Find out more about our subscriptions
As it happened: Qualifying
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
05:45 Hello everyone and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live for continuing coverage of the third round in the 2009 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The practice sessions have been completed, and now it is time to qualify for the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix.

05:47 AUTOSPORT forum members are invited to join the fun throughout the weekend, offering thoughts and opinions as the event unfolds.

• Will any of the big names fail to make it past the first qualifying hurdle this afternoon?
• Can Ferrari, McLaren or Renault join the diffuser gang in the top ten?
• And what about the pole? Jenson Button is the bookies' favourite, but what about Toyota?, Can Jarno Trulli give Button and Barrichello a run for their money in the shootout?

Tell everyone what you think.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

Nico Rosberg05:49 Earlier this morning we witnessed a dramatic final hour of practice, featuring spins, reliability issues and a great scrap at the top of the timesheet, but the session began with one of the most bizarre incidents we have seen in a free session for years.

Nico Rosberg kicked things off by inexplicably losing control of his Williams Toyota in the left-hander at the entrance to the pitlane. He slid wide and into the gravel trap that Lewis Hamilton famously visited on worn intermediate tyres during the damp 2007 grand prix. Rosberg's car was lifted away and later he was able to resume.

In fact, it was a session of two halves for the German. Later, he flew round the 5.451 km circuit in 1:36.133 on super-soft tyres, as the qualifying simulation runs took over in the dying moments. Jarno Trulli - the long-time pacesetter - finished second, with Lewis Hamilton a solid third for McLaren, Jenson Button down in fourth in the first of the Brawns, Nelson Piquet fifth and Felipe Massa in sixth place.

The field spread was again very close, with 0.701s covering the top 14 places.

Rosberg fastest in final China practice

05:51 The weather continues to be fine and dry as we move towards qualifying, with mainly sunny skies and a few clouds dotted around.

The air temperature is higher than many predicted, with a maximum of 23 degrees Celsius in the air, and track temperatures nearing 40 degrees. A slight breeze of up to 18 km/h is blowing from the south-east.

Timo Glock05:53 Some trackside notes so far today, as we move towards the qualifying session:

• Timo Glock suffered a gearbox failure after completing six laps in practice this morning. His Toyota team have changed the unit, but he will have a five-place penalty on the grid, applied after qualifying.

• Fernando Alonso was another man to complete only six laps this morning. The Spaniard was testing a new interim 'double-decker' diffuser but experienced problems with the new bodywork being overheated by the exhaust.

• Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel had identical problems with their Red Bull cars in practice with driveshaft rubber boot failure. There were no concerns for the gearboxes from this problem and the repairs were precautionary due to damage spotted on the boots.

• The Ferrari and Renault teams will not run with their KERS devices for the remainder of the weekend, leaving the system only on the pair of McLarens and Nick Heidfeld's BMW.

More teams ditch KERS for China

05:55 There are five minutes remaining until the start of the all-important qualifying session for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix.

05:56 The track temperature is up to 38 Celsius in the Shanghai sunshine.

05:58 Timo Glock moves towards his Toyota. On his first run this afternoon the team will want to establish quickly whether the gearbox repair has gone to plan.

05:59 Jenson Button sits in his Brawn GP entry, concentrating on the job ahead. In one hour will he be the man on the pole?

05:59 Felipe Massa sits ready in the Ferrari. He will be looking to avoid an early exit this time.

06:00 The drivers are ready to go, and are anxiously waiting for the session to open. Twenty cars will shoot for the top 15 in this frantic 20 minute qualifying period.

0 min: The session is underway.

0 min: Giancarlo Fisichella is the first driver to come out onto the track in the Force India.

1 min: The Toro Rosso drivers, Force India duo and Nico Rosberg have all joined the racetrack in these early minutes for a first run.

2 min: Giancarlo Fisichella begins the first qualifying lap of the afternoon with super-soft tyres on the Force India.

3 min: Fisichella locks up slightly entering Turn 11 but no real issue and he hits the apex - just. He completes the lap and the time is 1:39.502.

4 min: Sebastien Buemi goes faster than Fisichella - also using super-softs, with 1:38.394, before Rosberg takes P1 with 1:37.646.

5 min: Kimi Raikkonen heads out of the pits for his first attempt.

5 min: Adrian Sutil goes third and therefore just ahead of team-mate Fisichella with 1:38.883. Sebastien Bourdais is the only other driver to have set a time so far and he is in fifth spot.

6 min: Toyota drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock are on track, and are instantly quick. They are spaced a few seconds apart on the road.

Glock is first over the line and only manages seventh with 1:38.814, but Trulli has a much more productive lap - 1:37.533 is good enough for second behind Rosberg in these early stages.

7 min: The McLaren and BMW teams are both waiting for track conditions to improve before making their first runs.

Lewis Hamilton now joins the racetrack.

7 min: Sebastien Bourdais goes on for a second effort in the Toro Rosso and moves up to third with 1:37.696.

7 min: Sebastian Vettel now moves to the top of the list with 1:37.351.

8 min: The Ferrari pair of Massa and Raikkonen are now on flying laps using the super-soft tyres.

8 min: Jenson Button goes faster than Vettel into P1 with 1:37.231, but Webber - behind Button on the road - takes the top spot with 1:37.100.

9 min: Massa clocks a 1:36.780 on the softer rubber to go quickest for the moment.

9 min: Sebastian Vettel is extremely quick on his next lap and he goes quickest on 1:36.633.

10 min: Fernando Alonso locks up the unloaded left front tyre in replay on his way to a 1:37.320 - only good enough for eighth at this stage.

10 min: Lewis Hamilton takes the quickest time in 1:36.381 using super-soft tyres.

10 min: Kimi Raikkonen has taken second as he also makes early use of the softer tyres.

11 min: Behind Hamilton, the order is Raikkonen, Vettel, Button, Barrichello and Nakajima moves into sixth with a 1:36.673.

11 min: Heikki Kovalainen has yet to come out of the pits and is leaving it extremely late to set a time.

11 min: Rubens Barrichello goes fastest of all in the Brawn Mercedes with a very solid 1:36.374.

12 min: Nick Heidfeld slots in 12th in the BMW with his first attempt.

12 min: Heikki Kovalainen is only just on an out lap for his first timed attempt.

13 min: Mark Webber manages something never done before in China. He understeers into the pitlane gravel trap that has already been a feature of today's running ... but he gets out. The Australian keeps the wheels on his Red Bull turning and he makes it into the pitlane under his own power.

14 min: With so many quick times set on the softer rubber, many teams will be forced to make another run.

14 min: Kovalainen is now on to his flying lap with the softer tyres on the McLaren.

15 min: Fisichella, Sutil and Glock are all cemented in the dropzone at the moment. Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld aren't safe either as it stands with five minutes to go.

15 min: Kovalainen takes seventh with a lap of 1:36.646.

15 min: Nico Rosberg moves up from 17th to third with 1:36.385.

16 min: Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock, Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella occupy the final five positions.

These five must improve in the final few minutes or face elimination from the qualifying session.

17 min: Rosberg contines for another fast lap on the soft tyres. The Williams is understeering through the long turn on to the back straight but he crosses the line in an impressive 1:35.941 - now quickest.

17 min: Nick Heidfeld ditches his second run and comes back into the pits with under three minutes remaining. He is quickly back out after a change of tyres and will have one last chance to make it through.

18 min: Lewis Hamilton heads out of the McLaren garage for another attempt on the softer tyre.

18 min: Everyone except Sebastian Vettel is on the track. Under two minutes to go and the drivers pour out on their outlaps ahead of the final effort to make it through to Q2.

19 min: The whole field are on the circuit, with everyone feeling the need to run again with the ever-improving times in a tight pack.

19 min: Timo Glock moves from the dropzone to third and safety in the Toyota.

19 min: Times are coming in rapidly with Mark Webber now the fastest man.

19 min: Jarno Trulli moves out of the dropzone into fourth with 1:36.308.

19 min: Button takes back the top spot with a 1:35.533 in the Brawn.

20 min: Team-mate Barrichello is second quickest.

20 min: The qualifying period has ended. Cars that have already started a lap may complete it.

06:20 Heidfeld and Kubica are now in the dropzone, and both really need to pull a lap out of the bag on their final effort.

Kubica only improves to 16th and will be eliminated!

06:21 Bourdais moves up from 17th to 15th and safety ... but is immediately bumped back into the dropzone and is eliminated by Heidfeld, who improved to 12th on his final effort.

06:21 Lewis Hamilton is fast on his final effort and he moves up to fourth with a 1:35.776, quickest in the first and final sectors.

06:22 The first period of qualifying has been completed. The following drivers have been eliminated:

16) Bourdais
17) Piquet
18) Kubica
19) Sutil
20) Fisichella.

06:22 The Ferrari duo of Raikkonen and Massa ended the session in sixth and seventh.

06:23 Rookie Sebastien Buemi set an impressive 1:36.284 in the Toro Rosso to take eighth.

06:23 Sebastien Bourdais explains over the team radio that he ran wide in Turn 8 and picked up some dust on his tyres. The Frenchman failed to make Q2 by just over two-tenths of a second.

06:26 The shock of the first session is undoubtedly Robert Kubica ending up 18th in the BMW F1.09. The Pole tried the KERS device for the first time yesterday, but didn't find it to be beneficial.

So today he reverted back to the standard car he has been using since the start of the season, but could not find the pace to make it through to the second round.

0 min: The qualifying period has started.

0 min: The remaining 15 drivers that have made it through, will now put the first period to the back of their minds, and start all over again.

The next 15 minute session will see the drivers aiming for a place in the top ten shootout.

1 min: The first minute of Q2 passes without anyone taking to the track.

1 min: Williams break the mini-silence and send Rosberg and Nakajima out onto the track.

2 min: Jenson Button has also joined the racetrack in the Brawn Mercedes.

Rosberg is using a set of super-soft tyres on this run, as is Button.

2 min: The Ferrari of Raikkonen is touring slowly on the circuit ...

3 min: Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello also come out, as Nico Rosberg backs right off at Turn 14 to create some space and hopefully a clear lap.

3 min: Kimi seemed to be looking for space and is now continuing at speed.

4 min: The super-soft tyre is the choice of the pack for this session. They are really using up their allocation today, with the medium compound not giving such a quick initial lap.

4 min: The first laps are underway now with the Williams duo first to have a go at a time.

Nakajima is the first across the line and he posts a 1:36.193, but is demoted by Rosberg, who sets a 1:35.809.

5 min: Jenson Button slots into second, but is beaten by Rubens Barrichello, who goes fastest with a 1:35.784.

6 min: Kimi Raikkonen takes the current third quickest time in 1:35.856.

6 min: The order is changing very quickly as the laps continue. Mark Webber slots into first place with 1:35.632 with Barrichello second, Rosberg third and Raikkonen fourth.

6 min: Lewis Hamilton doesn't get the best exit out of the Turn 14 hairpin but still goes second quickest with a 1:35.740.

7 min: Sebastian Vettel is the only driver yet to leave the pits, with seven-and-a-half minutes remaining.

8 min: Fernando Alonso completes his first lap of Q2 and he moves into fifth spot with a 1:35.839.

8 min: Felipe Massa is currently eighth after the first attempt and will need to improve.

9 min: Nick Heidfeld uses his KERS and super-soft rubber to go seventh.

10 min: Heikki Kovalainen locks up into Turn 11 and only takes ninth fastest with his effort of 1:36.032.

11 min: Sebastian Vettel still hasn't come out onto the track and is therefore 15th. Joining him in the dropzone after the completion of the first laps are Trulli 11th, Glock 12th, Nakajima 13th and Buemi 14th.

These five drivers need to improve - or in Vettel's case put a time on the board - or face elimination.

12 min: With times continuing to improve rapidly, everyone will need to head out for another attempt.

12 min: Sebastien Buemi is the first of the dropzone drivers to leave the pits with 3:24 remaining on the clock.

Vettel now finally leaves the pits and joins the track for the first time in Q2.

13 min: All 15 drivers are on the circuit - none of them feeling that they are completely safe. The five dropzone drivers are about to start their final lap.

14 min: Jenson Button tops the session with a 1:35.556.

15 min: Sebastien Buemi is the first to go from the bottom five. He posts a solid first sector time and sets a second personal best in the second sector of the lap.

Buemi crosses the line and moves up from 14th to eighth.

15 min: The flag is out but there will be a rush of times still to be set.

06:42 Felipe Massa comes into the pits! He is now in the dropzone and will be eliminated!

06:42 Mark Webber storms to the quickest time for Red Bull with a 1:35.173.

06:43 Kovalainen is now dropped to 12th and he is also eliminated.

06:43 Rubens Barrichello improves to third and Fernando Alonso takes an impressive seventh in the Renault.

06:44 Nick Heidfeld is also out - big scalps go in numbers in the second period.

06:44 Sebastian Vettel only did one run, but it was enough to see him move from 15th to fastest with a great 1:35.130.

06:45 The second period of qualifying has concluded. The following five drivers have been eliminated:

11) Heidfeld
12) Kovalainen
13) Massa
14) Glock
15) Nakajima.

06:45 Kimi Raikkonen just made it in with a ninth-place time, and Lewis Hamilton makes Q3 for the first time in 2009.

06:46 Timo Glock will drop a further five places following a gearbox change this morning. His 14th place in qualifying will become 19th on the grid for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix.

06:47 This is another disappointing Saturday for Felipe Massa, who will start the Chinese Grand Prix down in 13th and without the KERS device to aid overtaking.

06:48 Nick Heidfeld drove hard in qualifying, but has ultimately ended up 11th on the grid for tomorrow's race. The German failed to make it through to the top ten shootout by the smallest of margins - 0.010s.

Sebastien Buemi's Formula 1 education continues, and the Swiss took that tenth place with 1:35.965, putting him into Q3 for the first time in his short career.

06:49 Replays show Heikki Kovalainen encountering serious traffic at Turn 14 on his final run, a matter that may come to the attention of the stewards.

06:50 These ten drivers have made it through to Q3, and will battle it out for the best places on the grid:

Lewis Hamilton
Kimi Raikkonen
Fernando Alonso
Jarno Trulli
Sebastien Buemi
Mark Webber
Sebastian Vettel
Nico Rosberg
Jenson Button
Rubens Barrichello.

0 min: The battle for pole in China is underway.

0 min: Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso are the first two drivers to join the track. Jarno Trulli joins them.

2 min: Most of the cars are on an out lap before starting a first attempt.

3 min: Alonso is on his first flyer now, with super-softs on the Renault. Rosberg has also started his lap.

3 min: Nico Rosberg posts a 1:39.131, but Alonso flies to a 1:37.586 to go fastest so far.

5 min: Kimi Raikkonen goes fifth with his lap, while Mark Webber goes fastest by four tenths in 1:37.188.

5 min: Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello are on their charge towards the front. Button is quick in sector one, but Barrichello is faster than the championship leader.

5 min: Lewis Hamilton aborted his first attempt and pits for a change of tyres.

6 min: Barrichello sets a blistering 1:37.146 to lead the pack after the first run, with Webber second, Button third and Fernando Alonso set a 1:37.586 for fourth.

7 min: The drivers pour back into the pits for a quick change of tyres and they are back out, heading towards the line to start their final run for the front row of the grid.

7 min: Hamilton is on to his final run.

8 min: All ten cars are on the track as the final runs begin.

8 min: Nico Rosberg is going very quickly in the Williams on the super-soft tyre and he moves up from seventh to fourth with 1:37.409.

9 min: Lewis Hamilton clocks a 1:38.595 for seventh, but does have time for another tour.

9 min: The Brawns are quick on the first sector, but Mark Webber is absolutely flying and is up on the benchmark time so far in the lap.

9 min: The time is up but fast laps continue ...

07:00 Webber then sets a fastest second sector and the Australian is primed to go to the top ...

07:00 Fernando Alonso is on a quick lap with the fastest first sector.

07:00 Mark Webber crosses the line and he goes provisional pole with 1:36.466!

07:01 Button can't beat the Australian - 1:36.532 for second, but Barrichello beats him with 1:36.493.

07:01 Alonso jumps up to second in the Renault. An amazing performance from the Spaniard.

07:02 Sebastian Vettel comes from absolutely nowhere and he sets a wonderful 1:36.184 to claim pole position for tomorrow's Chinese Grand Prix!

07:02 Kimi Raikkonen ended up in eighth, with Lewis Hamilton ninth and Sebastian Buemi tenth.

07:03 Sebastian Vettel grabs pole for tomorrow's race - a stunning pole for Red Bull Racing.

Fernando Alonso gives Renault their first front row start of the season with second spot. Mark Webber makes it double joy for Red Bull by grabbing third, with Rubens Barrichello fourth and Button in fifth position.

07:04 Jarno Trulli will start the race from sixth place, with Nico Rosberg seventh, Kimi Raikkonen eighth, Lewis Hamilton starting on the fifth row in ninth and Sebastien Buemi rounding out the top ten.

07:06 Sebstian Vettel is jubilant at Red Bull's first ever pole, the second of his career.

It is the first time this year that a double-decker diffuser car has not taken pole this year.

07:08 The report is now available after a fascinating qualifying hour in China:

Vettel gives Red Bull first F1 pole

07:13 Formula 1 is certainly delivering exciting action this season. Another great qualifying session has concluded with Sebastian Vettel taking a wonderful pole for Red Bull.

Fernando Alonso hauled his Renault up to second, Mark Webber is an excelent third, but the Brawns are right there in the mix.

Tomorrow the points are awarded, and the race could be won by anyone in the top six or seven. Our build-up to the race begins at 05:30 GMT. We hope you can join us on AUTOSPORT Live for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Session length: 60 minutes
Mainly sunny High Temp: 23°C / 73°F
Track: Dry
Loading info ...
Monday 13 Apr Start GMT
 Chinese Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 17 Apr
 Friday Morning Practice 01:45
 Friday Afternoon Practice 05:45
Saturday 18 Apr
 Saturday Practice 02:45
 Qualifying 05:45
Sunday 19 Apr
 Race day at Shanghai International Circuit 05:30
Emlyn Hughes and Geoff Creighton are's live commentary team. The dynamic duo have developed an inimitable style and a reputation for fast, accurate and insightful commentary. With unrivaled access to events unfolding at the circuit, they bring you the very latest, as it happens.

Bugs and Feedback