Vettel - eyeing up the championship? © Getty / RBR Media

Finally, a thrilling qualifying session with a proper battle for pole position – but yet again Vettel works his magic and leads a Red Bull 1-2, leaving McLaren and Ferrari scratching their heads trying to figure out how to fight back.  Here’s qualifying as it happened from China.

Round 1

As expected the six ‘new team’ cars all failed to make it through to the second round.  Timo Glock will have made Branson happy with his performance, putting his Virgin car ahead of the Lotus motors.  While Branson will be happy, Vijay Mallya will be fuming.  Tonio Liuzzi, who has performed well so far this season, ended the first round in 17th and therefore took no further part in qualifying.

It’s hardly what the Force India team had in mind after saying they were targeting Renault in the constructors championship during the build up to the Chinese Grand Prix.  Here’s the time sheet after round 1, the gentlemen in bold are knocked out.

Round 2

For Michael Schumacher, it was touch and go for a few moments at the end of this session but yet again he scraped through in 10th.  Rubens Barrichello just missed out, finishing 11th leaving Williams without a car in the top 10.  Both Renault and Force India will be smiling, with Kubica and Sutil getting themselves well into the top 10 for the final shoot out.

Both Saubers, Toro Rossos and Williams cars filled the bottom 7 in this round along with Vitaly Petrov – here’s the full timesheet.

Round 3

Vettel took the early lead, looking to make it yet another pole position.  Hamilton and Button were quick but not quick enough, with Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso out performing the practice pace-setters.  Webber looked comfortable in P1 with only Vettel on a flying lap in the dying moments of qualifying… but somehow, even to the surprise of his engineers, Sebastian Vettel did it again and gave Red Bull another qualifying 1-2 result.

Elsewhere in the top 10, Kubica will be happy to get his Renault through in 7th, just ahead of Schumacher and Sutil.