Category Archives: Qualifying

Qualifying: China 2010 – Disappointment

With relatives visiting this weekend this blog post will be shorter than normal, and published from my iPhone. That’s if the WordPress App can manage not to lose it like it did with version one of this very post!

Anyway, after a fantastic showing in all three practice sessions and the first two sessions of qualifying I’d consider Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton’s 5th and 6th places respectively, to be disappointing. I expected so much more, and evidently so did Lewis Hamilton given his post qualifying interview.

Not for the first time this season I’ll be hoping for rain to mix things up in the race. I can only hope that the two McLaren MP4-25s have more in the way of race pace than their qualifying positions would indicate, and maybe the McLaren’s superior reliability will come into play.

If’ll be interesting to see Jenson, and especially Lewis, battling with those in front of them, assuming they have the performance levels needed to do just that!

It’s entirely possible that there is a reason for the drop in success during Q3, but as I’m indisposed I haven’t had time to look for answers – please leave a comment with any explanations that have been given, I’ll be entirely grateful.

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Filed under Chinese, Qualifying

Qualifying: Malaysia 2010 – McLaren Gamble and Lose

There isn’t a great deal to write in this blog, it was wet in Malaysia and instead of getting a lap in early to ensure going through to Q2, McLaren left things rather late and the result of that was Lewis Hamilton qualifying on 20th place for tomorrow’s race. Jenson Button had mixed luck in that his fastest time was good enough for 17th place, just one place above the drop zone. However, he then slipped off the track and couldn’t move his car, this meant he could take no further part in qualifying.

Jenson Button in Malaysia, when it was actually dry!

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

So, after the awesome performance of the McLarens in the three sessions (Lewis 1st, 1st, 2nd and Jenson
3rd, 4th, 7th), they start tomorrow’s race in 17th and 20th. The only saving grace is that the Ferraris played the same waiting game, and also lost out. Fernando Alonso starts in 19th place and Felipe Massa starts in 21st place, with Lewis Hamilton in the middle.

Lewis Hamilton on the wet track in Sepang

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

If Lewis doesn’t have a good race tomorrow, and make up a lot of places, then starting in 2nd place, it’s likely that Nico Rosberg will overtake him in the Drivers’ Championship, and he could very well overtake Jenson too. With Mark Weber in pole position and Sebastian Vettel in 3rd it’ll be interesting to see if they score well tomorrow rather than succumb to mechanical failure and mistakes as has dogged them in the previous 2 races of the 2010 season.

You’ll remember that last year the rain was so bad that the race never got to a natural finish and drivers were awarded half points due to the short length of the race. This is all because Bernie Ecclestone wants a later start time so as to be more amenable for European viewers – thanks, but given the immense rains that we know will fall, and have done already, would it not be wiser to start the race earlier?

Jenson Button, close up!

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

That said, with the likes of Hamilton, Button, Alonso and Massa looking to battle the way through to the front, we could be in for a tremendous race…as long as we don’t just see a procession behind the safety car followed by an early finish, again.

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Filed under Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Malaysian, Mark Weber, McLaren, Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel

Qualifying: Australia 2010 – Jenson P4, Lewis P11 & Lewis Hamilton has a police incident

Yesterday, Friday 26th March 2010, Lewis Hamilton was pulled over by the police in Melbourne, Australia and quoted as saying afterwards:

I was driving in an over-exuberant manner and, as a result, was stopped by the police. What I did was silly, and I want to apologise for it.

This would apparently not affect his qualifying today but one has to wonder if that is true after Hamilton failed to get through to the P3 after being only 11th fastest in P2. In fact the official word from the McLaren camp after qualifying was that yesterday’s run in with the police had affected Lewis going into qualifying. Jenson Button made it through to P3 and lines up 4th on the grid for tomorrow’s race, with Sebastian Vettel on pole, Mark Weber in 2nd and Fernando Alonso in 3rd.

Lewis Hamilton in Australia

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

Earlier in the week I entered the @McLaren_eShop prediction contest with an entry of Lewis Hamilton to come 2nd, and Jenson Button 5th. I’m thinking a few miracles may have to happen tomorrow for that to come true. However, with that notorious first turn at Albert Park a few of the cars in front of 2008 Champion Hamilton could fall by the wayside.

It’ll be interesting to see how Jenson Button fairs against the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso in front of him and Felipe Massa behind him. They were clearly faster in Bahrain but Massa did struggle a bit in qualifying with P5 being quite flattering of his overall performance this morning,

Jenson Button at Albert Park

Photo Credit: www.mclaren.com

After the Bahrain GP I’d have put money (I didn’t) on Lewis qualifying ahead of Jenson, who seemed very uncomfortable in his McLaren MP4-25. However, it’s the 2009 Champion who is flying the flag for McLaren after this morning’s qualifying session and as a driver he seems much more at ease with his car.

After winning in Australia in 2008, Lewis Hamilton is having a run of bad luck – let’s hope he puts that to rest in the actual race tomorrow.

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Filed under Australian, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Qualifying

Qualifying: Bahrain 2010 – Surprised to be pleased with 4th

Let’s cover the three practice sessions first, and with just 6 hours till the start of the Grand Prix I’ll keep it brief.

Free Practice 1 – Friday 12th April
Jenson Button – 5th
Lewis Hamilton – 6th

Free Practice 2 – Friday 12th April
Jenson Button – 4th
Lewis Hamilton – 2nd

Free Practice 3 – Saturday 13th April
Jenson Button – 7th
Lewis Hamilton – 12th

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Lewis had a problem with one of his front brakes 15 minutes from the end of FP3 which meant his session was over, meaning he never got a chance to do a simulation qualifying lap ahead. At this point I started to get worried, for 2 reasons: 1) Would they be able to sort Lewis’s car out in time for qualifying?, and 2) How much of a disadvantage would Lewis be at having not done that simulation qualifying lap, given that the Bahrain track had changed since he qualified there in 2010? After what appeared to be a great few weeks of testing, was the McLaren dream of a return to form beginning to unravel?

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That last question seemed to become answered as we started the first qualifying session of 2010, one in which Lewis finished up 6th and Jenson 11th – not what I had been expecting and hoping for, Though both made it into Q2, if Jenson didn’t improve he wouldn’t make it to Q3. The Ferraris and Red Bulls were leading the pack, with Adrian Sutil’s Force India in 3rd.

Q2 saw Lewis remain in 6th, while Jenson did manage to improve from 11th to 10th place – just scraping in to Q3 and a chance to start further up the grid. However, in getting 1st place in Q2, Sebastian Vettel was almost a second faster than Lewis Hamilton and well over a second faster than Jenson Button. It was becoming clear that I comparison to the front runners, McLaren didn’t have the pace.

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You can imagine my delight when Lewis Hamilton managed to claim 4th place on the grid by the end of Q3! 24 hours ago I’d have been disappointed with that result but after Q1 and Q2, the 2nd row of the grid was a major accomplishment. Jenson Button do so well, qualifying in 8th place – but at least it was an improvement from the 10th and 11th place finishes in Q2 and Q1 respectively. In qualifying 4th Lewis was more than 1.1 seconds slower than Sebastian Vettel in pole position, just under a second slower than Felipe Massa in 2nd and more than 6/10ths of a second slower than Fernando Alonso in 3rd. Back in 8th, Jenson was over 4/10ths slower than team mate Lewis in 4th.

While the 4th place achieved by Lewis was a great effort compared to Q1 and Q2 it’s still somewhat of a disappointing first qualifying session for McLaren, not something I either wanted or expected after last season. Downforce on the corners seems to be the problem, so there is hope that on the straights the McLaren’s can make up time and places, especially given the reports that overtaking on the corners is nigh on impossible.

Yesterday evening I received a tweet from 5LiveF1 on Twitter saying this:

Rumours are that McLaren ran with a higher ride height in qualy to counteract the fuel weights tomorrow.

If this is the case then the McLaren MP4-25s of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could perform better in the race than qualifying would have us believe. Until that’s proven it looks like it’s a Ferrari race to lose to lose in Bahrain, given than Vettel’s Red Bull will apparently be harsher on its tyres and has question marks over its reliability.

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It took half a season for McLaren to catch up last season, but they were in a much worse position in comparison to the fastest cars than they are this year. If when the dust settles later on today and we see McLaren with some catching up to do, we can take solace in the fact that they this will happen a lot quicker than last year, and with so many cars with a chance of getting big points the championship would still be within McLaren’s grasp.

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Filed under Adrian Sutil, Bahrain, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Qualifying, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel

Hamilton gets Abu Dhabi Pole in Triumphant Style

Yesterday, Saturday 31st October 2009, saw 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton get his 17th Formula 1 pole position in Abu Dhabi. That in itself is one for the record books, with this being the historic first Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi. What makes this pole position stand out more than most is the margin of victory that Hamilton achieved.

Qualifying has been a very close run event this year, with mere hundreds of a second separating grid places and pole position often changing several times in the closing seconds of Q3. If I were to throw out a figure of 0.7 seconds you’d be forgiven for thinking that was maybe the time separating the top 10 drivers, but no, that was the margin that Lewis Hamilton beat out second place Sebastian Vettel to claim the pole position in today’s race.

EMIRATES ABU DHABI F1 GP AUTO RACING

Lewis Hamilton en route to Pole in Abu Dhabi (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Hamilton had been on form in the three practice sessions with a first and second fastest in the two Friday sessions and second only to champion-elect Jenson Button in Saturday’s 3rd practice. The course, with it’s many twists and turns, seems tailor made for the MP4-24 and even before this blistering qualifying performance the bookies had Lewis Hamilton as the clear favourite to be today’s winner.

With that ever-important KERS boost button, we could see Hamilton pull away from his rivals at the start and be a huge distance ahead when he comes in to make his first pit stop around the 17-20 lap mark, depending on what report you read. When the fuel weights were released it was impressive to see that Hamilton was carrying around the same weight as those around him and more in the case of drivers like Jenson Button. For some great graphical representations of various qualifying stats then I recommend everyone visit Making Up The Numbers – F1 viewed from the numbers perspective.

Heikki Kovalainen wasn’t so lucky and after being impressive himself in practice, being the man to beat Lewis Hamilton into 2nd place in Friday Practice 2, he made it through to Q2 only to have gearbox failure and qualify in 13th place. It didn’t end there, needing a replacement gearbox Kovalainen gets an automatic 5 place grid penalty and will start today’s race from 18th. He is in a great car to make up places but the nature and dustiness of the track may not allow much opportunity for overtaking. Heikki Kovalainen’s swan song at McLaren may not be the great race it could of and really should have been.

As was mentioned before, Sebastian Vettel qualified in 2nd and with Rubens Barrichello qualifying in 4th it would seem that 2nd place in the Drivers Championship is within reach for the young Red Bull driver. With Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in 12th and Giancarlo Fisichella in 20th, 3rd place in the constructors championship should be heading to McLaren.

Many are reporting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is Lewis Hamilton’s to lose, let’s hope he doesn’t.

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Filed under Abu Dhabi, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Ferrari, Giancarlo Fisichella, Grand Prix, Heikki Kovalainen, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Qualifying, Red Bull, Rubens Barichello, Sebastian Vettel