April 16, 2011

F1 Quals: China 2011

Well, that was interesting.  A cloudy, chilly day greeted the teams as they got ready for the all-important Quals session at Shanghai.  That'd make getting heat into the tires a challenge, something the Ferraris have been having problems with anyway.  So how'd it work out?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2011 Grand Prix of China:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:35.674 1:34.776 1:33.706
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.924 1:34.662 1:34.421
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.091 1:34.486 1:34.463
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.272 1:35.850 1:34.670
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:35.389 1:35.165 1:35.119
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.478 1:35.437 1:35.145
7 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:36.133 1:35.563 1:36.158
8 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:35.702 1:35.858 1:36.190
9 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:36.110 1:35.500 1:36.203
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:35.370 1:35.149 No time
11 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:36.092 1:35.874
12 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.046 1:36.053
13 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.147 1:36.236
14 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:35.508 1:36.457
15 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:35.911 1:36.465
16 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:35.910 1:36.611
17 Vicar Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:36.121 1:36.956
18 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:36.468

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Renault 1:37.894

20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:38.318

21 Custard d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:39.119

22 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:39.708

23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:40.212

24 Narain Kittylitter HRT-Cosworth 1:40.445

Q1 107% Time

The obvious shocker here is that Mark Webber was knocked out in Q1.  He'd been having electrical problems during Saturday's 3rd practice session, his KERS system failed (again) in Q1, and he only used hard tires during the 20 minute session.  Despite that, he should have been able to do better than 18th, but there he is.  The cold temps never allowed his tires to heat up sufficiently, I guess.  On the bright side, he'll have three untouched sets of soft tires for the race.

Then Quals got exciting for a different reason.  With about three minutes left in Q2, Vitaly (The Red Menace) Petrov turned in the fourth-fastest time of the session when his gearbox suddenly contained nothing but neutrals and hate.  Unable to get his car off the circuit, Charlie Whiting had no choice but to throw the red flag with 2:02 left in the period.  Back in the paddock, consternation reigned.  You see, a number of teams had kept their cars in the garage to conserve tires... including Petrov's teammate, Grizzly Nick Heidfeld.  Felipe Massa also hadn't turned a lap yet.  When the circuit was reopened, pretty much everybody other than the McLarens and Seb Vettel, all of whom were secure in their positions, poured out for one desperation hot lap.  When it was all over, Grizzly Nick was on the outside looking in, unable to get his tires to heat up sufficiently.

Q3, of course, belonged to Vettel's Red Bull while his teammate fumed in the garage.  After Vettel's lap, Button and Hamilton turned one hot lap each, then parked to conserve tires for the race... almost like they were conceding they couldn't catch the young German and the race would be for second place.

That's concerning.  If the team with the best chance of catching Red Bull just gives up, what's to keep the season from turning into a complete rout?  Eesh.

Race tomorrow, and F1U!'ll be all over it.  See you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:20 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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It's nice to see STR and Force India that high on the rankings.

Sounds like this season will mainly be remembered because of the miserable tires -- and that is not a good thing. Think they'll switch back to Bridgestone again next year?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 16, 2011 01:33 PM (+rSRq)

2 No chance of that happening, Steven.  These tires are exactly what the FIA wanted, short-lived and difficult to work with.  No, seriously, they flat-out told Pirelli to make the tire compounds weaker than what Bridgestone or Michelin had been turning out the past few years.

Bridgestone pulled out of F1 for financial reasons.  They may come back sometime in the future, but it won't be until Pirelli gets tired of being criticized for doing what they had been told to do.  Considering that the media is screaming to high heaven, it may not be long.

I have no doubt that Pirelli could have made something similar to Bridgestone's tires, at least as far as wear goes... though maybe not as grippy or fast, since Bridgestone had been doing it for so long, and it's been 20 years since Pirelli had been in the sport.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 16, 2011 02:08 PM (W8Men)

3 Steven, pit stops are the FIA's key to more over taking & if it doesn't do that they'll return refueling to the mix for more "excitement". Wonderduck I agree that Pirelli is doing the task set for them, I bet though they can roll out longer lasting rubber in a matter of days if requested. 

Posted by: von Krag at April 16, 2011 04:40 PM (VGXAE)

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