March 26, 2011

F1 Quals: Australia 2011

The gloves are off.  The field is now level.  We'll finally get to see the true pace of the cars on similar setups: low fuel and soft tires, no-holds barred.  Throw in the stresses of the knockout format and the "new" 107% rule, and we're about to discover who's fast and who's not.  It's 2011's first Quals, and it's for the Grand Prix of Australia.  Let's take a look at the provisional results:

Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:25.296 1:24.090 1:23.529
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.384 1:24.595 1:24.307
3 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:25.900 1:24.658 1:24.395
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.886 1:24.957 1:24.779
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:25.707 1:25.242 1:24.974
6 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:25.543 1:25.582 1:25.247
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:25.856 1:25.606 1:25.421
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:26.031 1:25.611 1:25.599
9 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.717 1:25.405 1:25.626
10 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:26.232 1:25.882 1:27.066
11 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:25.962 1:25.971
12 NKOTT STR-Ferrari 1:26.620 1:26.103
13 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:25.812 1:26.108
14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:27.222 1:26.739
15 Father Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:26.298 1:26.768
16 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:26.245 1:31.407
17 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:26.270No Time

18 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld Renault 1:27.239

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Renault 1:29.254

20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:29.342

21 Timo Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:29.858

22 Custard d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:30.822

23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:32.978

24 Narain Kittylitter HRT-Cosworth 1:34.293


Red Bull's Seb Vettel simply blew away the field in quals, never putting a foot wrong and taking a half-second off his pole time from last year.  This is even more amazing when you consider that the teams had been saying that the new Pirelli tires were trending around two seconds a lap slower than the 2010 Bridgestones.  It becomes flat-out astonishing when you realize that he had a KERS failure and couldn't use the power boost on his fastest lap!  He's nearly a full second faster than McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who will be second on the grid.  He's nearly 1.3 seconds ahead of Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button, who'll be starting fourth.  Australian Mark Webber, also of Red Bull, slotted into third.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa has never been fond of the track at Melbourne, and his discomfort showed quite clearly in Q3, managing only 8th while his teammate, HWMNBN, managed a stout 5th.  Indeed, as he rolled out for his first hot laps with two minutes or so left in the session, he immediately spun coming out of the pits, doing a lovely job of flatspotting all four tires in the process.  While others also had problems with grip, the diminutive Brazilian (try saying that three times fast) looked as if his racing line had been coated with teflon all day.

You'll note that Rubens Barrichello has a "No Time" next to his name in Q2.  Before he could get a timed lap in the books, he got a tire onto the grass, spun out and beached himself in a gravel trap.  Towards the end of the session, Adrian F'n Sutil had the Exciting Moment Of The Day™ when he hooked a tire off the pavement on the exit of the final turn.  His Force India immediately snapped hard right, sending him diving for the inside wall of the front straight.  Just as quickly, Sutil gathered the car up in a cloud of tire smoke and got it rotating the other way.  He wound up rotating a couple of times as the car progressed down the straight, but he kept it out of the walls.  As the L.A.T. mentioned, NASCAR announcer Darryl Waltrip calls that "crashing without hitting anything."  Indeed.

You'll also note that the times for the two HRTs of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Kittylitter are in a dark green, as opposed to red.  That means that they've run afoul of the 107% rule and are therefore to be excluded from the race.  The race stewards do have the option of giving one or both cars a dispensation, thereby allowing them to run in the race, but that would probably only happen if the other teams agreed... not likely.  It'd be a shame if they couldn't run, particularly considering their financial troubles and the immense effort the team put in to getting the cars ready to race, but the rules are on the books.

We'll find out soon enough.  The race is early Sunday morning, Pond time.  The F1Update! will be up... sometime on Sunday.  Ph.Duck is returning from two weeks in India sometime around 8am or so, and I'll be picking him up, maybe taking him to breakfast if he has the energy, that sort of thing.  So I'm not sure when I'll write the F1U! but it'll happen Sunday for sure.  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:15 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 790 words, total size 17 kb.

1

...Throw in the stresses of the knockout format...

What's that?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at March 26, 2011 04:50 PM (+rSRq)

2 Knockout Qualifying is a format where the slowest cars at the end of each session are "knocked out" of the chase for pole position.  In F1, the slowest seven are KO'd after each of the first and second sessions, and take their places on the grid.  The remaining ten go for pole.  If a good car has a problem, like Grizzly Nick Heidfeld did (his KERS unit died), he's likely to end up down at the bottom (18th, in Heidfeld's case... his teammate Vitaly Petrov finished up qualifying in 6th.).

A bobble, a small error at the wrong time can cost you any chance at winning due to the Knockout format.

Posted by: Wonderduck at March 26, 2011 05:46 PM (W8Men)

3 Ok... F1 in HD looks pretty good... (I should sleep instead of watching nearly live..)

Posted by: Kayle at March 27, 2011 12:15 AM (B6orG)

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