Chinese Grand Prix
April 17, 2011 by staff
Chinese Grand Prix, Championship leader Sebastian Vettel underlined his superiority by assault on the pole position for the China Grand Prix on Sunday with the fastest lap ever recorded at the Shanghai circuit.
The 23-year-old Red Bull clocked one minute 33.706 seconds, seven tenths of a second faster than McLaren’s Briton Jenson Button, sending a strong message to rivals that the German is still the man to beat.
For the pole, world champion Vettel became the first driver in Formula One since Michael Schumacher in to start in the front of the grid in the first three races of the season.
But despite winning the opening two races this year in Australia and Malaysia, Vettel said he was taking nothing for granted on the day of the race.
“Obviously, we did it again but I try to remind myself and the team that is increasingly difficult,” Vettel told reporters.
“Everything starts from scratch again on Sunday. We are as happy as can be with the car, we had good long runs on Friday, so we have reason to feel good,” he said.
“It’s not easy … but people tend to forget that.”
Saturday’s qualifying completed a hat trick of pole placement in China for Vettel, who has dominated the season so far and now seems unstoppable.
McLaren button came in one minute .421 seconds, with teammate and fellow Briton Lewis Hamilton in third place in a time of one minute 34,463.
Hamilton joked that the trio of Vettel’s pole positions this season meant the champion was finding life “too easy”, but the German Red Bull said he could not afford to be complacent.
“Teams like McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are not as happy as they want to be,” said Vettel. “They are pushing very hard, so stay where we are, we must push harder than staying there.
“We are all aware of that, and since 2009 – half of 2009 – we had a car very, very competitive and we are enjoying running at the front, but we have not forgotten how it feels to run in the back.”
His compatriot Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes and two Spanish worlds champion Fernando Alonso in Ferrari finished fourth and fifth respectively, with Brazilian Felipe Massa, also in a Ferrari, completing the third row.
But Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber had another terrible day and could not improve in the post 18 from the start in qualifying, nearly three seconds behind the championship leader.
Red Bull euphoria Vettel’s performance, which saw demand for the post with six minutes of the session remaining, was tempered by Webber understandably disastrous exit.
“It was a really great first round of Seb,” said team boss Christian Horner.
“We were not sure what the pace of Lewis would be, so he ran again, but it turned out that it was unnecessary -. As voids around and came to save the tires”
On a cool day at the Shanghai International Circuit, where the track temperature was only 23 degrees Celsius, the Australian Webber struggled to keep pace with the hard tires.
“It was a terrible day for Mark,” said Horner. “I had some electrical problems this morning and it was a massive effort to get the car ready.
“It is a great race in the first place. We went back in prime numbers and unfortunately the tires were not quite at the temperature and did not work.”
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