SHANGHAI, China -- ESPN rounds up the main talking points from qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix where Sebastian Vettel pipped teammate Kimi Raikkonen to pole position by 0.087s.
Shock: How Raikkonen didn't secure pole position in China we will never know. The Finn had been quick throughout the entire weekend, consistently ahead of his teammate, and had his name on the top of the timesheets as the chequered flag came out in Q3. The only driver who could deny him was Vettel and, sure enough, the German pulled a lap out of the bag when he had to, crossing the start-finish line and leapfrogging Raikkonen by less than a tenth of a second.
Shocker: There aren't too many days where a Mercedes struggles on a race track, particularly in China, but Saturday was certainly one of them. The Silver Arrows had absolutely no answer for the pace of the Ferraris, finishing almost six tenths off the Scuderia. It was a day to forget for Lewis Hamilton who was consistently off the pace of teammate Valtteri Bottas and in the end had to settle for P4, behind his teammate. Bottas is now 2-1 against Hamilton in qualifying this season.
Red Bull working overtime: After Daniel Ricciardo's turbo blew up during FP3, Christian Horner said Red Bull would need to "work a miracle" in order to get the engine fixed in time for qualifying. But credit has to be given to the crew who managed to get the Australian on track with just three minutes remaining in Q1, giving him enough time to set a lap which was good enough to earn him a place in Q2. Ricciardo will start the race in P6, alongside teammate Max Verstappen, and you can bet Red Bull would have taken that after final practice.
Midfield madness continues: The evenness and unpredictability of the midfield this year has rolled on to China with Renault, Haas, Force India and McLaren once again locked in a tight battle. In Q2 just 0.3s separated five cars from ninth to 13th and with mixed tyre strategies we appear to be set for another enthralling race for the lower points positions. Unfortunately for Toro Rosso, after the high of Bahrain six days ago, they were unable to join the fight and were forced to settle for P15 and P17 on the grid.
Strategy watch: Ferrari and Mercedes both opted to run and set their quickest laps on the soft compound during Q2 and as a result will start Sunday's race on that tyre -- what many believe to be the preferred strategy. The Red Bulls were forced into running the ultra-soft as were the Renaults and Force India's Sergio Perez who also qualified inside the top 10. Kevin Magnussen, who starts P11, will almost certainly start on the soft tyre and should make some progress by running a longer first stint.
Star of the session: Raikkonen has really been the star of the weekend so far and can consider himself quite unlucky to not be on pole position. But you have to give Vettel credit, he just knows when to perform and that's why he's a four-time world champion.
Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix U.S. coverage presented by Mothers Polish (All times Eastern)
On the Grid - Sunday, April 15 - 1:30AM - ESPN2
Race - Sunday, April 15 - 2:05AM - ESPN2
Encore - Sunday April 15 - 1:00PM - ESPNEWS
Encore - Sunday, April 15 - 09:00PM - ESPN2