March 27, 2010

F1 Quals: Australia 2010!

Rain threatened in Q3, but held off just long enough to get the session completed in the dry.  So who's on pole?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid:

Pos  Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:24.774 1:24.096 1:23.919
2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:25.286 1:24.276 1:24.035
3 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:25.082 1:24.335 1:24.111
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.897 1:24.531 1:24.675
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.548 1:25.010 1:24.837
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes Benz GP Ltd 1:24.788 1:24.788 1:24.884
7 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes Benz GP Ltd 1:25.351 1:24.871 1:24.927
8 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:25.702 1:25.085 1:25.217
9 Robert Kubica Renault 1:25.588 1:25.122 1:25.372
10 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:25.504 1:25.046 1:26.036
11 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.046 1:25.184
12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:26.061 1:25.638
13 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:26.170 1:25.743
14 Pete Rose
BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.089 1:25.747
15 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:25.866 1:25.748
16 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.251 1:25.777
17 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:26.095 1:26.089
18 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:26.471

19 Heikki Kovalaininnie Lotus-Cosworth 1:28.797

20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:29.111

21 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:29.592

22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:30.185

23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:30.526

24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:30.613

The big surprise is Lewis Hamilton, knocked out in Q2.  He claims that he was balked on his final hot lap, and it is true that he came across two cars somewhere in sector 3.  However, both cars were off the racing line.  Further, the TV director had us in-car with Hamilton's McLaren at that portion of the lap; if he lifted off the gas or blipped the brakes, you sure couldn't tell from the engine note or the onscreen displays of RPM.  I think he's just looking for an excuse; his teammate was fourth in Q2, after all, and ended up fourth on the grid after Q3.  Just a bad performance for the 2008 World Champion, and as it turns out, for the team.  Reports are coming in as I write this that Hamilton may not have had enough fuel for a final hot lap, though he crossed the line with time remaining on the session clock.  If so, that'll rank up there with the two Ferrari blunders early in the '09 season, when in separate incidents both Massa and Raikkonen sat in their garages with what they thought were safe times, only to see the track come alive and the rest of the field sweep by them, dumping them out in Q1.

Another mild surprise was the relatively poor showing by the two Renaults.  Kubica, and to a lesser extent Petrov, had been quite quick during the three practice sessions.  Having Petrov knocked out after Q1, and Kubica needing a late push in Q3 to get past the Force India of Adrian Sutil, must have been a disappointment for the team.  Petrov had a slight moment on his final flying lap in Q1 that sent him just far enough off-track to ruin his chance to make it to the next session, but I'm sure there were still some rueful glances thrown about.

Of course, all six of the new cars went out in the first session, though the Lotuses (Lotii?) are making some small amount of progress out there.  Virgin, as we know, can't be a threat until they rebuild their car because of their too-small fuel tank.  But spare a moment for Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok.  The HRT HRT is just brutal.  While they did last the entire Q1 session, a minor miracle in and of itself, I don't think any driver could get more than a second out of that beast.  We did an onboard lap with, I think, Chandhok, and the steering inputs that he had to enter, just to make a turn, looked like he was trying to hack chunks off a slab of meat with the wheel.  Just constant, nigh frantic, back and forth sawing at the steering wheel.  Other teams would consider the HRT HRT to be in an emergency situation in every single turn.  Compare that to the smooth, almost negligible, steering required by Jenson Button and his McLaren, and it becomes obvious: the HRT HRT is just not ready, at all.

Blame the ban of in-season testing.  The one thing that the new teams need to improve is track time, and because of the rules, they can only get that at the races.  In baseball, it'd be like drafting a player out of high school, then only being allowed to play him if he's in the big leagues... no minor league playing time once the majors start their season.

Race coverage begins at 1230am Sunday morning... see you there!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:19 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 775 words, total size 15 kb.

1 I saw an article on the driver performance in F1 Magazine once that had several traction circles with acceleration tracks of various drivers superimposed on them. It was many years ago, I think back when we had slicks last time. Schumacher's track had a characteristic sawtooth pattern (note that in order t o stay inside the circle he has to modulate the braking input too, not just steering input). Writers speculated that it's the way he learned to explore the outer edge of the circle in carts, because he wanted to combine braking and turning, and the majority of drivers prefer only touch the circle's edge at right angles (only braking or only turning). Perhaps Chandook does the same, only clumsier. As for Button, well, we know that he is big on smooth.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at March 27, 2010 09:59 AM (/ppBw)

2 Think RBR will be a contender this year? Both drivers ended up in the points in Bahrain, and here they are 1-2 in quals in Oz.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 27, 2010 12:52 PM (+rSRq)

3 Steven, you bet I consider Red Bull to be a contender.  Remember, if it hadn't've been for two zero-points-scored races at the beginning of the season last year, Vettel would have been the driver's champion.  Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes all seem to be legit challengers this year. 

Pete, perhaps so.  Understand, I'm not disparaging Chandhok at all; I'm rubbishing his car.  To be honest, we've seen so little of the driver that we have no idea how good he really is.  Other than winning a couple of races in his GP2 history, and winning the 2008 "Best Driving Style" award for that GP2 Asia season, we just don't know enough about him to say "he's good in a bad car," "he's mediocre in a bad car," or "he's bad in a bad car." 

All we can say for sure is that the HRT HRT is a bad car.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 27, 2010 01:37 PM (mfPs/)

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