It has to be said – pretty much everyone expected to see the Red Bull of Vettel grab pole position, and he did do just that, however, it won’t be all smiles at Red Bull – the other side of the garage especially, with Mark Webber having a shocking early exit in the first round of qualifying.

Another difficult start to the weekend for Webber - Red Bull Media

Here’s qualifying as it happened…

Qualifying Round 1 – Webber Bows Out

Disaster of epic proportions for Mark Webber as he dropped out of qualifying in only the first round with yet more problems for his Red Bull Racing car.  He joined the usual suspects of HRT, Virgin and Lotus to fill the bottom seven places on the grid.  Jerome D’Ambrosio managed to out qualify Timo Glock in the Virgin for the first time this season and all cars were successfully within 107% of the best time – which was set by Nico Rosberg – a time of 1’35.272.

18Mark WebberRed Bull1'36.4680.794100.8%
20Jarno TrulliLotus1'38.3182.644102.8%
22Timo GlockVirgin1'39.7084.034104.2%
23Vitantonio LiuzziHRT1'40.2124.538104.7%

Qualifying Round 2 – The Mini Grand Prix

The 2011 season is shaping up to have quite a large mid-field, with no clear gap between Force India, Williams, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Renault and Mercedes – i.e. all of them have a great shot of joining the regulars of Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren in the top 10 shootout.

After setting a quick time, Petrov literally dropped out of the session with his car parked out on track, stuck in gear causing the session to be red flagged.  He may have finished in the top 10, but he cannot take part in the rest of the session – so just 9 cars to compete in the final round for pole position.

Once the session was going again following Petrov’s car being cleared, all the cars, besides McLaren, Toro Rosso and the sole remaining Red Bull headed out on track for a chaotic end to the 2nd session that resembled more a mini grand prix than a qualifying session with cars battling for some clear air.

11Adrian SutilForce India1'35.8741.388104.0%
12Sergio PerezSauber1'36.0531.567104.5%
13Kamui KobayashiSauber1'36.2361.750105.1%
16Nick HeidfeldRenault1'36.6112.125106.2%
17Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1'36.9562.470107.2%

Qualifying Round 3 – 2nd Place Shootout, who will start behind Seb?

With Webber going out in the first round of qualifying, the fight for pole position (going on form from the previous two this season) was between just Vettel, Hamilton and Button.  Petrov took up 10th place by default – he couldn’t take part in this final session after stopping in round 2.

Sebastian Vettel set a time of 1’33.706 on his first run, which is the fastest lap ever around the Shanghai International Circuit and laid down the target for everyone else.  As it turned out, the target was more than anyone else could manage.  Button came in 2nd, with Lewis just behind in 3rd.  Rosberg’s 4th will cheer up the bods in Mercedes GP and Di Resta impresses yet again with a solid 8th position in only his 3rd grand prix.  It’s no disaster for Ferrari, but the Italians will still be unhappy that they have nothing to do with the battle for pole position yet again.

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull1'33.706-
2Jenson ButtonMcLaren1'34.4210.715
3Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1'34.4630.757
4Nico RosbergMercedes1'34.6700.964
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'35.1191.413
6Felipe MassaFerrari1'35.1451.439
7J.AlguersuariToro Rosso1'36.1582.452
8Paul Di RestaForce India1'36.1902.484
9Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso1'36.2032.497
10Vitaly PetrovRenault--
Jenson grabs a front row result for McLaren - McLaren Media