June 21, 2014

F1 Quals: Austria 2014

It's always exciting when the Circus comes to a new racetrack, and so far it seems like everybody and their sister loves the RedBullRing.  At least, not a single driver has said a negative word about it where an ink-stained wretch from the media could hear it, which is not the same thing.  The assembled reportage staff speak of the Media Center in the same hushed, reverent tones that you might hear used when referring to the Sistine Chapel.  In short, Dieter Materschitz has spent his energy-drink money wisely.  But all of that is mere water under the bridge if the race stinks, and the first step to stinky racing is Quals.  So how'd those go today?

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:10.292 1:09.239 1:08.759
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:10.356 1:09.096 1:08.846
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:09.695 1:08.974 1:08.944
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:10.405 1:09.479 1:09.285
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:10.395 1:09.638 1:09.466
6 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.081 1:09.473 1:09.515
7 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:09.678 1:09.490 1:09.619
8 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:10.285 1:09.657 1:10.795
9 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 1:09.514 1:09.092 No time
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:10.389 1:09.624 No time
11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:10.124 1:09.754
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:10.252 1:09.780
13 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:10.630 1:09.801
14 Crashtor Maldozer Lotus-Renault 1:10.821 1:09.939
15 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:10.161 1:10.073
16 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:10.461 1:10.642
17 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:10.825

18 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 1:11.349

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:11.412

20 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:11.673

21 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:11.775

22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:12.673

Q1 107% Time

Last race, we saw Mercedes dream of a clean sweep of wins go by the wayside.  This time around, it's the pole position sweep gone, and from a highly surprising source no less.  It's Williams with the front row lockout, and Felipe Massa taking the honors of place.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.

A lot of the reason for this stunning upset was the FIA putting their foot down and saying "if you run wide at Turn 8, if all four tires cross the white line delineating the border of the track, your lap will be excluded.  No arguments allowed, the track border is the track border."  Reportedly half the field had at least one lap nixed during the Qual sessions today, the primary sufferer being Lewis Hamilton.  His first timed lap in Q3 would have ultimately put him third on the grid, but was disallowed.  His second attempt ended early after a big spin at Turn 2.  Force India's Nico Hulkenberg also had his one flying lap killed by a track violation.

The big shocker, though, has to be 4Time Vettel not even making it to Q3.  His final try to get up into the Top 10 at Red Bull's home race came to a swift end when he ran wide at Turn 3.  Even your sleep-deprived Pond Leader knew this was quite the moment, as I managed a quiet "yay".  But I'm not biased.  I just enjoy knowing that Vettel is going to whine and moan some more, revealing his true colors to the world.  Where's that finger now, Sebby?

But let's step back from the schadenfreude and instead celebrate Felipe Massa's first pole position since 2008.  Yeah, it's not going to mean much once the race starts and the Mercedes cars start their charge, because it's clear that the Silver Arrows are still the class of the field, but there's that brief glimmer of hope, of mechanical insecurity for Mercedes.  Hamilton went off due to his rear brakes locking up... another brake failure like in Montreal could take both him and Rosberg out of contention easily.

And if that happens, we suddenly get the image of Felipe Massa racing against HWMNBN for a race win, this time with no Ferrari team orders getting in the way... and who doesn't want to see THAT?

Race is Sunday, we'll be here!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:09 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 670 words, total size 17 kb.


During the race proper, can the stewards enforce that section of the track? If so, how? pit-lane drive-throughs?

If that's what they do, it could really mess around with the race.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 21, 2014 07:03 PM (+rSRq)

2 The rules don't say you can't leave the surface of the track during the race, only that you're not allowed to gain any advantage by doing so, right? Basically if you're going to try pulling a pass in the 8-9 complex and don't keep the car on the track while doing it, you're obliged to let the other guy take his position back. And if you don't do that, then the stewards can drop the penalty hammer on you. (Drive-throughs or stop-go penalties?)

With the colder conditions and a couple comments by the announcers that Williams had come up with some way to get heat in the tires faster, it makes sense that they would see that translate into a pole. Whether that will be an advantage that holds up through the race, now... different question altogether. Remember last year how the Mercedes had the double-DRS system that gave them great qualifying times and let them grab some poles, but that the advantage didn't really help them running their races.

Posted by: Avatar at June 22, 2014 01:38 AM (zJsIy)

3 Charlie Whiting said "any car that leaves the racing surface" would have the lap DQ'd.  Not... "and gains an advantage," just "leaves". 

Now, the drivers were all saying the fastest way through Turn 8 was to leave the racing surface, so they'd be gaining an advantage anyway. 

But the "gaining an advantage" thing is a standing regulation.  This goes even farther.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 22, 2014 06:54 AM (pOSg3)

4 Can they deduct a lap during a regular race?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 22, 2014 07:29 AM (+rSRq)

5 No, but they can give something like a drive-through penalty, or a stop-go, or tack time onto the driver's final total.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 22, 2014 09:21 AM (pOSg3)

6 If you're wondering why Wonderduck hasn't posted about the actual race, his internet connection went out on Sunday morning and hasn't come back yet.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 24, 2014 08:18 AM (+rSRq)

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