Vettel (1:33:70) maintained his consistently strong performance in free practice, then going onto secure pole for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. Unlike his team mate, Mark Webber, who’s practice sessions had been fraught with a number of mechanical issues. Taking the RedBull car out on the prime tyres, his Q1 session was riddled with understeer, a lack of speed and non-existent KERS, so he struggled to within the 107% only to have Pastor Maldonado push him out into the cold with a slight nudge and take P10.
Fuming he sulked around the garage, whilst the Ferrari team, for a second race running, put both drivers out on two sets of option tyres. Initially this strategy seemed to be paying off as they secured P1 and P2 in Q1. It was not to last as Petrov, showing glimmers of the underdog spirit, taking P1 back just before the end of Q1. In Q2, the Russian put in a flying lap, which secured P4, until a hydraulics failure brought his car to a complete standstill, much to the dissatisfaction of other drivers, notably Barrichello.
Officials red-flagged the session with just over two minutes to go. Cue a scramble into the pits to ensure access at the restart to the frontrunners. Young Sergio Perez won this minor battle, but failed to stave off Alonso, who would only eventually manage a P5.
The restart offered an exciting end to the session, as drivers battled to gain times that would secure a start from the top ten grid positions tomorrow and the McLarens made good use of this, Button (1:34:42) finishing on the front row for the first time since Italy last season and Hamilton in third (1:34:46).
Schumacher continued his frustrated return to Formula One, failing to compete in the second session and being outshone by his teammate, Nico Rosberg, who secured P4. Not the only experienced driver usurped by his younger teammate, rookie Paul Di Resta (1:36:19) made the most notably drive of the day, taking P8 for Force India, leaving Adrian Sutil (1:35:87) at Q2 in 11th position.
As the Scot returned on the inlap, the green and orange car kicked up a bit of a fuss, which may prove damaging to his efforts. Only tomorrow can confirm that one way or other.