Rain was unrelenting in the qualifying session of the Chinese GP in Shanghai as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton led the way yet again - his third pole position this season.
Hamilton (1m 53.860s), who has more poles (34 poles) than any other British driver, was well ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo (1m 54.455s) thanks to changes made to his car overnight considering the weather conditions. Ricciardo's teammate Sebastian Vettel (1m 54.906s) too made the best of his car to pip ahead of Nico Rosberg's (1m 55.143s) Mercedes.
Hamilton's car changes came after a not so bright performance in the practice sessions which were mostly dry. His car is now more suited to the wet conditions but the weather forecast for the race is dry. Hamilton, though, will hope to convert his pole position to a positive race performance and make it three wins in a row.
"It was a tough session today, but I really enjoyed it," Hamilton said on Saturday after the qualifying. "It's definitely the most satisfying feeling to come away with pole position in these wet conditions because the track is so slippery and you need to find the grip to put the lap together.
"The car felt great and the team have done a fantastic job this weekend. Our rivals look closer in the wet conditions, so we'll be hoping it's a dry race to take advantage of the position we're in."
The British racer stands fourth in the all-time list for most pole positions and going into the race, he rates his chances pretty high.
"We go into the race with a little bit of an unknown because after I struggled in practice on Friday," Hamilton added. "We made a lot of changes to the car and I haven't yet had a chance to try them in the dry. It felt pretty good in the wet, though, so I'm hopeful that we can convert our pole position into a strong race performance tomorrow."
For Force India however, it wasn't the best of days. The conditions didn't go well with the drivers and their cars. Nico Hulkenberg (1m 56.366s) did well enough to stand eight with his VJM07 but Perez struggled in both practice and qualifying. Asked whether he can recreate the Bahrain podium finish, Perez said it would be difficult given the wet conditions. Not until Barcelona will Force India see a major update in their cars, so they have to make do with what they have unlike other top teams in the race.
"My guess is that this will be difficult, but then many things will depend on the conditions," the Mexican said. "We knew that this China weekend would be a tough one for us as we only have brought a small update, whereas some of our competitors came here with some quite massive changes.
"The goal is clear: defend what we have. Our big update will come in Barcelona and until then we have to ensure we don't lose too much ground."
Where to Watch Live:
Formula One: Chinese GP Live Streaming Information (Race starts 3.00 pm local time, 12.30 pm IST, 7.00 am GMT):
|India||Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD2|
|United Kingdom||BBC, Sky Sports|
|Middle East and North Africa||Bein Sports Arabia|
|Germany, Italy||Sky Sport|
|UK||HERE or HERE or HERE|
|Germany and Italy||HERE or HERE|
After the qualifying, the grid reads:
Hamilton, Ricciardo; Vettel, Rosberg; Alonso, Massa; Bottas, Hulkenberg; Vergne, Grosjean; Raikkonen, Button; Kvyat, Sutil; Magnussen, Perez; Gutierrez, Kobayashi; Bianchi, Ericsson; Chilton, Maldonado.