The Chinese Grand Prix At Shanghai International Circuit is Sunday, April 14, at 2:30 a.m. ET. Be sure to catch all the action on NBC Sports. For race fans out there that will not have access to NBC Sports when the lights go out, be sure to catch the live stream online for free signing up by singing up fro NBC Sports LiveExtra here.
Sparks will fly as Formula 1 returns to Shanghai, China, for the 10th time. During the last race at Malaysia, Red Bull had to address an inner feud between its two drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Australian driver Mark Webber was furious when his German teammate Sebastian Vettel had blatantly ignored "Multi 21" team orders and passed him while his car was dialed back in fuel-conservation mode. Tensions were high both on and off the track. In fact, rumors even suggested Mark Webber would not drive for Red Bull for the Chinese GP.
While Sebastian Vettel was accused as a selfish, immature driver, the 3-time world champion did not take the criticism sitting down. In fact, Vettel eventually admitted that if he had to do it again, he would have certainly passed Webber because he believed he had a better chance of winning the race anyway.
A controversial statement, Niki Lauda also decided to advocate Vettel's decision in his latest contribution to the conversation:
"Sebastian just said the thing he needs to do to be a world champion, and well. Now everyone knows exactly what it is."
In addition, Lauda also insisted Vettel's tattered relationship with Webber is a non-issue:
"It doesn't matter," Lauda said. "Sebastian made a clear statement, and I would do the same. And he has been supported by the fact that Red Bull has now said there will be no team orders (anymore). Who cares about peace? You have to win."
As per Formula 1 drama, winning is never a straight forward affair. After Saturday qualifying, Lewis Hamilton earned his first pole since he joined Mercedes-Benz this season. The 2013 Chinese Grand Prix is the Briton's 27th career pole.
Last season, Lewis Hamilton fans were stunned when they learned about his decision to leave McLaren to race for Mercedes-Benz for 2013. Compared to the consistent performance from McLaren throughout its illustrious history, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz has yet to prove itself a wins-sustaining car. However, Since Mercedes-Benz demonstrated its abilities at Australia, naysayers are eating their words.
"Every pole is special in its own way," said Hamilton. "Being in a new team, it feels like the first, and the first of many. I've been racing for so long it's good to feel that buzz when it does come together."
"It's just getting better and better, and we've put ourselves in the best position for a win. It feels just like my first pole in 2007. When I signed, I didn't dream that I would be on pole at the third race. We have good race pace. The Red Bull will be competitive and the Ferrari and Lotus are going to be hard to work with. But it was a great lap. I thought: 'If someone beat that they deserved pole.'"
Following Hamilton are fellow world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. Next, Hamilton's teammate Niko Rosberg starts fourth on the grid.
Second Ferrari driver Felipe Massa clinches 5th, followed by Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, and Nico Hülkenberg rounding out the top 10.
Meanwhile, there is more than meets the eye regarding the subpar qualifying positions of world champions Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. Rather than utilize the soft compounds so soon, both drivers ahve opted to qualify in longer lasting mediums instead.
Perhaps the least happiest man on the grid this weekend is Mark Webber. Thanks to a faulty fuel bowser, Webber failed to drive back to the pits under the car's own power and provide a fuel sample to the FIA regulating body.
Under the regulations, Webber was excluded from qualifying results and must start the race from the back of the field.
"The team admitted it had not put sufficient fuel in the car," reported the FIA statement.
"Only 150ml of fuel was on board, which was insufficient to provide the one litre sample and drive the car back to the pits under its own power."
"We need a bit of luck now," admitted Webber.
The Chinese Grand Prix starts Sunday, April 14, at 2:30 a.m. ET. Be sure to catch all the action on NBC Sports. For race fans out there that will not have access to NBC Sports when the lights go out, be sure to catch the live stream online for free signing up by singing up fro NBC Sports LiveExtra here. Check out the starting grid positions from the Sunday Chinese Grand Prix race at Shanghai:
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes
2. Kimi Raikkonen Finand Lotus-Renault
3. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari
4. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes
5. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari
6. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault
7. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
8. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes
9. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault
10. Nico Hülkenberg Germany Sauber-Ferrari
11. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes
12. Sergio Perez Mexico McLaren-Mercedes
13. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes
14. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault
15. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari
16. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Renault
17. Esteban Gutiérrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari
18. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Cosworth
19. Max Chilton Britain Marussia-Cosworth
20. Charles Pic France Caterham-Renault
21. Giedo van der Garde Netherlands Caterham-Renault
22. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault