Kobayashi could keep the shocks coming
IT'S 4-1 the field for tomorrow morning's Chinese Grand Prix and the shortest-priced Red Bull is a 20-1 shot after this morning's qualifying provided the latest raft of surprises in this fascinating Formula One season.
Nico Rosberg, in his seventh year of F1, finally took his first pole position with a sublime lap of the Shanghai track in his Mercedes.
Lewis Hamilton qualified second quickest but will start seventh thanks to a five-place drop due to his being forced to change a damaged gearbox on his McLaren.
That elevates Michael Schumacher to the front row alongside his team-mate Rosberg, but on the evidence of the first two races of the season neither can possibly win.
The Mercedes is very hard on its tyres - a factor which Rosberg was warning would hamper them again tomorrow on a track which is pretty hard on rubber.
They are also severely limited in the use of their wing-stalling DRS device which is such a help in qualifying, when DRS use is unlimited and in the first two races the Mercs have struggled to live with the pace of the cars around them right from the start.
Kamui Kobayashi continued Sauber's storming start to the season and he is no forlorn hope at 14-1.
The car has been one of the quickest in race trim and from third on the grid the Japanese driver could make a bold bid for victory.
The Sauber is able to get its tyres to optimum operating temperature but also to make them last, which will be a huge asset at Shanghai.
Sebastian Vettel failed to reach the top-ten shootout for the first time since 2009 after switching to an early version of the Red Bull exhaust layout in attempt to solve his dislike of the new car's handling. But in an incredibly close Q2 he was only 0.3 seconds off the quickest time.
That was set by his team-mate Mark Webber, who is another worth backing at 20-1. The Red Bull has been much better in races than qualifying so far this season and from sixth on the grid he will quietly fancy his chances.
He starts ahead of the demoted Hamilton and one place behind Jenson Button who is struggling with his McLaren's handling in the cool conditions.
K Kobayashi, 1pt each-way 14-1, Ladbrokes
M Webber, 1pt each-way 20-1, bet365