Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher stays positive in the Mercedes garage and Vitantonio Liuzzi is upbeat for Hispania.
F1 Chinese GP notebook: Hamilton's guitar delight
The 2008 world champion revealed last night that it was a chance meeting with the musician Prince in the paddock at Yas Marina Circuit last November that resulted in him buying the pop star's Fender Stratocaster guitar for US$100,000 (Dh367,000) at an auction earlier this week.
The proceeds of Hamilton's purchase will go to The Harlem Children's Zone and another children's charity of the McLaren-Mercedes driver's choice.
"I have been in touch with him and his manager since Abu Dhabi and went to the show there," Hamilton said. "I've always wanted to do stuff for charity, but sometimes it is difficult. I'm happy to have a guitar from one of the all-time legends. It's probably going to be the coolest thing I will have in my apartment."
Hamilton, however, will not be trying to learn the chords to Purple Rain. "I'll have it on my wall, but if you touch it you'll get an electric shock," he joked. "And I won't try to play it because it will be demoralising after knowing how well he plays it."
The Italian manufacturers put their Formula One track troubles into perspective yesterday with news that one of their mechanics was recovering from emergency surgery. Fernando Alonso qualified fifth and Brazilian Felipe Massa sixth in Shanghai yesterday.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali revealed other preoccupations: "I want to express our delight at the positive progress in the condition of Paolo Santarsiero, one of our mechanics who fell ill on Thursday with an aneurysm in his head," he said. "I wish to thank the entire medical team who acted so promptly and efficiently in carrying out the procedure. Incidents like this make one realise what the priorities really are in life and put everything else into perspective."
A mechanical problem with his rear wing hamstrung Schumacher's qualifying efforts yesterday and left him 14th on the grid for today's race in Shanghai. But the seven-time world champion said he was optimistic of a good race and had taken heart from his Mercedes GP teammate Nico Rosberg qualifying fourth.
"Nico proved that strongly with his fourth place, which was our realistic target," he said. "I didn't quite get my lap together in Q2 and since then we have found out that my rear wing was not functioning correctly as I was braking into Turn 14. I am obviously hoping to have a strong start and that we have good race pace so I can hopefully make up some positions."
Jaime Alguersuari is hoping he and teammate Sebastien Buemi can back up the team's best qualifying display in more than two years with a strong haul of points from today's race.
The Spaniard qualified seventh and Buemi ninth, and Alguersuari said: "I think there is a possibility to pick up a good amount of points and I am optimistic because today we chose a car set-up better suited to the race than to do a quick lap in qualifying."
Vitantonio Liuzzi believes the team's problems, which saw them fail to qualify in Australia, are now behind them. The Italian qualified 23rd with his teammate Narain Karthikeyan 24th, but both were comfortably within the 107 per cent time of pole position so can race today.
Said Liuzzi: "We have shown that in both soft-tyre and hard-tyre conditions we are competitive so the 107 per cent rule should no longer be an issue."
* Gary Meenaghan with agencies