October 04, 2014

F1 Quals: Japan 2014

As Typhoon Phanfone turned into the equivalent of a Category 5 Hurricane, the F1 Circus took to the track to see who got to be the first behind the Safety Car for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Japan.  Here's a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:33.671 1:32.950 1:32.506
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33.611 1:32.982 1:32.703
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:34.301 1:33.443 1:33.128
4 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:34.483 1:33.551 1:33.527
5 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:34.497 1:33.675 1:33.740
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:35.593 1:34.466 1:34.075
7 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:34.930 1:34.229 1:34.242
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.150 1:34.648 1:34.317
9 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:35.517 1:34.784 1:34.432
10 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:34.984 1:34.771 1:34.548
11 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:35.155 1:34.984
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:35.439 1:35.089
13 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:35.210 1:35.092
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:35.000 1:35.099
15 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:35.736 1:35.364
16 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 1:35.308 1:35.681
17 Crashtor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:35.917

18 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:35.984

19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:36.813

20 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:36.943

21 Gandalf Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1:37.015

22 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:37.481

This has the potential to be just an ugly race.  For example, let's say it doesn't rain (unlikely though that may be)... polesitter Rosberg is a full second ahead of fourth place.  If it does rain, the Merc has proven to be fast that way as well.  However, no car is fast when the water level on-track is above the level of the front wing.

Much of the concern about the race up until recently hasn't been about the race itself, but about the next one.  The way F1 schedules work, teams usually box everything up and are on air-freight Monday headed to the next destination.  Problem is, the next destination is Sochi, home of the inaugural Grand Prix of the Soviets Russia next Sunday.  With 150mph winds and a storm track that's looking more and more like it'll pass close aboard, air travel is likely to be delayed until Tuesday optimistically.  Still, the FIA/Bernie Ecclestone has made the decision: both races will begin at their scheduled times.  As Will Buxton, the Legendary Announce Team's voice from the pit lane put it, however, "there's every chance there won't be a race tomorrow."

Which will give us plenty of time to hear about the real bombshell that dropped out of the blue around 4pm Pond Central time.  To whit, four-time world driver's champion Sebastian Vettel is leaving Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2014 season.  According to team boss Christian Horner, Vettel will be going to Scuderia Ferrari.  We're still waiting for confirmation from the Red Team about this, but Vettel confirmed it after Quals today, as well.  To take Vettel's place at Red Bull, Kid Kyvat will be promoted from Toro Rosso next year.

HWMNBN is almost certainly leaving Ferrari, and dear god, all signs point to him moving back to McLaren.  As you remember, Honda is coming back into F1 in 2015 as the engine manufacturer for McLaren, and they reportedly have zero interest in the current McLaren driver lineup; Button is almost certainly gone.  Of course, it's with McLaren that The Spaniard earned his "HWMNBN" monicker, after all.  The mind simply boggles at the unlikeliness  of that turn of events.

More to come as things shake out.  Race is at Midnight, Pond Central time, see ya there!  Bring a poncho and umbrella.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:23 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 581 words, total size 16 kb.

1 O_O wow.

How much money could you have made on a bet that this would happen? Vettel to Ferrari, Alonso to McLaren?

Posted by: Avatar at October 04, 2014 03:30 AM (ZeBdf)

2 I think it's strange that it was announced before this season ended.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 04, 2014 07:45 AM (+rSRq)

3 It's not unheard of; Hamilton announced his move to Mercedes on September 28,2012.

I want to point out one sentence from that post: Seb Vettel is rumored to have an out-clause in his contract with Red Bull that would allow him to leave in 2014... for Ferrari.

Looks like he used it.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 04, 2014 07:54 AM (BCjxQ)

4 Some people suggest that HWMNBN might actually sit out the 2015 season. I find that unlikely.

I didn't expect Kvyat to get called upon. The kid is still 19 or something.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at October 04, 2014 09:42 AM (CMqaG)

5 This map predicts 5-8 inches of rain in Nagoya.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 04, 2014 12:00 PM (+rSRq)

6 Pete, I think Alonso sitting out a year would be a terrible mistake.  He's the best driver out there, but he's 33 and not getting younger... losing a year of experience with these cars could be a disaster for him.

Steven, over and above what this'll do to the F1 community, we have to think about what it's going to do to "Everyday Japan."  Mudslides, flooding... anything going on at the volcano is just going to be turned to swamp.  At least it seems like it's no longer a Cat 5 typhoon.

I'm closely watching the F1 news sources about what's going on, and there's a lot of nothing so far... but then, it's about 5am over there as I type this.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 04, 2014 12:57 PM (BCjxQ)

7 I think Japan can handle typhoon-scale rain. It's not like it's a new experience, and all you have to do is look at all those artificial river valleys going through the towns to tell that it would take an epic disaster for the rivers to go out of their banks.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 04, 2014 03:51 PM (+rSRq)

8 If you ask UBIMET, the FIA's official weather company, the possibility exists for just that.  When they're saying"severe structural damage is expected on Monday, with possible widespread severe damage from the second case", you know something unpleasant is coming on fast.

Half points are given as long as the cars complete two laps; these laps can be behind the safety car.  If that happens, the starting grid should also be the finishing order; congrats, Nico Rosberg.  More importantly, those two laps also count as a full race for the promoter... no refunds!

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 04, 2014 06:52 PM (BCjxQ)

9 People are starting to wake up and make it to the track... it's not looking promising.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 04, 2014 07:28 PM (BCjxQ)

10 That picture is amazing.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 04, 2014 07:47 PM (+rSRq)

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