes, Raikkonen just couldnt be arsed this year to retain his crown this year for some reason. The less said about Kovalenien’s abilities, the better.

  22. Given Lewis had a “perfect lap” and he has been faster all weekend I’d be surprised if he was super light. Personally I’d expect Kimi to stop a couple of laps before Lewis and Felipe (probably in about the same lap). IDR’s numbers don’t look crazy.

    On another point Hamilton looks as though he wants to get the job done tomorrow. Little celebration today – half job done – he’s fired up.

    I also reckon that Japan was the wake up call. Last year my guess is he put it down to ill luck (e.g. the Shanghai pit error was not his fault and nor was the technical glitch in Interlagos – yes, I know he had the fight with Fred in the opening corners. But Japan was probably the first time when he has had a chance to sit back and say yes, i did screw up badly.

    If he can’t hack the pressure how can he bang in 2 great qualy laps in Japan and China?

  23. It will be thrilling to see first corner battle between top four. As said by ‘Apostolos’. Three angry drivers behind Hamilton. I can’t wait to see this race.

  24. Watch KOV. He effed up his q3 lap but he was just as fast as HAM throughout qualifying. If he can get by Alonso early he will give Massa fits. If he ran his last lap as he did in q2 he could have been on pole. Nothing works out for this guy this year.

  25. Samuel… I hope you were being sarcastic because I think Keith was… 3 Ferraris is pretty funny!!

  26. @ Samuel post #13

    Samuel, given what ALO said two days ago, the comment by Keith is not childish at all. ALO went on to say that he will help MAS win the title.

    I would really like to see him do that on track particularly when he is ahead of MAS and just let MAS through to take his position — we will see Flavio’s reaction to that!

  27. MacademiaNut,

    I don’t think Alonso will do that. He don’t want to see Hamilton as champion but he will not help Massa in any way. He will play his own game.

  28. Does anyone think Hamilton may be 3 Stopping hence he super light?
    Driver skill/weather/tyre compounds can’t account for the sudden gap? This could explain how he’s been faster all through practice
    If Hamilton 3 stops it means;
    1. he’s fast off line,
    2. stays out trouble at start
    3. Increases wet weather options
    4. Minimises tyre graining

    I also think it’s McLaren who have the tyre problems here rather than Ferrari. The graining and tyre lock ups will surely mean that McLaren can’t run as consistlently fast as Ferraris?
    Furthermore is Kova very heavy? This keeps him away from 1st corner problem zone yet increases options to use him as a slow truck later in race?
    Thoughts anyone?

  29. Agree with Rahzam, Alonso put more pressure to Hamilton in order to make another mistake and with little luck finish on the podium, 1st place maybe :p

  30. I just had a horrible thought, “I can’t wait to see what the fuel corrected times are”

    shoot me.

  31. JMB,

    Its very unlikely; that anyone is on a 3-stopper. Mclaren might not be the best at tyre management, but it can definitely make the 2 hardest compounds work for a third of the race distance

  32. @sap, if it’s a joke… well I agree, It’s funny. But I see some people here believing Alonso wants to crash into Hamilton, or let Massa pass that I took it seriously. Lot of people seriously believed that he brake tested Hamilton on purpose because he hates McLaren!!.

    The image of Alonso is so distorted and manipulated in some british media that it’s hard to distinguish if it’s a joke or not.

  33. @Samuel,
    Alonso has gone on to clarify what exactly he meant by that statement. If Massa is behind him and is clearly faster, he will not make himself too difficult to pass, but on the other hand, if its Hamilton behind him, then he will race him. Only childish minds will talk about him crashing Hamilton out. But if he can find a way to disturb his rhythm then he would even if the consequence is a crash.

  34. Lewis is not the best driver yet but it is still early days for him . Senna was the best in my eyes and will stay a legend. I think Ferrari ars more dangerous than lewis. How many pit lane blunders have they had, and i am sure we are yet to see one of their pit crew being dragged out the pit lane attatched to the fuel filling hose. Yes the F.I.A are bias towards ferrari. As for the statement Alonso made in helping other drivers win races is outright unfair and he should be penalised . It is the sport of motorracing so let them race. Come on Lewis get the title this year Britain needs an F1 champion. GOOD LUCK

  35. Samuel – Given that Alonso’s said he hopes he can help Massa win the title, it’s a perfectly fair remark.

    “Hardly compatible with the claimed impartiality of this site.” I make no such claim and anyone who does is deluded. Impartiality is impossible – you can strive for it, but you can never attain it. Everyone carries their own experiences, beliefs and assumptions with them and it inevitably has a bearing on how they see things. I’m satisfied what I write is fair, and I certainly did not suggest Alonso would hit Hamilton deliberately (see the link in the above paragraph).

  36. a bit childish and hardly compatible with the claimed impartiality of this site.

    calling a Renault a Ferrari doesn’t stop impartiality, you pear.

    Childish? somewhat, funny? hell yeah.

  37. good point Keith, the only way to be impartial is to not be interested in this sport, in which case this site wouldn’t exist.

  38. Well said Keith. BTW I wonder how many impartial blog sites there are in Spain or Italy.

  39. Ok……Now back to the racing!!! That’s you included Keith!

    Lewis might not be as light as some think but I have the feeling he really thrashed his tyres in quali and if previous races this year are anything to go off then look to some serious issues for McLaren, especially if it stays as warm as it has been.

    Also, although there is a chance of rain it’s forecast as showers so the temperature won’t change too much, meaning previous form regarding Ferrari’s in the wet doesn’t apply, as significantly.

    By the way, I would like to see points awarded for the top 8 in quali. Would make for an interesting twist in terms of strategies and the value of getting pole. Perhaps more off the current back markers would make the top ten more frequently?

  40. OK guys, let’s settle the issue of who’s faster this weekend and by how much, relative fuel loads and race pace.

    a) Q-pace: Lewis is clearly faster in Q trim, by 2-3 tenths, over 1 or 2 laps. He’s been consistently quickest of all in his short runs in practice. From my post-Q analysis, I now understand that Ferrari already knew at the end of Q1 that they couldn’t challenge Lewis for pole. This explains why they were not anywhere near the top of the timesheets in P2 or P3. This tells me then that they placed all their preparation focus on race-pace.

    (b) Fuel loads: I estimate that a lap’s worth of fuel on this track introduces about a 2-tenths penalty (1.5-2 tenths). Massa was a little less than 2 tenths behind Lewis in Q2. I think Q2 times are the most accurate representation of car performance, since fuel loads are virtually identical, at least between the top teams. So I say that w/ the same fuel load, the MP4-28 is between 1.5 and 2 tenths better than the F2008. In Q3, Massa was almost 6 tenths behind Lewis. Take away 2 tenths due to the car, and it says that he is probably heavier than Lewis by 2 laps. On the other hand, Kimi, who was slower than Massa all throughout Q1 and Q2, was 3.5 tenths behind Lewis in Q3. Kimi was about 2 tenths slower than Massa in Q2, so if he had the same fuel load as Massa in Q3 he should have been 8 tenths behind Lewis. Being only 3.5 tenths slower, suggests that Kimi is carrying about 4.5 tenths’ worth less fule than Massa, or 3 laps. So Kimi is a lap lighter than Lewis. This makes sense: Ferrari wanted Kimi to simply make sure he started ahead of Kovalainen and Alonso, to ensure that only a Ferrari is between Lewis and Massa. And, he can now potentially challenge for the lead at the first turn (or two).

    (c) Race pace: Assuming my fuel-load analysis is correct, Ferrari’s has got to be thinking along either of these lines: (i) Kimi overtakes Lewis at the start, Massa follows Lewis up close until the 1st stops and overtakes him during the 1st or 2nd stops. If Massa can do that, it is not out of the question that Kimi will be told to let Massa pass him also (if he is still in the lead, late in the race). Regardless, this senario reduces Massa’s deficit to Lewis to 3 points from 5. (ii) If Kimi can’t overtake Lewis at the start, let Massa go by at turn 1 or 2. The rest of it essentially plays out as case (i). There is another, wilder, thought of course, which is that Kimi forces Lewis wide at turn 1 and Massa passes both from the inside. Not likely, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it happens.

    Now, if Ferrari completely nail this, Massa AND Kimi overtake Lewis at the start, Massa wins, Kimi gets 2nd and we go to Interlagos virtually tied at the top. Of course, everything I said in part (c) assumes that Ferrari has superior race-pace than McLaren, and I think they do, especially when they do their stints w/ the option tire (medium). Something tells me the reds will go option for 2 of their 3 stints.

    In any case, this has the potential to be the best race of the season. If Lewis can make a clean start and win the race, he will be a worthy champion, since I don’t think there is any way Massa can come back from a 7-point deficit (best case), if he loses in Shanghai (he is not Kimi).

  41. I don’t think there is any way Massa can come back from a 7-point deficit (best case), if he loses in Shanghai (he is not Kimi).

    But Lewis will still be Lewis, and Brazil 2007 was more about Lewis blowing it (by running wide trying to have a go at Alonso, followed by that electronics issue) than Kimi winning it (Massa DID give way for him).

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