Sebastian Vettel Storms to China Pole Position

There will be no BGP 001 car on the front row of the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. Sebastian Vettel took care of business on Saturday and clinched his maiden pole position this year – second of his career – ahead of the surprising Renault R29 driven by double-time world champion Fernando Alonso.

It seemed it was going to be an all-Red Bull front row in China on Sunday, as Vettel topped the time charts in the last minute of the Q3 – 1:36.184 – ahead of teammate Mark Webber. Only seconds later, however, Alonso put himself in a great position for the tomorrow race, pushing his R29 to the limit and taking second place, some 0.197 seconds back. The interim rear diffuser put in place by Renault for Alonso this morning did the job just fine.

The Brawn GP duo only managed the 4th and 5th time on the Shanghai grid, only this time it was Rubens Barrichello to record the best time, ahead of teammate Jenson Button. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli will start the Sunday race from 6th place, while followed by Williams’ Nico Rosberg – who ran the Q3 with the highest amount of fuel from all the Top 10 qualifiers.

Ferrari managed to get one of their drivers into the Top 10, despite their obvious lack of performance this weekend, as Kimi Raikkonen scored the 8th best time of the Q3. Completing the Top 10 was McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi (qualified for Q3 for the first time).

On the downside, the clear disappointments of the day were BMW Sauber’s drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, recording only the 11th and 18th best times of the day respectively. Felipe Massa will also start the race from a disappointing 13th place, behind McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen. Sepang’s podium finisher Timo Glock will start the race from 19th place, as he received a 5-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.

Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima again failed to make it pass the Q2 and will start the race from 14th place, thanks to Glock’s demotion. The grid was completed by Renault’s Nelson Piquet – not benefiting from the new diffuser introduced on Alonso’s car – and the two Force India drivers Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella.
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