August 24, 2013

F1 Quals: Belgium 2013

The result is the same, but the gettin' there made it fun!  Here's the provisional grid for the 2013 Grand Prix of Belgium:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Shiv Hamilton Mercedes 2:00.368 1:49.067 2:01.012
2 Hannibal Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 2:01.863 1:48.646 2:01.200
3 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 2:01.597 1:48.641 2:01.325
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:01.099 1:48.552 2:02.251
5 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 2:02.338 1:48.925 2:02.332
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:01.301 1:48.641 2:03.075
7 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2:02.476 1:48.649 2:03.081
8 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 2:01.151 1:48.296 2:03.390
9 HWMNBN Ferrari 2:00.190 1:48.309 2:03.482
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2:01.462 1:49.020 2:04.059
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 2:01.712 1:49.088
12 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2:02.749 1:49.103
13 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 2:02.425 1:49.304
14 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 2:00.564 1:52.036
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 2:02.110 1:52.563
16 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 2:02.948 1:52.762
17 Sofer Maldonado Williams-Renault 2:03.072

18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 2:03.300

19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 2:03.317

20 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 2:03.432

21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 2:04.324

22 Charles ToothPic Caterham-Renault 2:07.384

Just as Q3 began, with nine cars on dry tires lined up at the Pit out light, it began to rain.  The nine cars immediately leaped onto the track and tried to get around and complete a hot lap before the track became too wet for dry tires.  They didn't succeed.  It took them until roughly halfway around the four-mile-long circuit to realize it, but there was no way a flying lap on slicks was going to work.  Quickly, the situation became one of pure survival as nine cars slipped, slid, fishtailed and twitched their way back to the pitlane.

Then there was Force India's Paul di Resta... the 10th car in Q3.  He and FI waited for everybody else to start rolling out of the pitlane before they came out... on Inters.  It was a gamble to be sure.  If the track had stayed dry-ish, everybody else would set flying laps in much better conditions than he'd ever see.  But if the rain kept coming, he'd be on Inters at the best possible time: that golden period where Inters were superior to slicks, but before the rain tires started to slow down a touch.

And that's exactly what happened.  For nine minutes and 55 seconds of the 10 minute session, Paul di Resta sat on provisional pole.  But the rain had stopped a couple of minutes earlier, and Nico Rosberg had managed somehow to pip di Resta just as time expired for the session.  Disappointing, but it would still be a front-row start for Force India, nothing to sneeze at for a midpack team.

Except both Red Bulls and Shiv Hamilton had begun hot laps just before time ran out on Q3... and the track was drier still for them.  Webber was in front of Vettel who was, in turn, in front of Hamilton on track.  First Webber beat Rosberg's time for pole, then Vettel beat Webber's time... and then Hamilton took pole from Vettel.  Suddenly, the great gamble taken by Force India and Paul di Resta, which looked like such a winner, was gone in an instant.  But for a brief shining moment, Force India controlled the Formula 1 world.

A big cheer to Marussia, who for the first time ever got both of their cars into Q2!  It was also the first time since 2010, when they were Virgin Racing, that one of their cars had made it out of the first round.

There's more rain predicted for Sunday's race, which means that anything could happen.  If you're gonna watch one race this year, make it this one.  It should be awesome... see ya then!

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