When and Where: Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai gets underway at 2 a.m. ET on Saturday morning. Live coverage will be available on Speed. You can also keep up to date with detailed timing and statistics at Formula1.com. The final practice session can be viewed with a live stream on SpeedTV.com at 11 p.m.
Preview: After showing strong one-lap pace in the first two grand prixs of the 2012 season, in Australia and Malaysia, the Mercedes again looks strong as Michael Schiumacher recorded the quickest time in the second practice session on Friday.
Mercedes' controversial F-duct rear-wing design, which has been the scorn of many other teams in the paddock so far this year, was deemed legal by FIA stewards after a protest by Lotus in China.
And the extra downforce it provides should give them an even bigger advantage due to the long straight on the Shanghai circuit.
It was a trouble-free day, and I am quite happy with how our car is handling so far here, Schumacher said, according to Formula1.com, after clocking a time 0.172secs quicker than Lewis Hamilton. The balance of the car was reasonably good, and obviously a balanced car contributes a lot to lap time.
As a team, we are a lot stronger in certain areas this season, and we have a much better base to work from, although we are not quite where we want to be with this car yet but I am confident we will get there, Schumacher added, alluding to the team's problems with tire degradation.
It is that issue that has seen Mercedes good pace fail to turn into race results. Indeed, they have only recorded one point in the first two races. But while they may struggle come Sunday, Mercedes appear strong contenders for pole.
Lewis Hamilton will also be confident of a good performance in qualifying after topping the time sheets in practice one, before coming second later in the day.
It's been a great day--it stayed dry in the afternoon so we successfully got through our run program, Hamilton said on Friday, according to Formula1.com. We're still working away to improve the set-up, but the new bits on the car seem to be working: the guys back at the factory have done a great job.
Disappointingly for the former world champion, as well as he may do on Saturday, Hamilton will be docked five grid positions after deciding that the car requires a change of gearbox.
It's going to be a close qualifying session tomorrow--it'll be a good battle and hopefully we can start as high up the grid as possible because I think we'll still be in the race and among the leading group, he commented, according to Formula1.com. I love the challenge of coming through and gaining positions.
Fernando Alonso, who recorded a stunning win last time out in Malaysia, looks like he may struggle to maintain his lead in the driver's championship following Sunday's race, after a disappointing performance by the Ferrari's in practice.
Alonso finished 11th and 10th, while team mate Felipe Massa was 12th and 17th, in Friday's two sessions. And with the team admitting that the track in Shanghai is not suited to the Ferrari, it could be a long weekend for the Marinello outfit.
Red Bull, who have enjoyed a difficult start to the year, come to China with a revised exhaust configuration, but still have much work to do after a mixed performance in practice where double-world champion Sebastian Vettel finished seventh and third.