Nico Rosberg of Mercedes captured his first Formula One pole position by topping qualifying for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Rosberg, 26, posted a time of 1 minute, 35.12 seconds in Shanghai to beat McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton by half a second. The German gave Mercedes its first pole since returning to the sport in 2010.
Hamilton, who was in the pole position for the season’s opening two races, received a five-place penalty for a gearbox change and dropped to seventh on the grid. That pushed Rosberg’s teammate Michael Schumacher, who was third-fastest, onto the front row.
“It’s a very special day for me,” Rosberg told reporters. “We don’t know what will happen in the race tomorrow, and it will be a challenge to stay in front, but for the moment, I will enjoy starting next to Michael from the front row.”
Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi will start third, next to Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus with McLaren’s Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber on the third row. Hamilton, Sauber’s Sergio Perez, series leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean round out the top 10 qualifiers.
Two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull will start 11th after failing to make the third qualifying round.
“We weren’t fast enough and have to accept it,” Vettel told reporters.