Our F1 expert James Punt has already written an in depth preview of the Chinese Grand Prix. You should check it out by clicking here. He has also revealed his thoughts on the Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying session and you can read them below…
Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying: Nothing Between The Top Teams
The first two free practice sessions shows the top three teams very close in terms of lap times. Vettel was fastest in FP1, 0.2 faster than Lewis Hamilton. In FP2 it was Valtteri Bottas who was fastest but only by 0.02 to Vettel.
Leclerc’s car had a problem with a coolant leak which disrupted his session and he has looked a little off the pace of Vettel so far. The long run pace of the top 3 teams was within a few tenths of each other so a close race looks in prospect come Sunday.
For qualifying Ferrari should have the edge. They are faster on the two long straights while Mercedes have been able to keep in touch by being faster in the corners. Hamilton isn’t happy with the balance of his car and he was well off the pace in FP2. He was just over 0.7 off the pace of his team mate. He will be working with his engineers to find a better set up for FP3 and qualifying but he sounds a bit downbeat about his chances.
Mercedes will not have been helped by a ruling that their new front wing design featuring modified end plates is illegal. It will have to be modified for Saturday. The same goes for Red Bull. These little tweaks to the wing were never going to be giving a big increase in performance but they are not going to be faster by being forced to make changes or run with an old wing. It is a small negative for those two teams and when things are very close it may make a difference.
No Value In Backing Vettel
Vettel has been the most consistent performer so far and it may be possible for Ferrari to make some changes to their car to improve performance in the corners. The others will not be able to make changes to be able to match Ferrari on the straights. Yes they could take off more wing but then they would be slower in the corners. So it looks like Ferrari still favourites for pole position.
Vettel is the 2.40 favourite which isn’t great value and with a disrupted preparation on a track where he has little form on, Leclerc looks short on value at 3.00. He may come good after FP3 but his big chance will come in the race rather than in qualifying. Bottas makes some appeal at 8.50 but I can see him just coming up short against the Ferrari in qualifying.
We have picked the pole position driver for the first two races but there is little worth taking a chance on for tomorrows qualifying. It seems better to skip the session from a punting point of view and concentrate on the race on Sunday.