Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil is pushed back to his garage during the qualifying session of the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at Shanghai International circuit April 14, 2012. Reuters

After the drama and thrills of the 2012 Formula 1 World Championship's two opening races, the F1 circus is all set for the final and the most important day of the race weekend at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The race, for those in the UK, will be available via live stream on SkyGo. You can also follow the race live and get real-time information and feeds at the Formula One Web site. You can also follow the race, via text updates, at BBC Sport.

The season has already been rather epic, in that the expected strong title defence - for both the drivers' and the constructors' title - from the Red Bull camp, although clearly in evidence, has been rather weak so far. Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel have had a relatively quiet and slow start to the season and have left most of the front-running, at least in qualifying, to the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Nevertheless, with 42 points for the team and 35 for Vettel, both are still within easy striking distance of Ferrari and Fernando Alonso, respectively.

The big surprise of the qualifying session was Mercedes' Nico Rosberg's stunning run to his maiden pole position. The German driver in an all-German team (his team mate is former seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher), to be fair, has been in that same stunning form all weekend. In fact, the Mercedes team has enjoyed a reasonably strong start to the season, at least in terms of qualifying. Schumacher was 4<sup>th and 3<sup>rd on the grid in Australia and Malaysia and at least one of the two drivers has been in the top three of each of the Free Practice sessions this weekend. In that sense, therefore, Rosberg's pole may not be a real surprise. However, the big question must be - can the team translate that qualifying pace into race pace, given the problems they've admitted with tire wear this season?

Rosberg finished the qualifying session 0.172s ahead of Hamilton. Unfortunately for the Englishman, he was forced to change his gearbox through the course of the weekend, meaning he will get a five-place grid penalty. Button, meanwhile, clearly was less than happy with his car, managing only 1.36:711 for 6<sup>th on the grid. The fact that we will not see the McLarens on the grid before Row 3 is a surprise given the team's strong Saturday runs so far - both races so far have featured a McLaren on pole. This will have to be a strong performance from Hamilton if he wants to win the race.

Vettel, similarly, will have his task cut out for him this time around. The young German had a rather poor qualifying session, finishing 11<sup>th; his team mate did not do much better and will start 8<sup>th. However, the Red Bull's race pace, at least in the last two races, has been much better than their qualifying capabilities lead one to believe. Therefore, unless the team has run into set-up problems, expect the defending champions to come strongly through the field. The only question is - are they starting a little too far back to really challenge for the win?

Meanwhile, the winner of the last race in Malaysia - Alonso has managed only 9<sup>th for this race. Team mate, Felipe Massa, is in 12<sup>th. However, the fact that Alonso not only leads the title race for the year but took advantage of chaotic conditions in Malaysia to win the race suggests that Ferrari seem to be regaining some of the quick-thinking skills that was so much in evidence during the Schumacher-era - remember the 2004 French Grand Prix that Schumacher won after making four pit stops?

The race is scheduled to start 7 am GMT (8 am BST; 3 pm local time). The weather forecast is for a cloudy afternoon, with rain and thundershowers expected later in the evening. The temperature is expected to be between 18 C and 21 C (high-60s F).

Check out the results of all the Free Practice sessions and re-live the qualifying session here.