Chinese GP qualifying: Vettel on top again

It was another dominant performance from Sebastian Vettel in this morning’s Chinese GP qualifying session, while teammate Mark Webber starts 18th following a colossal tactical boob.

Confident of the car’s pace and eager to save the softer compound tyres for tomorrow’s race, Red Bull sent the Aussie out into Q1 sporting a set of hard tyres, a move which eventually saw him nudged into the drop zone by newbie Pastor Maldonado.

Meanwhile, Jenson Button out-qualified Lewis Hamilton for the first time this season – he starts in second, one place ahead of his teammate. Nico Rosberg and the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa fill out the top six, with Jaime Alguersuari, Paul di Resta and Sebastien Buemi all impressing by sneaking into Q3. The two Renaults, though impressive so far this season, managed only 10th and 16th.

So, what on Earth are Red Bull up to? We imagine team boss Christian Horner would sooner set fire to his own feet than take such a foolhardy tyre gamble with Vettel. Could this be an attempt to shoe-horn Webber into the number two role that he publicly bemoaned last season? With another Vettel masterclass on the cards for tomorrow, barring a miraculous recovery, Marko stands to roll up in Turkey in three weeks’ time a whopping 50 points behind his teammate. And in the face of numbers like that, we imagine it’s very difficult to argue when you’re given the bottom bunk in the motorhome. What do you reckon – are team politics flaring up again at Red Bull? Or are we just massive cynics?

Here’s the full starting line-up for tomorrow’s race:

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Jenson Button
3. Lewis Hamilton
4. Nico Rosberg
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Felipe Massa
7. Jaime Alguersuari
8. Paul di Resta
9. Sebastien Buemi
10. Vitaly Petrov
11. Adrian Sutil
12. Sergio Perez
13. Kamui Kobayashi
14. Michael Shcumacher
15. Rubens Barrichello
16. Nick Heidfeld
17. Pastor Maldonado
18. Mark Webber
19. Heikki Kovalainen
20. Jarno Trulli
21. Jerome d’Ambrosio
22. Timo Glock
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi
24. Narain Karthikeyan

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