The 2012 season becomes yet more intriguing with each race weekend – today Mercedes finally delivered on expectations with pole position for Nico Rosberg.  It is the team’s first pole since the days of Fangio.

Sebastian Vettel had a disaster of a day, failing to even make it through to the final session, leaving him down in 11th for the start.  Webber, on the other hand, took his Red Bull through to Q3, but along with the McLaren, Sauber and Lotus, he was unable to challenge Rosberg’s time for pole position.

Ferrari’s troubles continued – Massa dropped out in Q2, with Alonso only just nipping through, but come Q3 and even Alonso couldn’t do enough to take his Ferrari into the main battle, leaving him 9th.

On the flipside, Sauber’s terrific season continues with both cars in the top 10 and Kamui Kobayashi up in 3rd, behind Michael Schumacher and ahead of Kimi Raikkonen – really up in the thick of it.  Jenson Button left it too late in Q3 to really fight for pole leaving him down in 5th, just ahead of Mark Webber.

Looking beyond the front running teams and we have a perfect Noah’s Ark style line up with both Williams ahead of both Force Indias, ahead of both Toro Rossos, promptly followed by the common pattern of Caterham, Marussia and HRT.

Provisional Starting Grid

1Nico RosbergMercedes1'35.121-
3Kamui KobayashiSauber/Ferrari1'35.7840.663
4Kimi Rau008aikkou009anenLotus/Renault1'35.8980.777
5Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Mercedes1'36.1911.070
6Mark WebberRed Bull/Renault1'36.2901.169
7Lewis HamiltonMcLaren/Mercedes1'35.6260.505
8Sergio Peu008erezSauber/Ferrari1'36.5241.403
9Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'36.6221.501
10Romain GrosjeanLotus/Renault--
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull/Renault1'36.0310.910
12Felipe MassaFerrari1'36.2551.134
13Pastor MaldonadoWilliams/Renault1'36.2831.162
14Bruno SennaWilliams/Renault1'36.2891.168
15Paul Di RestaForce India/Mercedes1'36.3171.196
16Nico Huu009flkenbergForce India/Mercedes1'36.7451.624
17Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso/Ferrari1'36.9561.835
19Vitaly PetrovCaterham/Renault1'38.6773.556
20Timo GlockMarussia/Cosworth1'39.2824.161
21Charles PicMarussia/Cosworth1'39.7174.596
22Pedro de la RosaHRT/Cosworth1'40.4115.290
24Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso/Ferrari1'37.7142.593
Rosberg on his way pole position in China - credit: Mercedes F1 Media