Tag Archives: qualifying

Hamilton storms to Hungary pole position

Lewis Hamilton has taken his 22nd career pole position, and the 150th for the McLaren team. He will start the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Romain Grosjean, who qualified 0.3 seconds behind.

Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button were 3rd and 4th, while the Ferrari drivers struggled for pace, while Webber and Schumacher didn’t even make it into Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

With a scorching 45 degree track temperature, the Lotus cars were unsurprisingly the first out. Kimi Raikkonen’s 1:23.273 was the first fast lap of the day. Fernando Alonso was set to pip that time, but was held up by a Marussia.

Raikkonen soon improved by another half a second. Second-placed Jenson Button could only manage a 1:23.3 for the time being. However, teammate Lewis Hamilton took another 3 tenths off the fastest time.

Felipe Massa made several attempts to set a lap time, but on each occassion was held up by Michael Schumacher. On the fourth lap, he managed to move into 5th, but was held up again on his subsequent lap.

Lewis was the first to move into the 1:21 zone, after 6 laps on the medium tyre. Bruno Senna continued on his good practice pace, taking second position. Oddly, Fernando Alonso was struggling, and was forced to take on the softer tyre to continue into Q2, even if he was beaten by Paul di Resta.

With only a few minutes left on the clock, Button, Perez, Vettel and Webber all were teetering above the drop zone. All but Sebastian went out again to improve their lap times. Vettel was very nearly caught out by a charging Kamui Kobayashi, but survived in 17th place.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:23.250

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:23.576

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:24.167

21) Charles Pic – 1:25.244

22) Timo Glock – 1:25.476

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:25.916

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:26.178

Q2

The Mercedes drivers were the first out on track, Michael Schumacher abandoning his first lap after a mistake at turn 4. Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa quickly went into the 1:21 zone, spurring a stream of fast laps from other drivers.

Again the Red Bulls struggled, initially going 5th and 6th, while the Lotuses took first and second. Soon after, Hamilton slashed another 0.5 seconds off the fastest time.

The Ferraris improved to 2nd and 3rd, Alonso finding it difficult to beat even Massa. After a flurry of activity, Mark Webber was left in 10th place, and Bruno Senna pushed him even further down the order. A dust cloud pulled up by Pastor Maldonado distracted Michael Schumacher, leaving him in 17th place.

Mercedes concluded a dismal afternoon, with Nico Rosberg 13th, and little prospects for the race.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Mark Webber – 1:21.715

12) Paul di Resta: 1:21.813

13) Nico Rosberg – 1:21.895

14) Sergio Perez – 1:21.895

15) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:22.300

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:22.380

17) Michael Schumacher – 1:22.723

Q3

After an impressive Q2, Nico Hulkenberg was straight out on track for Q3 – albeit on the medium tyre compound.

Lewis Hamilton was set to go fastest, but a massive slide at turn 8 ended his lap. In the first 5 minutes, only Raikkonen, Grosjean, Hamilton and Button set times, the other drivers waiting in the pits.

Sebastian Vettel was set for provisional pole, but lost 0.2 seconds in the final few corners. Pastor Maldonado had to carve his way past both McLarens and Vettel, but still managed 4th place for the moment.

Vettel gave up rather quickly in Q3, leaving the Lotuses, McLarens and Alonso to battle it out at the front. The Ferraris found themselves down in 6th and 7th place, Alonso managing to pip Massa. Kimi Raikkonen was only 5th, but teammate Grosjean nearly beat Hamilton, taking 2nd place. Vettel remained in 3rd, with Button close behind in 4th.

But nobody was able to topple Hamilton’s lap. Despite Grosjean’s final attempt coming close, the McLaren had already set another lap, 0.3 seconds faster than his Lotus rival. The race is Lewis’ to lose tomorrow, but the weather may play a huge part in proceedings…

Perez penalised for impeding Raikkonen and Alonso

Sergio Perez will drop 5 places on the grid for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix.

The Sauber driver was found to have impeded both Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso during Q2. He finished the session 12th, but will now drop down to 17th position for the race.

The stewards stated that the penalty was imposed “due to the driver being involved in two similar offences in the same session.” After the incident with Raikkonen, the Lotus driver complained to his team over the pit radio.

Perez is the fourth driver to suffer a grid penalty this weekend. The other three are Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean, all for unscheduled gearbox changes to their cars.

 

Alonso takes commanding pole position in soaked qualifying

Fernando Alonso will start from pole position for tomorrow’s German Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver mastered the wet conditions, beating his rivals by nearly half a second.

The Red Bulls were 2nd and 3rd, but Mark Webber has incurred a gearbox penalty, and will drop to 8th place. Michael Schumacher impressed for most of the session, eventually taking 4th. The McLarens struggled in Q3, while Felipe Massa languished back in 14th. Here is what happened:

Q1

With the threat of rain imminent, most drivers went straight out onto the track as the session began.

Fernando Aonso was first fastest with a 1:16.7, but the two McLarens went faster by several tenths, with Hamilton leading the charge.

Both Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean were informed that their laps were negated, as they took advantage of the run-off area at turn 1. It didn’t faze Vettel though, as the Red Bull moved up from 15th to 5th.

As Hamilton improved on his time by 0.1 seconds, and was joined by Kamui Kobayashi, the imminent rain clouds convinced most drivers to conclude their runs early. Kimi Raikkonen was one of the few to stay out, slashing over half a second off Lewis’ time, still on the medium tyre.

Several off-track excursions left Grosjean in the drop zone, but the Lotus driver moved into 12th place with 2 minutes to go.

Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg went 2nd and 3rd, pushing Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber near the drop zone. Incredibly, both them and Vettel struggled massively trying to improve – the Red Bulls only 10th and 13th, and Schumacher jumping up to 17th in a last-gasp lap.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.741

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:17.620

20) Vitaly Petrov – 1:18.531

21) Charles Pic – 1:19.220

22) Timo Glock – 1:19.291

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:19.912

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:20.230

Q2

As expected, the rain fell for Q2, and intermediates were the way to go.

The conditons caught out most of the drivers, particularly Romain Grosjean, who slipped and slided across the track lap after lap. The rain got worse as the session continued, so those who set their laps early were at an advantage. This left Hamilton and Schumacher comfortably on top.

However, the worsening conditions caught out several top names, particularly Grosjean and Felipe Massa.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.789

12) Sergio Perez – 1:39.933

13) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:39.985

14) Felipe Massa – 1:40.215

15) Romain Grosjean – 1:40.574

16) Bruno Senna – 1:40.752

17) Nico Rosberg – 1:41.551

Q3

The rain eased slightly for Q3, but the two McLaren cars exited the pits still on full wets. A spot of standing water caught out Nico Hulkenberg on the back straight, the Force India spinning into the gravel trap, but managing to keep going.

Fernando Alonso’s 1:44.7 put him on top, until Vettel pipped that time by a single tenth. Hamilton was set to challenge for top spot, but nearly lost the McLaren at turn 8.

On his next lap, Lewis improved on Sebastian’s time by half a second. Schumacher then took an astonishing 1.7 seconds off that, but Vettel swiftly retook the top spot.

Mark Webber then took another half second off that time, then Alonso slashed another 0.7 seconds off the fastest time. Entering the final lap, Vettel and Webber moved within several tenths of the Ferrari, while Schumacher remained 4th. As the McLarens timed their last laps poorly, they were unable to challenge the frontrunners, leaving Alonso to improve again on his time, and take a commanding pole position.

Nico Hulkenberg took a career-best position of 5th place, with Pastor Maldonado just behind. Button and Hamilton were 7th and 8th, with Di Resta and Raikkonen finishing up the top 10.

Since Mark Webber has incurred a gearbox penalty, he will drop 5 places to 8th place.

Vettel romps away with Canada pole

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The German was 0.3 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber were several tenths further behind, while Jenson Button had another disappointing qualifying session. Here is what happened:

Q1

Despite his fuel coupling issues in practice, Nico Rosberg was the first out of the pits for Q1.

Lewis Hamilton set the first fast time – a 1:16.232. Felipe Massa and Kamui Kobayashi out-braked themselves at turn 1, running over the grass and dumping debris on the tarmac.

The Saubers briefly took first and second, before Fernando Alonso set a 1:15.1 to take top spot. His teammate Massa recovered from his excursion to move up to 3rd.

Michael Schumacher improved on the Ferrari’s time, with a 1:14.8. Sebastian Vettel was the last to set his first time, going 4th. His next time was one tenth faster than the Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen had struggled all through Friday, and was first on the super-softs. Despite this, he was unable to beat the frontrunners. Jenson Button, in a similar state, was only 2nd on the softer compound.

Despite clipping the Wall of Champions, Heikki Kovalainen out-qualified his teammate, as well as the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:16.263

19) Vitaly Petrov 1:16.482

20) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.602

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:17.492

22) Timo Glock – 1:17.901

23) Charles Pic – 1:18.255

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:18.330

Q2

Again, Nico Rosberg was first up, setting a 1:14.568.

Lewis Hamilton then pipped that time by 0.05 seconds. Meanwhile, teammate Button suffered a massive lock-up on his super-softs. Sebastian Vettel improved on the McLaren’s time by another 3 tenths.

After a mistake on his first lap, Fernando Alonso moved to within one tenth of Vettel.

Paul di Resta, Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg all moved into the top 10. Felipe Massa just scraped into 10th place, then improved to 8th.

The two Lotuses struggled massively, with Romain Grosjean only just making it through to the top 10. A crash by Pastor Maldonado meant that Kimi Raikkonen was stuck in 12th.

The yellow flag saved Jenson Button from yet another embarrassing exit from Q2.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:14.688

12) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:14.734

13) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:14.748

14) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:15.078

15) Sergio Perez – 1:15.156

16) Bruno Senna – 1:15.170

17) Pastor Maldonado – 1:15.231

Q3

The McLarens were first out of the pits for Q3. Lewis Hamilton made a mistake on his first attempt, while Jenson Button opted for the prime tyre.

A 1:14.664 put Rosberg briefly on top, before being toppled by Felipe Massa. Hamilton’s next lap put him ahead by 0.02 seconds, before the time was smashed by Vettel by another half a second.

In the final two minutes, all drivers bar Button went out on track. Vettel improved on his time by another tenth of a second, and Hamilton was unable to match it.

Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber tried to beat the Red Bull, but only got 3rd and 4th. This left Vettel to take his 32nd career pole position, 3 tenths ahead of his nearest competitor.

Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean were 6th and 7th. Paul di Resta and Michael Schumacher were behind, the latter of which felt he was held up by Massa. Button was the only driver not to break into the 1:15 zone.

Schumacher fastest, Webber to start from pole in Monaco

Mark Webber will start from pole position for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix.

However, he didn’t set the fastest time. For the second time in two races, the fastest driver has incurred a grid penalty, but it wasn’t Pastor Maldonado as many had expected. Amazingly, it was Michael Schumacher who took provisional pole from the Red Bull.

After his collision with Bruno Senna in Spain, Michael will start 6th in Monaco. The Red Bulls were 1st and 10th, in contrasting fortunes, while Sergio Perez had another shunt with the barriers. This is what happened:

Q1

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Sergio Perez limps back to the pits

Charles Pic was the first to exit the pits, but was blocked by Pedro de la Rosa on his first attempt.

Fernando Alonso was the first to set a fast lap, setting a 1:17.128. However, the red flag was quickly out, as Sergio Perez hit the barrier for the second year in a row. He understeered horribly out of the Swimming Pool, and made heavy contact with the barriers.

The green flag saw a flurry of activity, as drivers scrambled to set a fast lap. Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton swiftly went 1st and 2nd, with Nico Rosberg going 4th. On his next lap, the Mercedes driver improved his lap by more than half a second.

The Lotuses were very late setting their times. Romain Grosjean leaped up to 2nd with 3 minutes to go, while Kimi Raikkonen was held up by Vitaly Petrov, and pitted for super-softs with just a few minutes to go. Vettel and Kobayashi followed the Finn’s tactics.

Kamui Kobayashi went up to 2nd, with Vettel and Raikkonen 4th and 5th. Nico Hulkenberg took top spot, after setting his best lap with over 5 minutes to go.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:16.538

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:17.404

20) Timo Glock – 1:17.947

21) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:18.096

22) Charles Pic – 1:18.476

23) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:19.310

24) Sergio Perez – N/A

Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Button caused a shock by exiting in Q2

Super-softs were the way to go in Q2 as the session got underway.

Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher quickly went 1st and 2nd, before they were split by Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

Jean-Eric Vergne was the next driver to make contact with the barriers, breaking off his front wing and damaging his suspension. It did little to disrupt the session, apart from holding up Felipe Massa.

Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean moved into the top 10, displacing Vettel and Kobayashi. Felipe Massa took the top spot, while Vettel went back into 8th.

It soon turned into a mad charge to survive Q2. Bruno Senna was first up, failing to move further than 14th. Kimi Raikkonen slipped into 10th, while Jenson Button was only 13th. Nico Hulkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi were briefly in the top 10, but were pushed out in the final few laps.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:15.421

12) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:15.508

13) Jenson Button – 1:15.536

14) Bruno Senna – 1:15.709

15) Paul di Resta – 1:15.718

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:15.878

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:16.885

Q3

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Schumacher was fastest, but will not start on pole position

Nico Rosberg was first up, but backed off on his first attempt. Romain Grosjean set a 1:14.639 to take top spot, with Nico Rosberg pipping him by 0.05 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was 0.3 seconds off the pace, with Mark Webber moving into 3rd position. While the track was quiet with 3 minutes to go, Felipe Massa exited the pits. He went 8th, while Kimi Raikkonen took 6th.

Pastor Maldonado was next up, but was slightly held up by Massa. Fortunately, he didn’t vent his anger on the Ferrari like he did in third practice.

Fernando Alonso zipped up to 5th, but Mark Webber shocked many by flying onto provisional pole. Massa took 6th, while neither of the Lotuses improved on their times.

However, it wasn’t over yet. Qualifying was completely turned on its head, as Michael Schumacher blasted his way to the top of the timesheets. His 1:14.301 was marginally faster than anyone else, but his 5 place grid penalty from Spain drops him to 6th. This means that Mark Webber will start from pole position tomorrow.

Nico Rosberg will join him on the front row, with Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean just behind. The Ferraris were split by Schumacher, with Raikkonen, Maldonado and Vettel filling the top 10.

Hamiton’s penalty: Was it fair?

The smile has surely slipped from Hamilton's face after his disqualification

The smile has surely slipped from Hamilton’s face after his disqualification

Lewis Hamilton’s most recent penalty has drawn as much controversy as you’d expect. The Brit’s demotion to 24th on the grid has ruined his chances of a probable victory, over a fuel issue which probably wouldn’t have cost him pole.

However, others have argued that the penalty was fair – after all, this isn’t the first time McLaren have under-fuelled their car.

Let’s have a look at both arguments…

For

On one side, rules are rules. FIA Article 6.6 deals with how fuel samples are carried out, and it clearly states that “the car concerned must first have been driven back to the pits under its own power.”

Clearly, this was not the case. While Lewis stopped on track with enough fuel for the sample, he should have been forced to go back to the pits like everybody else – and this would have caused him to drop below the limit.

Furthermore, it soon became clear that McLaren were not being completely honest with the media over the incident. After qualifying, Martin Whitmarsh stated several times that the stoppage was not fuel-related, which obviously turned out to be completely false. The problem was identified after Lewis left the pits, and management surely must have been immediately alerted to the situation.

Their behaviour in this case should not have earned them extra punishment, but still reflects very badly on them as a team.

Against

At the end of the day, a very simple argument may be the best one – a 23 place grid drop is extremely harsh for such an infringement.

The extra fuel in Hamilton’s car to bring him back to the pits would have slowed him down slightly, but nowhere near enough for him to lose pole position, as he evidently had it in the bag.

Others claim that since the incident occurred in Q3, the penalty should only drop him out of the top 10 and no further. This would make more sense, as the drivers knocked out in Q2 clearly suffered no loss from this debacle, and therefore shouldn’t gain a place.

Personal opinion

I feel that, at the end of the day, rules are rules. It certainly is a harsh penalty, but in no way unfair.

The half lap of fuel that was required cost him about 0.05-0.1 tenths of a second on his flying lap, well below the gap between him and Pastor Maldonado, but this makes no difference. Whether a car is 1 tenth or 10 seconds ahead, it doesn’t matter – all drivers should have to abide by the same rules.

Put it this way: If Michael Schumacher – in his domination years –¬†qualified 0.5 seconds ahead of anyone else, while using an illegal fuel mixture that gave him an extra 0.1 seconds, does that make it acceptable? Of course not. It’s not a perfect example, as Lewis or the team clearly weren’t trying to break the rules in such a manner, but the fundamental point remains.

If McLaren/Hamilton want fair treatment from the FIA, then they will have to deserve it. All 24 drivers should abide by the rules in the correct manner, and if one breaks the rules, they should be punished accordingly, no matter how insignificant the incident. Look at Sauber – a tiny rear wing radius issue caused them to be thrown out of qualifying in Australia 2011, and they deserved it.

With such a tight and unpredictable 2012 grid, McLaren should know better than to get caught up in such petty incidents – it may cost them the title.

Hamilton thrown out of qualifying for fuel-related stoppage, Maldonado now on pole position

Pastor Maldonado will take his first ever pole position

Pastor Maldonado will take his first ever pole position

Lewis Hamilton has been excluded from Spanish GP qualifying, as the team illegally didn’t fuel up his car to the correct amount required.

FIA article 6.6 states that if a fuel sample is required from a car (all cars in Q3 are required), then “the car concerned must first have been driven back to the pits under its own power”.

Hamilton stopped on track at Campsa corner, about half way through the track. It is understood that he did have the fuel amount required when he stopped, but was instructed to pull over by his mechanics. More than likely, if he had continued on, he would have dropped below the limit.

Lewis will start the Spanish Grand Prix from the back of the grid, behind the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan – who was allowed to race despite being 1.8 seconds outside the 107% rule.

According to Gary Anderson of the BBC, a McLaren engineer “turned the [fuel] tap to ‘drain’ instead of ‘fill’ briefly, realised his error but engineers sent car out.”

This of course leaves Pastor Maldonado on pole position for tomorrow’s race. If he can hold the pace he showed in qualifying, we will be in for a fascinating race.

Hamilton snatches Spanish pole position from Maldonado

Lewis Hamilton will start on pole position for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.

It was no easy cruise though – Pastor Maldonado was all set to go fastest, until Lewis’ final attempt put him on top. Jenson Button and Mark Webber didn’t even make it into Q3, while Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher opted to stay out of Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

The track remained silent for several minutes, until Paul di Resta exited the pits 5 minutes into the session. His first lap was disrupted by a slow Marussia, however.

Fernando Alonso went straight out on the soft tyre, setting a 1:24.326 to go on top. Kimi Raikkonen was on the hard tyre, and posted a 1:24.580. Sergio Perez, and then Lewis Hamilton, took over the top spot. Michael Schumacher set the fastest time in Sector 1, but only managed 3rd.

Pastor Maldonado soon went half a second faster than anyone else. His 1:23.380 time put him well on top of the timesheets with 5 minutes to go. The Red Bulls stayed in the pits until the final 5 minutes, both taking on the softer compound. Sebastian Vettel was half a second off Maldonado, while Mark Webber moved into 3rd. Kimi Raikkonen got within a tenth of the Williams.

His teammate Romain Grosjean soon overtook Pastor, improving his time by several hundreths of a second. In the final minute, Lewis Hamilton was briefly in danger of being knocked out, but quickly shot back up to 1st, another half second improvement.

Bruno Senna and Jean-Eric Vergne battled it out to survive Q1, but the Williams driver dramatically spun out in sector 3, leaving his beached car in 18th place for tomorrow. Narain Karthikeyan will appear before the stewards to try to start the race, as his HRT was miles outside the 107% rule.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Bruno Senna – 1:24.981

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:25.277

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:25.507

21) Charles Pic – 1:26.582

22) Timo Glock – 1:27.032

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:27.555

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:31.122

Q2

Q2 saw several high-profile shocks, as both Jenson Button and Mark Webber were knocked out of Q2.

Webber decided not to set a lap time in the final few minutes, hoping his 1:22.977 would be enough – which it wasn’t. He will start just behind Jenson Button, who complained of massive understeer in his McLaren.

Like Q1, Pastor Maldonado briefly went fastest, but this time held it, leading Lewis Hamilton. Kamui Kobayashi went 9th, but slowed to a halt at turn 3, and was unable to take any part in Q3.

Felipe Massa was a dismal 17th, just a few hundreths off the Toro Rosso drivers.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:22.944

12) Mark Webber – 1:22.977

13) Paul di Resta – 1:23.125

14) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:23.177

15) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:23.265

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:23.442

17) Felipe Massa – 1:23.447

Q3

Unlike the other two sessions, Sebastian Vettel spent an entire minute sitting at the end of the pit lane, desperate to be first out on track.

However, when the session started, he simply cruised around for a single lap then pitted, indicating he is saving tyres for tomorrow’s race. This tactic was copied by Michael Schumacher, and both cars will start 8th and 9th.

Lewis Hamilton was the first to set a time, with a 1:22.5. It took until the final 5 minutes for this to be challenged, with Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen moving close to Hamilton’s time.

Fernando Alonso went fastest, to the delight of the Spanish crowd. It was short lived though, as Pastor Maldonado caused one of the shocks of the year so far, snatching top spot with just a few minutes to go.

He would have taken pole position, if not for a last-gasp dash by Hamilton to go half a second clear at the front. However, the McLaren was told to turn off his car near Campsa corner, and his car will surely be heavily checked in scrutineering.

Any steward action aside, Hamilton and Maldonado will start from the front row, with Alonso and Grosjean behind. Raikkonen, Perez and Rosberg are 5th, 6th and 7th.

Force India shut out of qualifying TV coverage

Force India have experienced the nasty side of what is supposed to be a fair sporting event

Force India have experienced the nasty side of what is supposed to be a fair sporting event

As many viewers of the Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying session had noticed, the Force India team were completely isolated in terms of television coverage.

While Paul di Resta made it through to Q3, absolutely no shots of either Force India car were shown at all during the three qualifying sessions. During a certain point when only Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were out on track, the cameras focused on a Mercedes in the pits instead.

The team had pulled out of second practice yesterday, to alleviate employees’ fears of a repeat of the violence they were caught up in on Wednesday night.

Because of this, many have speculated that Bernie Ecclestone had ordered his FOM company – who organise and run the camerawork for all F1 events – to completely block the team out of today’s coverage.

A quote from Ecclestone only served to increase these calls:

"Nobody cares if someone is ninth or 11th. Only the people that are watching a 
particular team. I spoke to our people and they were more or less concentrating 
on who was going to be on pole, rather than somebody going to be 10th."
[Seems as if Bernie forgot that the cars in 9th and 11th were Fernando Alonso 
and Kimi Raikkonen"]

As well as this, MetroF1 correspondent Adam-Hay Nicholls had some worrying things to say on the incident over Twitter:

"Not the 1st time they've been instructed not to film a certain team"

[When asked what team was subject to a similar blackout] "All I'll reveal is 
that the name of the team no longer exists"

This was backed up by former FOM employee Nick Daman:

"When I worked for FOM it was well known that the punishment for stepping out 
of line was a TV Blackout ......"

What makes this incident so sickening is that Force India pulled out for the safety of their employees, not to take a stand against FOM or the Bahrain regime. It is understood that Ecclestone offered the team an armed escort back to the team hotel [provided they took part in FP2] but the team declined, opting to head home early.

Personally, I don’t know which is more worrying – that a team would be shut out for protecting its employees, or that this has been done before, and we haven’t noticed.

Vettel takes first pole of 2012 in Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel is back on pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The 2-times world champion pipped Lewis Hamilton by a tenth of a second, with teammate Mark Webber in 3rd. Nico Rosberg was 5th, while neither Michael Schumacher or Kimi Raikkonen were in the top 10. Here is the full report:

Q1

Paul di Resta was the first out on track, as a headwind at turn 4 hindered some teams’ setups. Nico Hulkenberg set the first fast lap of 1:35.970.

Fernando Alonso surprised many by taking on the softer tyres, indicating that Ferrari wish to conserve the medium tyres for the race tomorrow.  While teammate Massa went slower than the Force Indias and Daniel Ricciardo, Kamui Kobayashi set the fastest time by half a second.

The bar was soon lowered by Mark Webber, and then Jenson Button. Unsurprisingly, Alonso’s softer tyres soon put him on top.

Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean beat the fastest time by another 0.5 seconds. The track went quiet until the final few minutes, when Jean-Eric Vergne and Felipe Massa pulled themselves out of the drop zone.

Because track evolution is such a factor in Bahrain, Kamui Kobauashi went 2nd, then Daniel Ricciardo went on top using the soft tyres. Sergio Perez then pipped the Toro Rosso by 0.1 seconds to end the session on top.

Michael Schumacher was pushed down to 17th by Pastor Maldonado, then a last-gasp flyer by Heikki Kovalainen put him into Q2, and knocked the Mercedes out of Q1. Amazingly, the track evolution was so severe that the McLarens were left 15th and 16th.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Michael Schumacher

19) Jean-Eric Vergne

20) Vitaly Petrov

21) Charles Pic

22) Timo Glock

23) Narain Karthikeyan

24) Pedro de la Rosa

Q2

There was a slow response to the start of Q2, with Felipe Massa finally exiting the pits after a few minutes.

He set the intial pace, but was quickly beaten by Perez by 0.6 seconds. Hamilton and Rosberg both set 1:33.2s to take the top 2 spots.

Massa’s later attempt put him 9th. However, he was soon pushed out by Daniel Ricciardo. Paul di Resta went 5th, with the fastest final sector of any driver.

Fernando Alonso was pushed down to 13th, but his final lap put him back up to 4th. Romain Grosjean moved up to 3rd, but at the expense of teammate Raikkonen, who was knocked out of Q2.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Kimi Raikkonen

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nico Hulkenberg

14) Felipe Massa

15) Bruno Senna

16) Heikki Kovalainen

17) Pastor Maldonado

Q3

With track evolution still a massive factor, the end of the session proved to be the climactic finish everyone was expecting.

A nasty lock-up slowed Webber’s first lap, but he still set a 1:32.785. Button was several hundreths off, while Hamilton went a tenth faster than the Red Bull.

Only 4 drivers set times in the first half of Q3, as everyone waited until the final 3 minutes to set their fast laps.

Nico Rosberg was first up, losing out by one tenth of a second. Mark Webber went fastest, before having his lap time shattered by teammate Vettel. Hamilton was 0.1 seconds off Sebastian, while Jenson Button aborted his final lap to finish 4th.

This left Vettel on pole position for the first time in 2012, with Hamilton close behind. Webber and Button will fill row 2, with Rosberg and Ricciardo behind. Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez were 7th and 8th, with Fernando Alonso and Paul di Resta not setting a time.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers