October 15, 2011

F1 Quals: Korea 2011

The usual three drivers were sitting on the interview stand, but all was not well.  One of them was in his normal good humor, but moods of the other two were substantially different.  But what caused this reaction?  Let's take a look at the provisional grid for the 2011 Grand Prix of Korea:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.525 1:36.526 1:35.820
2 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:39.093 1:37.285 1:36.042
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.929 1:37.302 1:36.126
4 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:39.071 1:37.292 1:36.468
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.670 1:37.313 1:36.831
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:38.393 1:37.352 1:36.980
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.426 1:37.892 1:37.754
8 The Red Menace
Renault 1:38.378 1:38.186 1:38.124
9 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:38.549 1:38.254 No time
10 Adrian F'n Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.789 1:38.219 No time
11 DJ Squire
STR-Ferrari 1:39.392 1:38.315
12 Slappy Schumacher Mercedes 1:38.502 1:38.354
13 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:39.352 1:38.508
14 Gandalf Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.464 1:38.775
15 Bruno Senna Renault 1:39.316 1:38.791
16 Behdin Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:39.436 1:39.189
17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.097 1:39.443
18 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:39.538

19 Heikki Kovalaineninnie Lotus-Renault 1:40.522

20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:41.101

21 Tim O'Glockenspiel Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.091

22 Custard d'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:43.483

23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:43.758

DNQ Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth No time

Q1 107% Time

The streak is over!  For the first time this season, someone other than a Red Bull driver will be on pole on Sunday.  Of course Seb Vettel was more subdued than his normal smiling self; one would expect that under the circumstances.  Jenson Button had his normal smile in place, looking full pleased with the grid slot he held.  You'd expect Lewis Hamilton to be nigh on vibrating in place from joy and excitement, but to be honest, he looked more like Felipe Massa had just run over his dog... twice.  It was so obvious that the english-language interviewer asked him about it.  Hamilton's reply was a flat, nearly monotone "No, I'm happy.  I'm really happy."  One gets the feeling that Lewis can't wait for the season to be over.

The two Force India drivers elected to conserve their tires in Q3.  While it was probably the correct move strategically (it's not like they really stood to gain more than one position, after all), it's still kind of sad.  Farther down the grid, HRT's Daniel Ricciardo had a suspected water pump problem and never took to the track in Q1.  He'll race only at the grace of the stewards, and it's anybodies guess whether they'll allow it. 

I find that I'm less happy about the Red Bull pole run coming to an end than I expected.  I've been wanting someone to do it all season, but now that it's over, I'm a little disappointed.  It would have been cool to see Red Bull get all the poles in a season, something that's never happened before (the closest: McLaren took 15 of 16 in 1988 and 1989, and Williams did the same in 1992 and 1993).

For all the drama about the streak coming to an end, all in all this wasn't the most exciting Quals session ever.  But that's okay too, because as both Hamilton and Vettel said, "It's what happens during the race that counts."  I have this feeling that neither of them will win, and that Button will take his second race in a row.  Some drivers are saying that the race will require five pit stops per car, which seems impossible.  I guess we'll find out on Sunday!  Stay tuned, this one might be a doozy.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:54 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 WOW!  Now that was a great session. I really liked watching Lewis, Seb, Mark & Jensen, car control at it's best. IMO after today's quals it shows just how much tire management rules a winning effort. Force India was on the top of the 2nd tier teams & it looks like a good scrap brewing there. Look for serious game face for everyone as the battle for constructors goes to the wire.

Posted by: von Krag at October 15, 2011 01:59 AM (o45Mg)

2 If Hamilton got the pole, why was he upset?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 15, 2011 09:09 AM (+rSRq)

3 Because this year has sucked so badly for him that he doesn't have the faintest idea how to react anymore?  He's a glum bastard?  Vicodin?  He listened to Nicole Scherzinger's latest CD? 

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 15, 2011 09:52 AM (o45Mg)

4 I can imagine that there was a certain feeling of, "Now that Vettel has sewed up the championship, NOW I get a pole? BFD!!!"

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 15, 2011 01:05 PM (+rSRq)

5 Yeah, there's always the question, was Vettel running at 100% or backing off a touch to make sure of the car? (Probably not, given the absolutely blistering final lap of quals from both him and Hamilton...)

It ought to be nice to see how this track races in the dry. There sure aren't a lot of places to pass...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at October 15, 2011 01:58 PM (GJQTS)

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