July 23, 2011

F1 Quals: Germany 2011

Another gray day at the Nurb Jr. for the 2011 Grand Prix of Germany's Qualifying session.  No rain, but constant clouds and a strong breeze combined for a surprisingly cool day as well (53 degrees), making it difficult for the drivers to get heat into their tires.  But would that make a difference today?  Or would the threat of rain on race day play a part today?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:33.096 1:31.311 1:30.079
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.934 1:30.998 1:30.134
3 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:32.973 1:31.017 1:30.216
4 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:32.916 1:31.150 1:30.442
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:31.826 1:31.582 1:30.910
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.785 1:31.343 1:31.263
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.224 1:31.532 1:31.288
8 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:32.286 1:31.809 1:32.010
9 The Red Menace
Renault 1:33.187 1:31.985 1:32.187
10 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:32.603 1:32.180 1:32.482
11 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:32.505 1:32.215
12 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:32.651 1:32.560
13 Predicant Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:33.003 1:32.635
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:33.664 1:33.043
15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.295 1:33.176

Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:33.635 1:33.698
17 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:33.658 1:33.698
18 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.786

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Renault 1:35.599

20 Tim O'Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.400

21 Cowboy Karun Chandhok Lotus-Renault 1:36.422

22 Custard d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.641

23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:37.011

24 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1:37.036

Q1 107% Time

For the first time in 14 races, Red Bull's Seb Vettel will not be starting a race from the front row.  If you think about it, that's a pretty darn amazing stat.  And gosh, he must be miserable with ending up a pitiful third.

Two years ago, Vettel's teammate Mark Webber started this race from pole... and got his first ever F1 win.  Today, he said that his time was the best he could have possibly done, that there wasn't another hundredth left in the car.  McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised with the speed of his steed.  After Friday's practice sessions, he was moaning that there was no chance to fight for pole, the car was too slow, yadda yadda yadda.  Instead, he's less than a tenth of a second behind.  Not too shabby for a "crappy" chassis.

Meanwhile, Hamilton's teammate is complaining.  "Something isn't right," said Jenson Button.  "The pace isn't there.  It was there this morning, so I don't know where it has gone."  I have a suspicion as to where it is... I suspect that McLaren is hedging their bets for Sunday.  Y'see, there's a halfway decent chance of rain sometime during the Grand Prix and I'd almost put money on Button having a wet-weather setup.  If so and the team's gamble pays off, look for him to be on the podium, if not the top step.  If not?  Let's not think of that.  I'm thinking that perhaps Red Bull has Vettel set up the same way, with the difference in position coming down to relative car quality.

You may have noticed that next to Seb Buemi's name, the number "16" is missing.  That's not a typo.  After Quals were completed, the Toro Rosso driver's car failed the mandatory fuel test.  It violated regulation 19.8.3, meaning that the chemical makeup of the sample taken after Quals did not match the reference sample taken before the weekend.  As a result, Buemi has been excluded from Qualifying.  Since he officially didn't set a time, he could have been prevented from racing, but instead he'll be starting dead last.  In their defense, the team says that they had to replace Buemi's fuel pump system (which is why he didn't appear in P2), and that the new system must have had some residual chemicals (lubricants, perhaps) in it that contaminated the fuel inadvertently.  Oddly enough, I'm inclined to believe them, particularly since NKOTT's fuel passed muster.

Race at 11am Pond Central time... see you here for F1U! sometime afterwards!

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