Two Red Bull’s at the front of the grid followed by two McLaren’s and then followed by two Ferrari’s. It’s a picture perfect starting grid for the race tomorrow but at the end of the day, we can say that Vettel still ruled the charts but only by just.
F1 Universe who were closely following the practice sessions especially those two Friday Practice sessions would have assumed that it would be an easy show for Vettel and Red Bull but things have dramatically improved on Saturday with the McLaren’s and Ferrari’s still willing to play spoilsport. It was important for the Italian team to deliver an improved performance on Saturday and they managed to do it but for Alonso, two British drivers in the British Team and a Australian in the Austrian team are standing in his way as he bids to challenge Vettel.
Qualifying was so intense that anxious faces were seen across the paddock all through the qualifying and even Vettel managed to make a mistake in his attempts for the pole position. Q1 was one of the most dramatic events in recent history with plenty of drivers taking the scenic route across the track and into the gravel. A blink of the eye covered the Top 9 drivers in Q1 and the pressure was on each driver to deliver their absolute best. Although the track was wide, there were few complaints by few drivers who got themselves into the 'traffic'. It wasn’t certain until the dying moments of each session as to who would get relegated and who wouldn’t and some drivers were really unfortunate to miss the cut. It was Jean-Eric Vergne who faced the music initially and it wasn’t certain for a long time as to whether he would be relegated or not, He was joined by Vitaly Petrov, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Pedro de la Rosa, Narain Karthikeyan and Charles Pic. Heikki found himself in the gravel after he pushed too hard in the final moments of Q1. The HRT surprisingly found themselves squeezed between the Marussia’s. Both Narain and Pedro were too close and yet again it was Pedro who outshined his Indian teammate.
Almost all the drivers went on the optional tyres straightaway in Q2. For much of the session, the focus was on Maldonado who topped the Q1 and was looking as a darkhorse for the midfield teams. Nico Hulkenberg who was one of the few drivers to set an laptime early in the session and looked strong as compared to his teammate who was struggling to get a proper laptime. But in the end, both the Force India’s didn’t seem to have the pace to squeeze into the Top 10 shootout which was very disappointing for the home crowd. Nico Hulkenberg will line up on Row 6 of the grid while Paul di Resta will start the race from 16th. Romain Grosjean who was pushing too hard didn’t seem to get a mistake free lap which didn’t surprise many, there were many occasions where he wandered off the racing line in search of more pace and he narrowly missed the the cut for Q3. Bruno Senna was looking close to making it into Q3 as well but in the end he wasn’t close to the pace of his teammate and so was Schumacher who lines up in P14. Ricciardo and Kobayashi were the other casualties of Q2.
The Top 10 shootout was tipped to be an exciting affair and the session never disappointed the hopes of the people who were anticipating a clash between the two Red Bull’s. For some part of the session, it looked like Mark Webber was the man for Pole. He seem to have the got the pace and nailed a lap perfectly but was only beaten by his teammate. Both Vettel and Webber however backed off from their final flying laps due to various reasons. Webber had missed the racing line in his final attempt and it would have been very interesting if he took the pole position. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button failed to beat the Red Bull drivers but were close enough in terms of pace. The battle between these two teams would be interesting for the race as Alonso and Massa were never far off from the pacesetters as well. Massa in his final lap was ahead of Vettel in sector 1 but failed to capitalize on his improved time as he lost a huge chunk of time of sector 2 and Massa had to finally settle for P6 on the grid. Raikkonen, Perez, Maldonado and Rosberg were behind Massa as Rosberg yet again failed to set a lap-time in Q3. Although Ferrari and McLaren does have better race pace then the Red Bull’s, Vettel would be the ideal man to win the Grand Prix on Sunday.
01. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.283
02. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.327
03. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.544
04. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.659
05. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m25.773
06. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m25.857
07. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m26.236
08. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.360
09. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m26.713
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes no time
11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m26.136
12. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercede 1m26.241
13. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m26.331
14. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m26.574
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.777
16. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercede 1m26.989
17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m27.219
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m27.525
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m28.756
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m29.500
21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m29.613
22. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m30.592
23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m30.593
24. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.662