October 11, 2008

F1 Quals: JAPAN 2008!

If you're McLaren or Lewis Hamilton, that quals session went exactly how you'd want it to.  If you're Ferrari or Felipe Massa, you're beating your head against the steering wheel... and wondering if your Championship chances just went out the window.

Let's take a look at the provisional grid:
Pos Driver Team Q1Q2Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton                
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:18.160 1:17.733 1:18.644
3 Heikki Kovalaineninnie McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.220 1:17.360 1:18.821
4 HWMNBN Renault 1:18.290 1:17.871 1:18.852
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:18.110 1:17.287 1:18.874
6 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:18.684 1:17.931 1:18.979
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:18.501 1:17.541 1:19.026
8 Timo Glock Toyota 1:17.945 1:17.670 1:19.118
9 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 1:18.559 1:17.714 1:19.638
10 SeaBass STR-Ferrari 1:18.593 1:18.102 1:20.167
11 David Coulthard's Chin
Red Bull-Renault 1:18.303 1:18.187
12 Nelson Piquet Jr
Renault 1:18.300 1:18.274
13 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:18.372 1:18.354
14 Kazoo Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:18.640 1:18.594
15 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:18.740 1:18.672
16 Grizzly Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:18.835

17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:18.882

18 Jenson Button Honda 1:19.100

19 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:19.163

20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:19.910

Hamilton has Pole Position, and Ferrari's drivers are reversed from the way the team would have wanted them.  Throw in Heikki and HWMNBN as a buffer between Hamilton and Massa, and suddenly this is looking like a desperate situation for the Brazillian driver's championship hopes.  Essentially, it's the perfect situation for Lewis.

Now, it might be that Massa is heavy on fuel, but I don't think so.  He was just too fast earlier... it feels like he was just beaten.  Now, the Renault of HWMNBN is probably a little light on gas, but Heikki almost surely isn't. 

The Toyotas certainly put on a good show, with Der Glockenspiel being right up at the top of the charts until Q3.  Who knows if it's real speed, or low-fuel speed?  Robert Kubica's faint chances for a championship are still alive, but on life-support.  He has to win out and hope that the guys ahead of him both break down... not likely.

Notable is the fact that both Toro Rossos made it to Q3.  They've really come alive; seems like they've finally gotten their car dialed in.  Could we be seeing the birth of a new member of the Big Teams?  Or will the Minardi-child slump back next year? 

Of course, Honda blew chunks.  Force India is just bad, but that's what you expect from a new startup like them (yes, yes, I know: "Jordan/Midland/Spyker", but still...).  But what in the world is Grizzly Nick doing down there, unable to get out of Q1?  Very odd.

Well, we'll see what happens tomorrow at the race.  Looks like the weather will be good, if a little cool.  That'll favor the McLarens a touch, as the Ferrari uses their tires better when the track is warmer.

We've already had seven different winning drivers for five different teams.  Since I started writing about F1 (with e-mails to Official First Reader Mallory, in 2004), there's never been so many winning drivers and teams in a season.  Could you imagine Toyota winning finally?  Of all the teams that haven't won, they're the most likely to do so.  Mind you, that's not likely, but as we saw in Singapore, luck plays a part.  See you Sunday morning!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:52 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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Yes, it is a different F1 than when F1 UPDATES debuted in 2004, and they have always been a delight to read!  :-) 

Can't wait for the race tonight! 



Posted by: Mallory at October 11, 2008 10:21 AM (WJ2qy)


It's neat to see the Toro-Rosso's qualify so high. I rather hoped for more from Kubica but 6th ain't bad.

Hamilton certainly has nothing to complain about.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 11, 2008 03:04 PM (+rSRq)

3 Good to see Kimi finally put a lap together, too bad he is only there to support Massa and poor Felipe is down in row 3.  Still amazes me how close the times are, a little more then half a second separating TQ from 5th place!  I, like others, thought Toyotas were running on fumes as a publicity stunt on their home track, but it genuinely seems like they have a solid setup and are fast.  The green striped Bridgestones are dumb and makes them harder to identify on television. I hope to see a great battle between LH and Kimi but I'm sure Ferrari fans are just hoping they will take each other out. </conspiracy>.  

Posted by: RobertV at October 11, 2008 03:22 PM (dVgY5)

4 Theissen said that it was a mistake to send both drivers out on the harder tire for the second time, because everyone else switched to the soft tire midway into Q1. As the result, Kubica just barely made it by a tenth, Heidfield didn't. Essentially they tried to play games with tires, but were too clever and it backfired.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at October 11, 2008 10:21 PM (/ppBw)

5 I just sneaked a peak at the outcome, and I can understand why the delay in your report. You must be seething.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 12, 2008 12:03 PM (+rSRq)

6 It's coming... I was too tired to do it after the race, and I had laundry/groceries/etc to deal with this morning.

Seething?  No, not really... resigned, more than anything.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 12, 2008 12:05 PM (AW3EJ)

7 Maybe one has to have some character flaws to win, or at least it helps. Remember Shumacher riding over fans in his minivan? Stalling in Monaco?

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at October 12, 2008 01:33 PM (/ppBw)

8 F1U! didn't call Schumacher "Parky" and "Slappy" for nothin', Pete.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 12, 2008 03:17 PM (AW3EJ)

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