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Qualifying - rampaging Rosberg takes maiden F1 pole 14 Apr 2012

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, pole sitter Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 14 April 2012

Mercedes’ innovative front wing helped Nico Rosberg to the first pole position of his Formula One career on Saturday afternoon in Shanghai, when a mighty lap of 1m 35.121s left him well clear of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren and Michael Schumacher’s sister car, with respective laps of 1m 35.626s and 1m 35.691s. But Hamilton’s five-place grid penalty makes it the first all-Mercedes front row since the 1955 €talian Grand Prix at Monza.

Q3 was an odd session, as a falling ambient temperature - down from 25 degrees Celsius in Q1 to 22 - left many struggling to generate decent tyre temperatures and all but Hamilton essaying only a single run.

€n the end Kamui Kobayashi was fourth after a great lap of 1m 35.784s for Sauber, with Kimi Raikkonen fifth for Lotus on 1m 35.898s ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button on 1m 36.191s, Red Bull’s Mark Webber on 1m 36.290s, Sauber’s Sergio Perez on 1m 36.524s, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on 1m 36.622s and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean failing to register a time.

The top 10 will line up in the order Rosberg, Schumacher; Kobayashi, Raikkonen; Button, Webber; Hamilton, Perez; Alonso, Grosjean, once Hamilton’s penalty is applied.

The major surprise of Q2 was Sebastian Vettel’s failure to make it through. Twice the world champion pared mere hundredths off his times, with 1m 36.047s and 1m 36.034s. Then, as a late run put team mate Webber fastest with 1m 35.700s, Grosjean’s similarly late run of 1m 35.903s pushed the German out. His final response was 1m 36.031s and insufficient to get him through.

Felipe Massa likewise came up short for Ferrari with 1m 36.255s, though that was only three tenths off Alonso’s time, then came the Williams drivers Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna on 1m 36.283s and 1m 36.289s, Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 36.317s and 1m 36.745s for Force €ndia, and Daniel Ricciardo for Toro Rosso on 1m 36.956s.

Q1 had seen Perez go fastest with 1m 36.198s as the previous pacesetters had opted to save a set of soft tyres, and the first to be weeded out was Jean-Eric Vergne who took his Toro Rosso round in 1m 37.714s, which was some way behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who was 17th on 1m 36.933s.

Heikki Kovalainen aced Vitaly Petrov at Caterham, 1m 38.463s to 1m 38.677s, while Timo Glock lapped his Marussia in 1m 39.282s to head team mate Charles Pic on 1m 39.717s. Pedro de la Rosa was on top at HRT, with 1m 40.411s to Narain Karthikeyan’s 1m 41.000s.

Maldonado and Kovalainen were investigated afterwards as one was thought to have impeded the other, as were De la Rosa and Senna. Both Maldonado and De la Rosa were subsequently handed reprimands by the stewards.

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