July 24, 2010

F1 Quals: Germany 2010

The 1997 Grand Prix of Europe saw three drivers, Jacques Villeneuve, Slappy Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, set identical qualifying lap times of 1:21.072, the closest pole result in F1, and perhaps all of motorsport in general, history.  Why does this piece of trivia matter?

Let's look at the provisional grid for the Grand Prix of Germany:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:15.152 1:14.249 1:13.791
2 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:14.808 1:14.081 1:13.793
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:15.216 1:14.478 1:14.290
4 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:15.334 1:14.340 1:14.347
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.823 1:14.716 1:14.427
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.505 1:14.488 1:14.566
7 Robert Kubica Renault 1:15.736 1:14.835 1:15.079
8 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:16.398 1:14.698 1:15.109
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:16.178 1:15.018 1:15.179
10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:16.387 1:14.943 1:15.339
11 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:16.084 1:15.026
12 Gandalf Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:15.951 1:15.084
13 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:16.521 1:15.307
14 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:16.220 1:15.467
15 Pete Rose
BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:16.450 1:15.550
16 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:16.664 1:15.588
17 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:16.029 1:15.974
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:17.583

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:18.300

20 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:18.343

21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:18.592

22 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:18.952

23 Sakon Admiral Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:19.844

24 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth No time

Two milliseconds separate hometown hero Seb Vettel and Ferrari's HWMNBN.  Two-thousandth of a second.  My back-of-envelope calculations tell me that a car averaging 120mph per lap (note: I have no idea what the average lap speed is at Hockenheim) will move just over four inches in two milliseconds.

Four inches over a 2.842 mile long course.  That was the difference between pole position and second place, the second smallest gap in qualifying times in F1 history, behind only the aforementioned 1997 GP of Europe.  HWMNBN did not look particularly pleased sitting there during the post-Quals interview session, while Vettel had a smile broad enough that I was afraid the top of his head would fall off.

All the worries about a wet qualifying session ended up for naught, as there was even a bit of sunshine here and there on the track.  However, and this news brought a smile to my face, the weathermen are now predicting rain around the time the race is scheduled to begin.  Considering the times put up by everybody, it appears that the teams have gone with dry setups, and I think everybody was on the super-soft tires in Q3.  Certainly the top eight were.  I don't remember seeing Rosberg's tires, and Hulkenberg turned a total of one timed lap during Q3 and may not have even been on camera.

In other happenings during the Qualy session, Lucas di Grassi had a breakdown of some sort before he could take to the track.  Force India's Adrian Sutil had to change a gearbox before the session, so he'll be given a 5-spot grid penalty and will be starting 19th.  His teammate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, had a wicked crash in Q1 that brought out a red flag for eight minutes while debris was cleaned off the front straight.  Probably the surprise of the session, though, was the lousy performance of Team Mercedes.  Slappy didn't make it out of Q2 and his teammate Nico Rosberg just barely squeaked into Q3 (bumping Slappy out in the process).  Hockenheim was originally built as a test track for Mercedes, it's their home circuit, and the company always throws a big bash during race weekend.  Heck, the stadium section of the track is named "Mercedes" for heaven's sake.  A lot of red Teutonic faces today.

Race is tomorrow on Fox... and F1U! will be all over it.  See you then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:29 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 It makes me feel good to see Kubica showing up in the top 10 again and again. Given that he isn't driving for one of the top teams, and that his teammate hasn't been doing anything like as well, clearly it's driver skill that's making the difference. Maybe, hope hope hope, one of the top teams will decide to give him a chance with a decent car someday.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2010 01:01 PM (+rSRq)

2 I just looked. Kubica has been in the points 8/10 races, and that's pretty damned good.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2010 01:02 PM (+rSRq)

3 Webber and Petrov underdelivered. Webber said it was totally his fault and that he overcooked it by taking too much curb. Petrov didn't say anything interesting at all.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at July 24, 2010 04:10 PM (/ppBw)

4 It's interesting how in several of the teams, one driver consistently does better than the other even though they're driving identical cars. Sutil and Liuzzi, for example. And Kubica and Petrov. It shows that good drivers are important, and that the best ones probably are worth the money they're being paid.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at July 24, 2010 06:23 PM (+rSRq)

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