Max qualified in fifth spot, with Daniel marginally behind in sixth place as the team bounced back from a dramatic morning at the Shanghai International Circuit to claim row three on the grid for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Smooth progress towards qualifying was dealt a heavy blow in final practice when Daniel was forced out of the session with a suspected turbo problem. That turned into a full engine change and the race was on to get Daniel’s car ready in time for the start of Q1.
While Max’s woes were far less severe, the Dutchman reporting that he was unhappy with the feeling of his car, there was still work to do and the garage was a hive of activity for the two hours following the final practice session.
When Q1 began the team was still hard at work on Daniel’s car. Final tweaks were made to Max’s car, however, and when he joined the action he quickly and comfortably claimed fourth spot on the timesheet.
It was a lot tighter for Daniel. With just four minutes left in the 18-minute session the crew began to fix the engine covers in place but it would be another two minutes before the final checks were completed, the jacks dropped and Daniel was released into the pit lane.
And despite having just one opportunity with a far from perfect car, Daniel rewarded his crew’s hard work by making it through to Q2 in 14th place.
2018 Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying Stats:
- Fifth is Max’s best qualifying position in China.
- Last year Max started in P16 and made it to the podium. What can he achieve from P5?
- Daniel has finished fourth in the last two races in China. Last year’s result was secured from P5 on the grid and in 2016 he started second.
Daniel was joined by Brendon Hartley, the Toro Rosso driver edging out of the drop zone and into P15 on his final flying lap. The margin was fine, though, with the New Zealander finishing just five hundredths of a second clear of Williams’ Sergey Sirotkin and 0.88s ahead of his Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly who finished ahead of Williams’ Lance Stroll and the Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson.
Q2 was a much more routine session for the Bulls. Max and Daniel slotted into fifth and sixth places on their opening runs, using the ultrasoft tyre as Ferrari and Mercedes ahead used the soft tyre.
The Bulls elected to stick with those laps as the final runs began and their judgement was proved correct, though they did slip to seventh and eight places respectively at the end of the session.
Out went 11th –placed Haas’ driver Kevin Magnussen followed by Force India’s Esteban Ocon, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, while Hartley stayed in the 15th place he’d occupied at the end of Q1.
And in Q3 it was again a case of finding their way to fifth and sixth places, as Sebastian Vettel claimed pole ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. Mercedes struggled for ultimate pace with Valtteri Bottas finishing third ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Behind the Red Bull drivers Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg qualified in seventh place, almost six tenths of a second behind Daniel. Force India’s Sergio Pérez finished ahead of Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying - Top 10:
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Kimi Raikkonen
3. Vatteri Bottas
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. MAX VERSTAPPEN
6. DANIEL RICCIARDO
7. Nico Hulkenberg
8. Sergio Perez
9. Carlos Sainz
10. Romain Grosjean