May 09, 2009

F1 Quals: Spain 2009!

There's no question that F1's knockout qualification format is uniformly exciting, but this one was amazing.  Let's take a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:20.707 1:20.192 1:20.527
2 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:20.715 1:20.220 1:20.660
3 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:20.808 1:19.954 1:20.762
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:20.484 1:20.149 1:20.934
5 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:20.689 1:20.007 1:21.049
6 Timo Glockenspiel Toyota 1:20.877 1:20.107 1:21.247
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:21.189 1:20.420 1:21.254
8 HWMNBN Renault 1:21.186 1:20.509 1:21.392
9 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:20.745 1:20.256 1:22.558
10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:20.931 1:20.408 1:22.685
11 Kazoo Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:20.818 1:20.531
12 Nelson Piquet Jr
Renault 1:21.128 1:20.604
13 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.095 1:20.676
14 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.991 1:20.805
15 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:21.033 1:21.067
16 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:21.291

17 SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:21.300

18 Heikki Kovalaininnie McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.675

19 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:21.742

20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:22.204

For the second time in five races, Ferrari screwed up in Q1, their hubris pissing away one of their driver's race.  Kimi Raikkonen was sitting P5 with about five minutes left in Q1 when the team decided that he was a lock to advance.  Two minutes later he was P8.  Another minute, he was P12 and everybody watching knew what was going to happen.  When the session ended he was P16 and eliminated... unnecessarily.  As readers of The Pond know, I'm no fan of the Red Team, but this is just sad.  Farce India might be slow, but they're acting more professionally in a lot of ways than the greatest team in F1 history.

Q2 was the usual speedfest, with a twist.  The previous lap record for the Circuit de Catalunya was set in 2008, by Kimi Raikkonen, at a 1:21.670.  Every car in the session broke that record.

In Q3, it looked like Seb Vettel had the pole wrapped up, nearly a half-second faster than everybody else. Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa both turned in fast laps as the clock hit zero, but couldn't quite match his pace.

But Jensen Button was still on track, though only barely.  Any laps begun before the clock hits zero count, and the best teams try to get their drivers across the line for their final hotlap as late as possible.  Brawn almost held Button in the pits too long when he had stopped for his new tires.  When they released him, they realized that he only had 1:24 to get around.  Four seconds to spare, no problem.  About halfway through his out lap, however, Robert Kubica's BMW was catching up on him.  Button, thinking that Kubica was on a timed lap, slowed down to let him pass.  Kubica had actually finished his last hot lap and was heading to the pits on a fuel-burning run.  His pitcrew yelling in his ears to push hard, Button goosed his car and crossed the line for his final timed lap with less than a second to spare.  He then ripped off a stunning lap, snatching pole from Vettel and throwing a bucket of cold water over the Red Bull pitcrew.

With the fuel loads reported, it turns out that Button is about 5kg lighter than Vettel.  That's not good news for Button, but even worse for the top three is that the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, sitting in 4th, is 5kg heavier than Vettel... and he has KERS. 

Should be an exciting run down to the first turn for sure!  See you here for F1 Update! on Sunday!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:58 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 594 words, total size 12 kb.

1 One wonders if part of the reason that the KERS is only doing so-so are the limits placed on the system. Would a more-powerful KERS give more benefit for a smaller amount of added weight, once you've got some kind of KERS in there at all?

Posted by: Avatar at May 09, 2009 10:20 PM (vGfoR)

2 KERS is a gimmick. It's the FIA saying "See? We're being green!" And no, I can't see it having a favorable scaling curve.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 09, 2009 10:46 PM (+rSRq)

3 Av, all KERS systems are not equal.  The five teams that have run the device this season (Ferrari, McLaren, BMW, Williams and Renault) have all done it in different ways, and to this point it looks like McLaren's has been the best because it weighs less than the others, by about 15 pounds.  Doesn't sound like much, but F1 is a sport where weight savings are measured in grams.

(example: one of the teams redesigned their driver's firesuits in the off-season.  They were thrilled that they made them 5 grams lighter)

As it is, though,KERS is looking more and more like a failure, or at best "not a success."  It has its moments, yes, but all in all its disadvantages outweigh the benefits.

Unless they can come up with more efficient batteries or some other type of storage device for the power, I just can't see it being much better than it is.

Posted by: Wonderduck at May 10, 2009 12:18 AM (rvJXE)

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