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Vettel's Chinese take away

NEWS STORY
17/04/2010

Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 20 degrees C, while the track temperature is 32 degrees. It is bright and sunny.

While McLaren dominates yesterday's sessions, this morning Red Bull finally opted to give us a glimpse of its cards, Mark Webber topping the timesheets and Malaysia winner Sebastian Vettel finishing third.

Mercedes have been on the pace all weekend, with Rosberg continuing to enjoy a slight advantage over teammate Schumacher, while Ferrari has been somewhat disappointing, a situation not helped by the continued fears regarding the reliability of their engines.

Renault continue to impress, though Petrov blotted his copybook when he crashed out this morning, as do Force India and Toro Rosso, despite Sebastian Buemi's horrific failure this morning.

While Kamui Kobayashi was tenth quickest this morning, Sauber continues to disappoint, certainly when compared to its pre-season testing form, as does Williams, which appears to have given up on its version of the controversial F-duct device, at least until Spain.

Lotus is looking far from impressive here thus far, while at Virgin and Hispania it's business as usual.

Tyre options this weekend are hard (prime) and soft (option), and while the weather has been almost ideal thus far, it is widely forecast that there will be rain at some stage tomorrow.

After a seal broken on the gearbox of Karun Chandhok's Hispania last night, the Indian has been hit with a five-place grid penalty. Having qualified last for two of the three races thus far, this is hardly likely to bother the likeable Indian driver.

The lights go green and Heikki Kovalainen leads the way followed by Lotus teammate Jarno Trulli. Surprisingly, Massa is the third driver to go out, followed, shortly afterwards, by teammate Alonso.

A big spin by Kovalainen at Turn 6 as he hits the Brakes, however, the Finn is able to continue.

Trulli posts 40.533, however, seconds later Massa crosses the line at 36.997. Liuzzi goes second (38.822) but is demoted when Alonso posts 36.805 to go quickest.

Button complains that his car is involuntarily going into neutral as Kubica goes second with a 36.853. The 2009 world champion subsequently posts 36.600 to go second.

It's all over for Chandhok, his Hispania having come to a halt on the run-off at the hairpin. That said, the Indian is able to get going again.

Sutil goes third with a 36.671 as Webber leaves the pits, Vettel and Petrov yet to make an appearance.

Alonso raises the benchmark with a 36.327 but this is beaten by Hamilton who goes top with a 35.641 having been quickest in all three sectors. Schumacher goes seventh but is demoted when teammate posts 36.353 to go fourth.

As Webber comes to the end of his first flying lap, teammate Vettel leaves the pits. The Australian goes fourth with a 36.158. Elsewhere, de la Rosa makes full use of the (over) generous run-offs.

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