September 03, 2016

F1 Quals: Italy 2016

Oh, hey, hi there, wow look at the time, will ya?  Almost like I lost track of the clock or something and next time I look up, whoa but it's late!  Quals was over ages ago, what were you doing, you crazy duck you!  Honestly, the answer is "nothing of consequence."  Sorry about that... not that we're missing anything, really... here's the provisional grid for the 2016 Grand Prix of Italy:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:21.854 1:21.498 1:21.135
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:22.497 1:21.809 1:21.613
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:23.077 1:22.275 1:21.972
4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:23.217 1:22.568 1:22.065
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams Mercedes 1:23.264 1:22.499 1:22.388
6 Smiley Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:23.158 1:22.638 1:22.389
7 Embryo Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:23.229 1:22.857 1:22.411
8 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:23.439 1:22.922 1:22.814
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes 1:23.259 1:22.951 1:22.836
10 Esteban! Haas Ferrari 1:23.386 1:22.856 1:23.184
11 Felipe Massa (Ret.) Williams Mercedes 1:23.489 1:22.967
12 Lettuce Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:23.421 1:23.092
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1:23.783 1:23.273
14 Pascal's Wager MRT Mercedes 1:23.760 1:23.315
15 Jenson Button McLaren Honda 1:23.666 1:23.399
16 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:23.661 1:23.496
17 Kid Kvyat Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:23.825

18 Felipe Not MassaNasr Sauber Ferrari 1:23.956

19 Sony Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:24.087

20 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:24.230

21 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:24.436

NC False Esteban! MRT Mercedes DNF

First, the important stuff.  Esteban! has brought Haas their first appearance in Q3, and by a goodly margin at the time to boot... he was 7th in Q2, for heaven's sake.  Of course he couldn't do anything in Q3 when it absolutely mattered, because that's when the BIG teams get serious, but it's still quite a nice sight, don'tchathink?  On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, Manor's False Esteban! had engine problems in third practice.  The team thought they had it fixed, but when he went out in Q1 to set a time, he made it all the way to the end of the front straight before it died again.  Disappointing, considering where his teammate ended up.

Now for less amusing news:  two drivers announced their retirements this week.  Felipe Massa is hanging up his helmet after the season.  He racked up 11 wins and 41 podiums for three teams in his 15-year career, the highlight (or lowlight, depending on how you look at it) was 2008, when he nearly won the Driver's Championship, only to have it snatched from him on the last turn of the last lap of the last race of the season.  The following year, he was very nearly killed when he took a damper spring to the helmet in Hungary.  He never regained his winning ways after that, but still proved to be a viable racer worthy of respect on the track.

The other driver to retire is Jenson Button.  Actually, he's only "stepping down from his race seat" for 2017 while continuing to work for McLaren.  He's not against driving again in 2018 however.  His 17-year career included 15 wins, 50 podiums and one Driver's Championship, for BrawnGP in 2009.  Interestingly, his was the last single championship we've had for quite some time... Mercedes now, Red Bull before that, then BrawnGP, McLaren, and Ferrari had one year runs, preceded by Renault.  Before them were the Red years of Ferrari and Schumacher.  I've always considered Button to be the type of driver that can get the most out of a good car and make it great, but can't outdrive a mediocre or bad car.  No shame in that, and there are very few drivers that have accomplished what he's done.  He'll retire as having participated in the second-most F1 races ever, behind only Rubens Barrichello.

Race is in the morning, see ya then!

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