November 01, 2014

F1 Quals: United States 2014

A surprisingly chilly day greeted the F1 cowpokes as they guided their steeds onto Austin, Texas' Circuit of the Americas in preparation for Sunday's US Grand Prix.  Which of 'em would be named sheriff, and which would be dangling from the end of a rope?  Let's take ourselves a look at the provisional grid:

Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.303 1:36.290 1:36.067
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37.196 1:37.287 1:36.443
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:38.249 1:37.499 1:36.906
4 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:37.877 1:37.347 1:37.205
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.814 1:37.873 1:37.244
6 HWMNBN Ferrari 1:38.349 1:38.010 1:37.610
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.574 1:38.024 1:37.655
8 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.557 1:38.047 1:37.706
9 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:38.669 1:38.263 1:37.804
10 Adrian F'n Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.855 1:38.378 1:38.810
11 Crashtor Maldozer Lotus-Renault 1:38.608 1:38.467
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:39.200 1:38.554
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:38.931 1:38.598
14 Kid Kvyat STR-Renault 1:38.936 1:38.699
15 Jules Vergne STR-Renault 1:39.250

16 Esteban! Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.555

17 4Time Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:39.621

18 Lettuce Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:39.679

If you ask the Legendary Announce Team, it's something of a miracle that Rosberg and Hamilton made it to Q3, let alone lock out the first row.  Both Merc drivers have been dealing with technical difficulties all weekend, the type that make engineers pull out their hair, mechanics lose sleep rebuilding entire cars to find a single mistinned lead, and drivers throw hissyfits while spilling their energy drinks.  Rosberg seemed to have a side-to-side brake balance problem, something that you almost never hear of in F1, while Hamilton was having shifter difficulties.  Both of these "miraculously" cleared up before Quals, which saw Hamilton make a teeny bobble in Q3 to give his teammate pole for Sunday's race.

Last year, 4Time Vettel won this race, with Lettuce Grosjean standing next to him on the podium.  Quite the difference a year can make.  Grosjean just has a miserable pile of scrap for a car, and Vettel, knowing that he has to start from the pitlane for using a completely new powerplant (his seventh, one beyond the limit), barely even tried.  The talk was, in fact, that he wouldn't even appear in Quals, until someone pointed out that put his ability to race in the hands of the Stewards (for not setting a time within 107% of the fastest time in Q1), officials who were already in a foul mood because of the loss of two teams.

Hail Adrian F'n Sutil for finally giving Sauber their first appearance in Q3 this season... and if that isn't a terrible proclamation, I don't know what is.   

Actually, I do know what is.  There's at least a chance that there will only be 12 cars taking the lights tomorrow.  To protest the incredible imbalance between the financial situations of the big teams and the smaller ones, Lotus, Sauber and Force India have been linked to a boycott of the race.  All three teams have been reported to be suffering financial difficulties, and to be fair, F1 is completely cocked up when it comes to the money situation.  For example, the 2013 payout was something like $900 million... and Ferrari got $100 million right off the top simply because they're Ferrari, over and above their prize winnings.  That right there is more than the annual budgets of either of the two teams missing this week, Marussia and Caterham.  Something does have to be done about this imbalance, and this threat is a good way to draw attention to the problem.  The three teams can absolutely kill any chance F1 has to get back into the US long-term (remember the 2005 debacle?), and what do they care?  As is, none of them will be around in two years, driven out by the manufacturers.

Someone from Lotus tweeted that they'll be racing, but team boss Gerard Lopez was quite angry at yesterday's team principal press conference, which makes for quite eye-opening reading.  Will they go through with the boycott?  Probably not, but we won't really know until the teams form up on the grid for the lights.

Tomorrow could prove to be quite interesting!  See ya then.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:54 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 702 words, total size 14 kb.

1 That picture really shows the Turn 1 hill!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 01, 2014 03:47 PM (+rSRq)

2 Does griping about Ferrari ever work?  Or is Ferrari excused from whatever deal comes up to keep one or more teams marginally competitive?

Or, considering I really don't know what I'm talking about, am I barking up the wrong tree?

Posted by: Ben at November 02, 2014 08:01 AM (DRaH+)

3 I've never had any success with my complaints, Ben.  I dunno, maybe F1 doesn't listen to me!

Ferrari is the keystone team for F1; in some quarters it's thought that if Ferrari left Formula 1, the league would shut down overnight.  In others, they're considered a major part of the problem.

You can guess which side I come down on.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 02, 2014 12:26 PM (jGQR+)

4 I didn't mean you specifically...just, based on what you've written in the past, apparently Ferrari has *no* incentive to share.  There's no F1 without Ferrari, so Ferrari mostly gets to do what they want so long as the advertising revenue flows.  So, is there a Ferrari without F1?  Is it even feasible for the other teams to tell Ferrari to take a hike or get in line?

Posted by: Ben at November 02, 2014 01:47 PM (DRaH+)

5 Hey, both can be true at once. Ferrari gets special treatment precisely because it makes it tough for the entire slate of teams to act collectively against Formula One Management, which is important, because FOM takes about half the money! It would be easy for the teams to build another series at most of the same tracks as F1, but with every team making more money... but Ferrari isn't likely to jump into a situation where they get "just" equitable treatment, their rivals aren't going to sign the Ferrari Bonus over to them, and it would be very hard to get "everyone but Ferrari" on board.

Posted by: Avatar at November 02, 2014 02:03 PM (ZeBdf)

6 I am of the opinion that Ferrari needs F1 more than the opposite is true, or at least I was until recently.

NOW, if Ferrari leaves, what with the rot setting into the smaller teams and even the bigger teams having problems getting sponsors, the whole thing might topple over and fall into the swamp.

I'm not convinced that would be a bad thing.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 02, 2014 08:30 PM (jGQR+)

7 Yeah, honestly, I fully expect enough teams to fall out at some point that Formula One has a completely disrupted season.

I don't think that three cars per team is necessarily BAD - I mean, Rosberg and Hamilton have had some good racing this year, would it have been worse if it was Rosberg and Hamilton and, say, Hulkenburg? I don't know that you can do both that and "oh btw Red Bull has two different teams" though - at that point rather too much of the sport is being run as marketing for an energy drink company, and that's an inherently unstable situation, no?

Posted by: Avatar at November 03, 2014 01:31 AM (ZeBdf)

Hide Comments | Add Comment

Comments are disabled.
39kb generated in CPU 0.0138, elapsed 0.3787 seconds.
47 queries taking 0.3703 seconds, 240 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.