Vitantonio Liuzzi did little to ease the perceived pressure from Paul di Resta by crashing out in the first phase of qualifying ahead of the Chinese GP.
The Italian filled the ‘unlucky’ 18th spot at the end of the opening 20-minute session, unable to improve on his best time after pitting, and joins the six newcomer cars in sitting out the rest of the day. Liuzzi and Force India would normally have been expected to make the cut, and showed well in free practice, but join Jaime Alguersuari and Vitaly Petrov in making an early exit in conventional qualifying conditions this season.
Timo Glock was again the quickest of the new teams, and will start 19th on Sunday, ahead of Lotus duo Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn having spun before setting a time. Glock’s Virgin team-mate Lucas di Grassi had the beating of HRT’s Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok, who will start with a negligible five-place penalty in the race.
Lewis Hamilton restored McLaren and Mercedes to the top of the times with his second flying lap, having had to lift off for Chandhok’s spin on his first, while Nico Rosberg also got ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in the top five.