June 07, 2008

F1 Quals: Montreal 2008!

Nailbiter time!  The rain never came, though the skies were gray and there was a distinct crosswind that was causing quite the problems for some drivers.  On top of all that, the track, which had been patched and resurfaced in some places during the offseason, was being ripped up by the cars and their incredible levels of grip.  This, combined with the slightly higher-than-expected tire wear, made it seem like it HAD been raining in a few of the turns, simply because of all the rubber "marbles" and loose tiny chunks of asphalt lying around.  The track marshals actually had to sweep the track clean between the Qual sessions.

Of course, they won't be able to do that during the race.  If it DOES rain on top of all that, we'll be lucky to have ANY car take the checkers.

Before we can go racing, though, we have to have qualifying.  Lewis Hamilton's McLaren is sitting on pole, after an astounding lap at the final possible time.  He had been at the top of the charts all throughout Q3, until the BMW of Robert Kubica, late taking to the track for one reason or another, set out and knocked him off pole with a time of 1:18.498.  When Raikkonen and Massa couldn't answer, and Kovalaninninnie couldn't get his McLaren to cooperate, it looked like we'd have another case of "Pole on pole action".  Then Hamilton, who looked like he had done everything he could with his McLaren, set sail on his last run.  And what a run it was!  It was almost like he had traction control running or something, because there were no bobbles, not a tire put wrong, great acceleration out of the hairpin (something Massa's Ferrari had problems with all day, with wheel-spin and a twitchy-looking car under braking), and hitting every corner perfectly.  He wound up his lap over six-tenths of a second better than Kubica, a lifetime in F1 terms.

Raikkonen's Ferrari could do no better than third, right alongside the surprising performance of HWMNBN's Renault.  Nico Rosberg's Williams looked quite quick in getting 5th, ahead of the struggling Massa.  The second McLaren of Heikki Kovaleininninnie was a disappointing seventh.  Whether it was the car or the driver has yet to be determined.  Grizzly Nick Heidfeld is probably wondering just what he's doing wrong, putting his BMW eighth on the grid.  A HUGE disappointment, considering where his teammate is.  The biggest surprise of the day, however, has to be Rubens Barrichello in the Honda.  Ninth may not sound like much, but for Honda F1 this year, it's almost as good as a win, and it's the first time Rubens has made it to Q3 all season.  Mark Webber is 10th, with no time set in Q3; like his teammate, David Coulthard's Chin, in Monaco, Webber spun and damaged his car at the end of Q2 and was unable to take to the track.

The rest of the provisional grid:

Driver Team Q1
1 Lewis Hamilton                

2 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:17.471
1:17.679 1:18.498
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.301
1:17.364 1:18.735
4 HWMNBN Renault 1:17.415
1:17.488 1:18.746
5 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:17.991
1:17.891 1:18.844
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:17.231
1:17.353 1:19.048
7 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:17.287
1:17.684 1:19.089
8 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:18.082
1:17.781 1:19.633
9 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:18.256
1:18.020 1:20.848
10 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:17.582
1:17.523 no time
11 Timo Glock Toyota 1:18.321
12 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:17.638
13 David Coulthard's Chin
Red Bull-Renault 1:18.168
14 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:18.039
15 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 1:18.505
16 SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:18.916

17 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:19.108

18 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:19.165

19 Jenson Button Honda 1:23.565

20 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari no time

Sebastian Vettel comprehensively destroyed his Toro Rosso in the Saturday practice with a wreck that had tires flying everywhere.  He did so much damage, as a matter of fact, that the team couldn't even salvage the monocoque, and are currently building a new car around the spare cockpit they are allowed to bring to the track.  This is not a huge thing, they shouldn't have any problem with that, but it does take time.  As a result, he could not take to the track for Quals and will be forced to start from the pit lane.  Jenson Button, 19th on the grid, suffered a gearbox problem and withdrew to the pits with five minutes left in Q1. 

Rain is still in the forecast, the track is breaking up, the top of the grid looks like someone was drawing names out of a hat... I'd say there's a good chance of a heckuva race tomorrow.  If it's anything like the Grand Prix of Canada was last year, it'll be a doozy!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:48 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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It's really nice to see other teams really putting up a challenge to McLaren and Ferrari. Having those four cars always at top of the qual every race last year was really dull.

Man, track conditions really must have deteriorated considering how everyone's times got slower later in the day. Usually you'd expect them to get faster, as the drivers got more familiar with the course.

I wonder what Hamilton's secret was, given the way he managed to do half a second better than everyone else on all three rounds. I'm still rooting for Kubica, though. I wanna see him win one.

Come on, rain!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 07, 2008 03:33 PM (+rSRq)

2 You think Hamilton was running with a light fuel load again? Think he'll do another 3-pit race tomorrow? That would explain a lot.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 07, 2008 03:38 PM (+rSRq)

3 Steven, the biggest reason that the times got slower from Q2 to Q3 is the fuel load.  Q2 usually has the fastest times as everybody is doing everything they can to get to Q3... that includes carrying just enough fuel to do an out lap, a hot lap, and their cool-down lap.  Call it fuel for ten miles.

During Q3, though, the cars have to have their race fuel on-board, PLUS whatever they need to use in Q3.  Call it enough fuel for 30 laps (race fuel + qual fuel), or maybe 90 miles more or less.

That extra weight is a decent percentage of the car's overall weight... and therefore, they're slower.  The track condition did have something to do with it as well, no question about it.

As to how Hamilton ripped off that pole lap?  It's quite possible that he's running less gas than Kubica, perhaps hoping for an early safety car. 

Ferrari might be gambling on wet weather for the race.  They were six or eight km/hour slower than the McLarens thru the speed traps, and I think they've got more wing on, thinking it'll rain.  If that happens, they'll run away with it.  If not... well, you see the results from Massa.

If anybody is running low fuel, it's HWMNBN and Rosberg.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 07, 2008 03:55 PM (AW3EJ)


As much as I like to see Hamilton get the pole position, I was really hoping Kubica could hold onto it. 



Posted by: Mallory at June 07, 2008 04:58 PM (WJ2qy)

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