The Chinese GP qualifying session was an odd one, with teams opting for strategy over outright speed in the final top 10 shoot out.  The final Q3 session passed 8minutes without a car on track before they all piled out to get a lap in right at the end.

Hamilton grabbed pole position ahead of Raikkonen and Alonso with usual pole sitter, Sebastian Vettel down in 9th after a ‘brake issue’.  That comment is in quotes, because by not setting a time for the session, he has a free choice of tyres.  Pretty drastic strategy call if my cynicism rings true.

Mark Webber had a tricky time of it, fuel pump issues leaving him out of Q3 and down in 14th for the start.  It was also a difficult day for Williams with their drivers starting 15th and 17th, in fact if it wasn’t for the struggling Gutierrez in the Sauber, both Williams cars could have been knocked out in Q1.

Jules Bianchi impressed again, significantly quicker than his team mate and the quickest of the “new” teams.  Despite being 0.8s quicker than Chilton, Bianchi said he was disappointed and could have been quicker.  Applauds also to Daniel Ricciardo who popped his Toro Rosso up into the top 10.

Not sure we’re a fan of this bizarre qualifying form today, wouldn’t want to take anything away from Hamilton’s brilliant pole position for Mercedes, but having Seb Vettel not setting a time, along with Ricciardo just isn’t right, along with Jenson’s “wasn’t sure how slow I could go” lap either.

Here’s how the grid looks for Sunday.

Update – Webber has been demoted to 22nd and last following his car being found to not have enough fuel.

PosDriverTeamBestDiff
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1'34.484-
2Kimi RaikkonenLotus1'34.7610.277
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'34.7880.304
4Nico RosbergMercedes1'34.8610.377
5Felipe MassaFerrari1'34.9330.449
6Romain GrosjeanLotus1'35.3640.880
7Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1'35.9981.514
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren2'05.67331.189
9Sebastian VettelRed Bull-No time
10Nico HulkenbergSauber-No time
11Paul Di RestaForce India1'36.2871.803
12Sergio PeŽrezMcLaren1'36.3141.830
13Adrian SutilForce India1'36.4051.921
14Pastor Maldonado
Williams1'37.1392.655
15Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1'37.1992.715
16Valtteri BottasWilliams1'37.7693.285
17E.GutierrezSauber1'37.9903.506
18Jules BianchiMarussia1'38.7804.296
19Max ChiltonMarussia1'39.5375.053
20Charles PicCaterham1'39.6145.130
21G.van der GardeCaterham1'39.6605.176
22*Mark WebberRed Bull1'36.6792.195