Tag Archives: qualifying

Vettel eases to Singapore pole position

Sebastian Vettel will start from P1 on the Singapore Grand Prix grid for tomorrow’s race. The Red Bull driver was so fast today, he sat out the final few minutes of Q3, as his rivals attempted – and failed – to beat his time.

Nico Rosberg will join him on the front row, setting up an interesting duel for the Grand Prix.

Q1

The super-soft tyre was almost 2 seconds faster than the medium compound, so the challenge for the top teams in Q1 was to see which could make it through without using the softer tyre.

Eventually, only Vettel, Webber and Romain Grosjean managed to do this, although the Lotus driver only scraped through by 0.2 seconds. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, were 6th and 7th, indicating how fast they were this weekend.

Felipe Massa sat in 18th place for part of the session, before his final lap pushed Paul di Resta into the drop zone. The Scot has now been knocked out of Q1 5 times this year. He was joined by Pastor Maldonado, as well as the usual suspects.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Paul di Resta – 1:46.121

18) Pastor Maldonado – 1:46.619

19) Charles Pic – 1:48.111

20) Giedo van der Garde – 1:48.320

21) Jules Bianchi – 1:48.830

22) Max Chilton – 1:48.930

Q2

Kimi Raikkonen had been suffering from back pain on Saturday, presumably from the many bumps on the Singapore street circuit. This problem seemed to only get worse in qualifying, and Kimi was visibly uncomfortable in the car on his Q2 flying lap. While he did set a time, it was well off what was required to get into Q3, and he will line up 13th.

Nico Hulkenberg was disappointed to line up 11th, and must have been even more aggrieved to see Esteban Gutierrez break into Q3 for the first time this season.

An immensely quick lap time from Vettel – 0.8 seconds faster than anyone else – laid down an ominous gauntlet for his challengers in Q3.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:44.555

12) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:44.588

13) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:44.658

14) Sergio Perez – 1:44.752

15) Adrian Sutil – 1:45.185

16) Valtteri Bottas – 1:45.388

Q3

Vettel set his fast lap surprisingly early in Q3, and a 1:42.841 was definitely not unassailable. Nevertheless, he peeled off into the pits, and after a few minutes of deliberation, decided not to head out onto track again. This left 8 other drivers scrambling to beat his time, while Gutierrez sat out the session.

However, Nico Rosberg threatened to snatch an unlikely pole, going only 0.091 seconds slower than Sebastian. While Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean had impressed in previous sessions, neither of them could pull it off either. Grosjean will line up 3rd, with Hamilton 5th, and Mark Webber sandwiched in between them.

Ferrari’s woes continued, with Massa and Alonso never even remotely close to the frontrunners in 6th and 7th places. Jenson Button called off a strategy to run on the prime tyres only, and he took a decent 8th place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

While Red Bull must have been worried in the final few minutes, Vettel seemingly had another tenth or two in the bag in Q3. Whether he can hold off the fast-starting Rosberg and Grosjean in the race is another matter altogether.

Lewis Hamilton takes last-gasp pole position in Spa

Lewis Hamilton has taken a surprise pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.

While it appeared until the dying minutes that Paul di Resta would take the top spot, the changing conditions meant that the Mercedes driver could unseat the Force India, preventing their first pole position since Belgium 2009. Here is what happened:

Q1

With rain falling 20 minutes before the start of Q1, intermediates were equipped on all 22 cars.

The times tumbled throughout the session, with 10 seconds being shaved off the fastest time in the final few minutes. As the track became drier, the Marussia drivers and Giedo van der Garde opted to take on slick tyres, which paid off immensely. Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were 11th and 16th, while Giedo van der Garde took an unlikely 3rd place after being the last driver to set a time on the improving track.

However, this left a few bemused drivers at the back of the grid. Both Toro Rosso drivers, along with Pastor Maldonado, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutierrez and Charles Pic were all knocked out in the first session. Pic also took on the dry tyres, but was held up at the weighbridge, and was unable to set a fast time.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Pastor Maldonado – 2:03.072

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 2:03.300

19) Daniel Riccardo – 2:03.317

20) Valtteri Bottas – 2:03.432

21) Esteban Gutierrez – 2:04.324

22) Charles Pic – 2:07.384

Q2

As expected, the three backmarkers filled the grid spots from 14th to 16th, but all 3 were pleased with their personal best qualification finishes.

With the track dry in Q2, the best Giedo van der Garde could manage was 14th, with Bianchi and Chilton behind.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:49.088

12) Adrian Sutil – 1:49.103

13) Sergio Perez – 1:49.304

14) Giedo Van der Garde – 1:52.036

15) Jules Bianchi – 1:52.563

16) Max Chilton – 1:52.762

Q3

As 9 drivers sat at the end of the pit lane before Q3, rain began to fall once again. They all scrambled to set a fast time before the track dampened, but were forced to pit for intermediates, as the rain fell harder.

The last remaining driver – Paul di Resta – had quietly emerged from the pits, 30 seconds after everyone else, equipped on the inters. The rest of the paddock could only watch in shock as Di Resta grabbed pole position – or so he thought.

Force India believed that the rain would keep falling, and so pitted Paul, confident that pole was theirs. As the other drivers hastily rejoined the track on wets, they were unable to match Di Resta’s time in the wetter conditions. Nico Rosberg got the closest, but he was still half a second off the mark.

To Force India’s surprise though, the rain clouds slowly cleared, paving the way for a crazed finish to Q3. Rosberg then thought he had provisional pole secured, but within a matter of seconds found himself in 4th place. Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and then Lewis Hamilton all set blinding lap times, with the Mercedes driver eventually on top.

A bemused Di Resta finished 5th, ahead of the two Lotuses and two Ferraris. Hamilton and Vettel share the front row once again, and we are set for a stunner of a race tomorrow.

 

Hamilton scrapes unlikely Hungary pole position

After an entire weekend struggling with a car that was supposedly off the pace, Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a sudden turnaround in luck, with a surprise pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes team languished in both Friday practice sessions, but were able to claw back the deficit to Red Bull and Lotus, with Hamilton and Rosberg taking 1st and 4th on the grid. A potential McLaren resurgence failed to materialise, while Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed another impressive qualifying performance.

Q1

Immensely hot conditions met the drivers on Saturday afternoon, with track temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celcuis for the entire session.

Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez, both of which missed running in Saturday morning practice, were both able to compete. The Sauber driver locked up his tyres on several of his flying laps though, and qualified 17th.

Paul di Resta suffered another torrid session, and was knocked out of Q1 for the third time in 4 races. This time, the team were not to blame, as a simple lack of grip left the Force India sliding all over the track.

Caterham appeared to have pulled out a gap to Marussia over the 3-week break, with Pic and Van der Garde finishing comfortably ahead of Bianchi and Chilton.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:21.724

18) Paul di Resta – 1:22.043

19) Charles Pic – 1:23.007

20) Giedo van der Garde – 1:23.333

21) Jules Bianchi – 1:23.787

22) Max Chilton – 1:23.997

Q2

In a turn of events as shocking as the Pope announcing he’s a Catholic, Mark Webber suffered a KERS failure and electrical issue in Q2, ruining any chances of competing at the front. His final lap put him 7th, but the team were unable to fix his issues for Q3.

Searing lap times from Sebastian Vettel and the Mercedes duo dropped the lap times below the 1:20 mark, while further back the gap between 8th and 12th places was less than a tenth of a second.

Daniel Ricciardo did his chances of a Red Bull drive no harm with another Q3-reaching effort, alongside Sergio Perez, although Jenson Button didn’t do as well. Their last-gasp attempts put Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg out of the final session.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11)  Adrian Sutil – 1:20.569

12) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:20.580

13) Jenson Button – 1:20.777

14) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:21.029

15) Pastor Maldonado – 1:21.133

16) Valtter Bottas -1:21.219

Q3

Both Rosberg and Hamilton, as well as Alonso and Raikkonen, did their first Q3 laps on scrubbed soft tyres, resulting in their lap times nearly a second off Vettel’s pace. Mark Webber made no appearance in this session, the team deciding that his car issues negated any advantages to setting a time.

Sergio Perez set a very slow time, albeit on the medium tyre, giving him a strategic advantage for tomorrow’s race. Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo lined up ahead of the McLaren driver.

The top 6 all went for one last attempt in the final few minutes, all on new soft tyres. Oddly enough, despite going extremely fast in the first sector, both Rosberg and Grosjean were unable to unseat the Red Bull. Fernando Alonso took what would become 5th position, with Kimi Raikkonen one place behind.

Lewis Hamilton had played down his chances of a win earlier this weekend, but pole position was still in reach, as demonstrated with a 1:19.388 lap time – just 0.038 seconds faster than Vettel. The Red Bull driver will start from the dirty side of the grid, but watch out for Romain Grosjean in 3rd, who has looked threatening all weekend.

Hamilton scrapes pole position for German Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton endured severe pressure from Sebastian Vettel to take pole position at the Nurburgring.

Teammate Nico Rosberg was hugely frustrated to be knocked out in Q2, while Ferrari are taking up an alternate strategy for tomorrow’s race. Here is what happened:

Q1

Williams suffered a disastrous performance at their 600th Grand Prix weekend, with both drivers failing to make the cut.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:31.693

18) Pastor Maldonado – 1:31.707

19) Charles Pic – 1:32.937

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:33.063

21) Giedo van der Garde – 1:33.734

22) Max Chilton – 1:34.098

Q2

Vettel’s 1:29.992 initially put him fastest, and indicated that the frontrunners were even faster than predicted. An impressive time from Romain Grosjean put him within 0.01 seconds of Vettel’s time.

The two Ferraris and Raikkonen soon knocked the Red Bull off its pedestal. However, the biggest shock of the session was when Nico Rosberg decided to stay in the garage, blinked, and found himself lying in 11th place. The Mercedes team were confident they would get through, but such was the pace of Ricciardo, Hulkenberg and Button, Rosberg will start from 11th place.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Rosberg – 1:30.326

12) Paul di Resta – 1:30.697

13) Sergio Perez – 1:30.933

14) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:31.010

15) Adrian Sutil – 1:31.010

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:31.104

Q3

With Rosberg out of the running, Hamilton was left to defend against both Red Bulls in Q3.

Both Ferraris and Jenson Button went out on the medium tyres, indicating that they didn’t feel that they were in the running. With Nico Hulkenberg opting not to set a time, this resulted in Daniel Ricciardo sealing an excellent 6th place on the grid.

A 1:29.622 for Vettel put him on provisional pole, with Hamilton soon retaking the lead. Webber’s first two sectors were faster, but a mistake at the end of his lap put him 3rd.

Sebastian’s final attempt put him a tenth ahead of Mercedes once again, but a stellar 1:29.398 from Lewis sealed his pole position. Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean didn’t have enough pace to challenge, and lined up 4th and 5th.

Hamilton storms to pole position for British Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton has delighted the home fans by taking pole position for his home Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Mercedes have locked out the front row, with the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber on row 2 ready to attack. Ferrari and McLaren has poor sessions, with Fernando Alonso only starting 10th, and neither McLaren making it into Q3.

Q1

In a dry but windy session, Mercedes were quick off the mark. A 1:30.995 by Hamilton was the quickest lap all weekend, and saw no response in the first session.

Ferrari almost suffered a huge embarrassment, with their drivers lying 14th and 15th. In particular, Felipe Massa remained in the drop zone until the final few minutes, only matching his teammate’s time despite being on the faster compound tyre.

Esteban Gutierrez was knocked out of Q1 for the 6th time in 8 races, while Pastor Maldonado’s final lap put Valtteri Bottas back in 17th place. While Max Chilton qualified 22nd, Giedo van der Garde will start from the back, after his 10-place grid penalty from Canada.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:32.664

18) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:32.666

19) Charles Pic – 1:33.866

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:34.108

21) Giedo van der Garde – 1:35.48 1

22) Max Chilton – 1:35.858

Q2

Sebastian Vettel’s initial run in Q2 was 0.005 seconds faster than Hamilton’s Q1 lap – a signal that Red Bull were still in the running.

With an empty seat left by Webber at the end of this year, both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo were keen to impress. However, Vergne ran wide on his final lap, and could only manage 13th, while Ricciardo made it into Q3.

Both McLarens were knocked out, taking only 11th and 14th places. Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen almost joined them, surprisingly, but both drivers scraped through.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:31.649

12) Felipe Massa – 1:31.779

13) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:31.785

14) Sergio Perez – 1:32.082

15) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:32.211

16) Pastor Maldonado – 1:32.359

Q3

A 4-way shootout was on the cards, with both Mercedes and Red Bull duking it out in Q3. Mark Webber was first up, setting a 1:30.505, but this was quickly beaten by Nico Rosberg by almost half a second.

Hamilton then put himself on top, while Vettel’s first attempt only put him 4th. With a few minutes to go, Rosberg’s second flying lap was initially faster, until a blinding lap by Lewis put him 4 tenths clear of the rest of the field.

Vettel could only slot in front of Webber in response, locking out the second row.

Raikkonen and Alonso were the disappointments of the day, only managing 9th and 10th respectively. Almost unnoticed performances were done by Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo, taking 5th and 6th places. Adrian Sutil was 7th, while Romain Grosjean marginally beat Raikkonen to 8th place.

Hamilton was ecstatic to take pole in front of his home crowd, but will he be able to hold off his 3 rivals behind?

Vettel pips Hamilton for Canadian Grand Prix pole

Sebastian Vettel will start at the front of the grid for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix, ending a thrilling qualifying session just ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas was the star of the day, earning a superb 3rd place on the grid in changeable conditions. Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen both struggled, while the McLarens and Felipe Massa didn’t even make it into Q3.

Q1

A shower before Q1 dampened the track, although many drivers tried an initial run on slicks, with little reward.

With a 10-place grid penalty for tomorrow, Romain Grosjean was hoping for a good performance to minimise the damage. However, a poor closing lap put him 19th, and with his penalty will start from the back of the grid.

Most of Q1 was relatively wet, but as the track dried out towards the end, Paul di Resta was caught out on old intermediate tyres, and didn’t progress past the first session for the second race in a row.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Paul di Resta – 1:24.908

18) Charles Pic – 1:25.626

19) Romain Grosjean – 1:25.716

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:26.508

21) Max Chilton – 1:27.062

22) Giedo van der Garde – 1:27.110

Q2

A spurt of rain between Q1 and Q2 threw many teams’ plans into disarray, with most drivers losing 5 seconds per lap once they had left the pits for the second session.

A crash for Felipe Massa with 2 minutes to go almost ruined the days of several drivers, but a swift red flag meant that drivers were able to set a lap afterwards. The Ferrari driver made a mistake entering braking for Turn 3, spun and slammed into the barriers, leaving him 16th on the grid.

Both McLarens suffered a dismal qualifying performance. Sergio Perez will take little solace in beating Jenson Button today, considering they lie in 12th and 14th places respectively. Nico Hulkenberg was initially impressive in Q2, but wasn’t quick enough after the red flag restart, and lies 11th.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:29.435

12) Sergio Perez – 1:29.761

13) Pastor Maldonado – 1:29.917

14) Jenson Button – 1:30.068

15) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:30.315

16) Felipe Massa – 1:30.354

Q3

While the track dried slightly after Q2, it still wasn’t dry enough for slick tyres.

Vettel’s first attempt was enough to put him on top, with Rosberg slotting behind. He was soon pushed down the order by Hamilton, Webber, and Vaterri Bottas, who excelled in the challenging conditions.

Nico’s next lap put him 4th, while Fernando Alonso could only manage 6th, with Kimi Raikkonen a disappointing 9th – the Lotus appeas to be out of its comfort zone in the wet.

Both Toro Rossos made it into Q3, with Jean-Eric Vergne taking a respectable 7th position, ahead of Adrian Sutil, Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo.

While most drivers put on a new set of tyres for the final few minutes, a badly-timed shower dampened the track further, and secured Vettel’s pole position.

Rosberg takes thrilling Monaco pole position

Nico Rosberg has taken his third pole position in a row for the Monaco Grand Prix, after a fantastic shootout between 5 different drivers in challenging conditions.

Lewis Hamilton was once again cast to one side, and forced to settle for 2nd place. Sebastian Vettel was extremely close to the Mercedes drivers, just a single tenth of a second off the pace.

Q1

The rain began to fall half an hour before Q1 began, dampening the track to the extent where intermediate tyres were a necessity.

Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean remained in the garage though, as both drivers were undergoing repairs after shunts in third practice. Grosjean made it out with 5 minutes to go, and got through to Q2, but Massa will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid.

Jules Bianchi became the third driver to encounter trouble, after his Marussia overheated while waiting in the pit lane, then failed on the run up to Massenet.

The session was filled with small incidents, mostly drivers locking their brakes at Sainte Devote and Mirebeau, as well as the Nouvelle Chicane. The changing conditions allowed Giedo van der Garde to slip into the next session, at the expense of Paul di Resta, who was left fuming on the team radio.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Paul di Resta – 1:26.322

18) Charles Pic – 1:26.633

19) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:26.917

20) Max Chilton – 1:27.303

21) Jules Bianchi – N/A

22) Felipe Massa – N/A

Q2

The times again tumbled throughout Q2, going from 1:35s to 1:23s in a matter of minutes.

The decision to switch to slick tyres was first made by Giedo van der Garde, and quickly copied by the other teams. The Caterham driver managed to qualify an impressive 15th place, ahead of Pastor Maldonado.

Jean-Eric Vergne made it into Q3 for the first time this season, while Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean were frustrated to be knocked out of Q2. Valtteri Bottas stayed out on intermediate tyres too long, and it resulted in him being only 14th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:18.331

12) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:18.344

13) Romain Grosjean – 1:18.603

14) Valtteri Bottas – 1:19.077

15) Giedo van der Garde – 1:19.408

16) Pastor Maldonado – 1:21.688

Q3

The track had dried sufficiently for all drivers to start on super-soft tyres as Q3 began. After drivers’ first round of laps, Sebastian Vettel was on provisional pole.

Fernando Alonso changed tyres in the final few minutes, but he struggled massively to put temperature into his tyres. He eventually got a fast lap together, but it was only good enough for 6th place. Kimi Raikkonen was similarly not quick enough for the pole shootout, taking a quiet 5th position.

While both McLaren drivers made it through to Q3, they didn’t impress in terms of pace. Sergio Perez took 7th, while Jenson Button was 9th, behind Adrian Sutil’s Force India.

It was therefore a clear-cut Red Bull vs Mercedes shootout, with Vettel taking first blood. However, a set of searing laps from both Rosberg and Hamilton locked out the front row, with Vettel and Webber being forced to settle for row 2.

 

Chinese Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton seals inaugural pole position for Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton has earned his first pole position of his Mercedes career in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen will start alongside him on the front row, the first time he has done so since 2008. Fernando Alonso is 3rd, while the Red Bulls had a torrid session, struggling with fuel pressures and the option tyres. Sebastian Vettel is 9th, while Mark Webber drops all the way to 22nd after running out of fuel in Q2.

Here is what happened this morning:

Q1

Q1 saw a suspiciously slow start to the session, taking almost 10 minutes for a single car to venture out on track.

This was due to the option tyre being weaker than Pirelli had predicted, and teams feared they would only be good for one or two flying laps.

Eventually the Mercedes drivers set the pace, almost half a second faster than anybody else. Felipe Massa continued his good run of form,  finishing higher than teammate Alonso, while Webber and Vettel attempted to minimise the amount of time spent on track.

Jules Bianchi impressed again, running as high as 16th until the Toro Rosso’s final runs, but he was still within 0.7 seconds of Esteban Gutierrez’s Sauber.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Valtteri Bottas – 1:37.769

18) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:37.990

19) Jules Bianchi – 1:38.780

20) Max Chilton – 1:39.537

21) Charles Pic – 1:39.614

22) Giedo van der Garde – 1:39.660

Q2

The second part of qualifying saw most of the focus on Red Bull. They started the session on scrubbed option tyres, landing them 5th and 8th places initially.

But disaster struck Mark Webber, who slowed to a halt at Turn 14 with a fuel pressure problem. It later emerged that Mark’s car was underfuelled, and he will drop to the back of the grid as punishment.

After a disappointing Friday, Sergio Perez was in for more bad form today, as he exited Q2 only 12th, while his teammate easily slotted into Q3.

Daniel Ricciardo impressed with 9th place, well ahead of his teammate, and the first time he has gotten into Q3 since Bahrain 2012.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Paul di Resta – 1:36.287

12) Sergio Perez – 1:36.314

13) Adrian Sutil – 1:36.405

14) Mark Webber – 1:36.679

15) Pastor Maldonado – 1:37.139

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:37.199

Q3

Again, it was a slow start to Q3, with only Sebastian Vettel venturing out on track in the opening minutes. However, he pitted soon after, indicating he was not about to set a fast lap in this session.

Nico Hulkenberg attempted the same strategy, while Jenson Button set a slow lap time on the primes to ensure he was to qualify ahead of the two Germans.

It was surprising to see two of the big names participate, but the other drivers weren’t so conservative. Kimi Raikkonen set the initial pace with a 1:34.7, but this was smashed by Hamilton by nearly 3 tenths of a second.

Nico Rosberg made a mistake in the final corner, and could only manage 4th, behind Fernando Alonso, who avoided being out-qualified by his teammate for the 5th time in a row. Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo went almost unnoticed in Q3, taking 6th and 7th respectively.

Obviously, Hamilton is in the best starting position for the win tomorrow, but he has some stiff competition breathing down his neck – Raikkonen, Alonso, Rosberg and even Vettel will also be in contention.

Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying: Vettel eases to pole, Raikkonen penalised

Sebastian Vettel has taken a comfortable pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix, in tricky conditions where rain fell halfway through the session.

Championship leader Kimi Raikkonen initially qualified 7th, but received a 3-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Rosberg. The Ferraris will start 2nd and 3rd, with Felipe Massa out-qualifying Fernando Alonso for the fourth race in a row.

Q1

Vettel came within almost 0.2 seconds of being knocked out of Q1. Himself, along with Mark Webber, showed little to no pace throughout the first part of qualifying, with the Australian only lying 11th, and Sebastian 15th.

There was an interesting split between drivers who were attempting to use the medium tyres to gain grid position, and those who were conserving them for the race. Adrian Sutil was one of the few drivers pushing hard in Q1, setting a 1:36.809 to finish fastest.

Jules Bianchi produced another impressive qualifying performance, coming within 0.5 seconds of getting into Q2. He beat teammate Max Chilton by over 1.2 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:38.157

18) Valtteri Bottas – 1:38.207

19) Jules Bianchi – 1:38.434

20) Charles Pic – 1:39.314

21) Max Chilton – 1:39.672

22) Giedo van der Garde – 1:39.932

Q2

Paul di Resta was the first driver to go out on track, and was the first to pit – which was a mistake.

Rain fell about halfway through Q2, rendering half of the track unusable on slicks, and the other half bone dry. Intermediates were required, and Di Resta wasn’t able to set a fast time because of this. Despite this, he valiantly tried to go out again, but spun twice in the process.

Once again, the Red Bulls struggled, with Vettel only getting into Q3 by the skin of his teeth. Romain Grosjean was eliminated in Q2, as it emerged this weekend that the Frenchman is not receiving parts that are going onto teammate Raikkonen’s car.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Romain Grosjean – 1:37.636

12) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:38.125

13) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:38.822

14) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:39.221

15) Paul di Resta – 1:44.509

16) Pastor Maldonado – N/A

Q3

With the rain still falling, Q3 was busy from the offset, as teams feared the conditions would get worse the longer they waited.

This wasn’t the case though, and with several minutes to go, the track had dried to the point where drivers began to consider the slick tyres. Vettel pitted, but took on a fresh set of intermediates. His teammate stayed out, which backfired later on.

Webber briefly went fastest, but was quickly beaten by Lewis Hamilton, and then Fernando Alonso. There wasn’t enough time for him to get a new set of inters, and his current set were too worn for him to set another lap, so he fell to 5th place.

Vettel, meanwhile, went almost a second faster by going out on track at the right time. Raikkonen and Hamilton had one last chance to unseat the Red Bull, but couldn’t improve on their previous times. Felipe Massa then pipped his teammate to 2nd place, for the 4th race in a row.

Raikkonen finished the session 7th, but was demoted to 10th after he was judged to have held up Nico Rosberg near the end of Q3.

Times from Q3:

1) Sebastian Vettel – 1:49.674

2) Felipe Massa – 1:50.587

3) Fernando Alonso – 1:50.727

4) Lewis Hamilton – 1:51.699

5) Mark Webber – 1:52.244

6) Nico Rosberg – 1:52.519

7) Jenson Button – 1:53.175

8) Adrian Sutil – 1:53.439

9) Sergio Perez – 1:54.136

10) Kimi Raikkonen (+3) – 1:52.970

 

 

Vettel heads Red Bull lockout, Hamilton shines in Australia qualifying

After a 16-hour delay, qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix finally got underway, with Sebastian Vettel taking a comfortable pole position, 0.4 seconds ahead of Mark Webber.

However, the star of the day was undoubtedly Lewis Hamilton, who excelled in his new Mercedes role to take 3rd position. Teammate Nico Rosberg initially impressed in the damp Q2 session, but fell away as the session progressed.

Here is what happened across the 30-minute session:

Q2

Similar to yesterday’s qualifying, Nico Rosberg was immediately fast, remaining at the top of the timesheets for the majority of Q2. Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton all went head-to-head, each of them improving across the 15 minute session.

The track was still damp from rain earlier that morning, which gradually dried out. With several minutes to go, McLaren made a brave call, and switched both Button and Perez to the slick tyres. It failed to pay off, with both cars sliding off on their first laps. Jenson immediately pitted, while Sergio struggled on, and finished 15th.

Button recovered from his poor call, and snatched 4th on a new set of intermediates.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:38.067

12) Adrian Sutil – 1:38.134

13) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:38.778

14) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.042

15) Sergio Perez – 1:39.900

16) Valtteri Bottas – 1:40.290

Q3

While the Red Bulls, Ferraris and Mercedes drivers exited the pits on intermediates, the other remaining drivers waited in the pits, in anticipation of the the track drying out further.

This occurred with 5 minutes to go, and the frontrunners were forced to scramble back to the pits for the super-softs.

Quickly enough, the times began to tumble. Button, Hamilton and then Vettel lowered the fastest time by huge margins, with Vettel eventually setting a 1:27.407 on his second last attempt.

Mark Webber was in with a shot of pipping his team-mate, but his terrible home form continued, with the Aussie making a mistake in the final sector and dropping 4 tenths.

The Ferraris slotted into 4th and 5th, with Massa just getting ahead of Alonso. Hamilton hugely impressed with 3rd, while Nico Rosberg was forced to settle for 6th place.

None of them were able to unseat Vettel at the front though, and he starts the 2013 season in a commanding position.

Times from Q3:

1) Sebastian Vettel – 1:27.407

2) Mark Webber – 1:27.827

3) Lewis Hamilton – 1:28.087

4) Felipe Massa – 1:28.490

5) Fernando Alonso – 1:28.493

6) Nico Rosberg – 1:28.523

7) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:28.738

8) Romain Grosjean – 1:29.013

9) Paul di Resta – 1:29.305

10) Jenson Button – 1:30.357

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers