|Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen qualified 10th and 11th, respectively, for the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday at Shanghai International Circuit.
Grosjean set the fifth-fastest time in Q1 with a lap of 1:33.238 around the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn track. Magnussen was seventh quickest with a lap of 1:33.359. Only the top-15 drivers move on to Q2.
In Q2, Grosjean earned the sixth-fastest time with a lap of 1:32.524 to advance to Q3. Magnussen qualified 11th with a time of 1:32.986, just missing the top-10 cutoff to get into Q3 by a scant .016 of a second.
Q3 featured the heavy hitters of Formula One, with 16-time champion Scuderia Ferrari, four-time and reigning champion Mercedes and four-time champion Red Bull combining to take the top-six spots. Grosjean slotted into the 10th position, knocking down a lap of 1:32.855 to pick up his second-best qualifying effort of 2018, bookending his seventh-place qualifying drive from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Tire choice during qualifying varied between the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire and the Purple ultrasoft tire. Grosjean ran the ultrasoft exclusively in Q1 and Q2. He switched to the soft for his first run in Q3, but returned to the ultrasoft to set his fast lap. Magnussen used the soft tire for his first run in Q1 before transitioning to the ultrasoft to set his quick time. He stayed on the ultrasoft in Q2.
The tire choices were strategic for both qualifying and the race, as the top-10 drivers must start the race on the tires they used to qualify. Those outside the top-10 can start the race on a new set of tires of their choosing. With the Purple ultrasoft good for only a handful of quick laps before a drastic performance drop due to degradation, the Yellow soft is the preferred tire, as it strikes a balance between performance and durability. Grosjean will start the Chinese Grand Prix on the same set of ultrasofts he used to qualify, while Magnussen can bolt on a new set of softs for the race.
Taking the pole for the Chinese Grand Prix was Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The four-time champion put down a lap of 1:31.095 to win the pole by just .087 of a second over his teammate, Kimi Räikkönen. The track record lap, which bested the previous record of 1:31.678 by .583 of a second set last year in Q3 by Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, gave Ferrari a front-row lockout for the second straight race. This was Vettel’s 52nd career Formula One pole, his second of the season and his fourth at Shanghai. Räikkönen, meanwhile, has qualified second in every race this season.
Before Grosjean, Magnussen and the rest of their Formula One counterparts participated in knockout qualifying, they had one final practice (FP3) to dial in their racecars for a quick lap around the track.
Magnussen performed a 19-lap stint on the Purple ultrasoft tire to start and then followed it up with a six-lap drive on Yellow softs. It was on the softs that Magnussen earned his quick time – a 1:34.329 on his 22nd lap that put him sixth overall. Grosjean, on the other hand, was limited to just six laps. He ran only on ultrasofts after a brake-by-wire issue created an overheating problem with his rear brakes. Grosjean could only muster a best time of 1:35.756, earned on his fourth tour, which placed him 20th on the speed chart.
The top of FP3 provided a prelude to qualifying, as Vettel was fastest with a lap of 1:33.018 that was .451 of a second better than his nearest pursuer, Räikkönen.
“This morning, we had our problem (with the brake-by-wire) and the team did an amazing job to put the car back together. There was a lot of work on the car. The engineers changed quite a lot on the setup last night to give me a better feeling in the car, which was great to have today. So, I’m really pleased with all of that. I was very pleased to get through to Q3. Our position in Q3 is not ideal. On the last lap, we didn’t have the grip we had earlier on in the session. We just need to analyze that and make sure we understand why. Tomorrow, the first stint is going to be the key. We’re starting on the ultrasoft, and everyone behind is going to start on the better tire (the soft), but we can work from there.”
“It’s a little bit disappointing to not progress into Q3. I had a bad out lap, and with these tires, at this track, it’s a very narrow window to get them to work. If you don’t hook it up perfectly on the warmup, you lose a lot of performance. On top of that, it wasn’t a perfect lap. I think P11 is perhaps not so bad a qualifying position. We have a free choice of tire to start the race, so that’s a bonus. The car is pretty good. If we can hook it up tomorrow and have a good race, I’m sure we can score some points.”
“It was quite a good qualifying. We’re in quite a good position to be in the points tomorrow. If there’s a place you want to qualify 11th, this is the place, and that’s where we are with Kevin. With Romain, we were already happy just to get him out in time for qualifying, as we had the issue in FP3 with the brake-by-wire. It was a good job from the team to get the car ready again, and we ended up qualifying in the top-10. I’m looking forward to tomorrow because I think we’ve got a very good chance to get two cars in the points for the first time this year.”
Haas F1 Team PR