By Alex Kapadia
Mercedes clinched first and second place on the grid ahead of tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix after using the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tyres to great effect.
Nico Rosberg will enjoy his first pole, with team-mate and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher lining up alongside him.
Rosberg was fastest by half a second, having made the most of the rear tyres in particular to ensure that he had the right amount of traction – one of the key areas in Shanghai – to set a dominant
He completed only one run during the final qualifying session, giving himself an extra set of soft tyres for tomorrow’s race.
All three qualifying sessions were extremely competitive: the top 17 in qualifying one were covered by just 0.8 seconds, while just 0.3 seconds separated the top 10 at the end of qualifying two.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “We’d like to congratulate Nico Rosberg and Mercedes on their achievements today. The way that Nico, Michael and the Mercedes used the tyres was superb.
“The small gaps between the drivers during the first two sessions showed the tight level of competition that we can expect tomorrow, with the difference between the two compounds still expected to be between 0.6-0.8 seconds per lap and two to three pit stops expected per car.
“Once more, the Sauber team did an excellent job with the tyres, and fourth-fastest time in qualifying for Kamui certainly reflects that.
“Tyre degradation in China is traditionally quite high: the teams were clearly trying to save tyres where they could today and tyre strategy is clearly going to be crucial.
“There is only a low probability of rain expected tomorrow, but the track could be a bit damp in the morning, so we might see some humid conditions at the very start of the race.”