In an incredibly close Qualifying in recent years that saw majority of the Teams go for ‘option’ set of Tyres in Q1 and Vettel being knocked out of Q2 despite being three hundredths of a second slower to Webber, It was Roberg and Mercedes that had the last laugh. Just like how majority of the people predicted, Mercedes with their F-Duct/Double DRS wing used the long straights to advantage as Roberg will start the race from Pole while his teammate Schumacher will start the race from P2 with Hamilton despite having Qualified P2 will drop down 5 places as a result of a penalty for an unscheduled Gearbox change
Kaumi Kobayashi did an outstanding job at the Sauber by qualifying fourth with Raikkonen, Button, Webber and the stars of Sepang Perez and Alonso taking the next slots, Grosjean who has so far surprised everyone with his Qualifying traits in the first couple of races will start the race from 10th after he elected to not to set a timed lap in Q3 thus saving him a set of soft tyres for the race tomorrow
Massa continued his small momentum in Qualifying as he was closer to his teammate but will line up on Row 6 of the Grid. Starting from Row 7, it was all about the battle of teammates rather then the battle of Teams as Williams claimed the Row 7 with Pastor Maldonado outpacing Bruno Senna yet again then it was the turn of Paul di Resta to comfortably outpace Nico Hulkenberg who is actually tipped to have better qualifying traits then the scot. Row 8 was about the story of Toro Rosso’s with Danniel Ricciardo squeezing into Q2 while his teammate found himself struggling at P18. The Caterham were close to five hundredths down on the Toro Rosso cars as they still struggle to find themself to break into the Q2. And it was turn of Heikki to build on his Qualifying magic with Vitaly Petrov still yet to create an impression in Qualifying Sessions. There was no problem for Timo Glock to comfortably outpace his inexperienced Teammate while at the back of the grid it was Narain Karthikeyan who ends up last at 24th on the Grid.
The Buzz After:
Few questions are still waiting to be answered, Lots of people have tipped Mercedes for Pole and it would have been surprising if neither of them were on the Podium. Nico’s one timed lap was so perfect that it took his teammate by surprise. But do the Mercedes have it in them to finish on a podium? Have they sorted out the Tyre degradation issues?
Jenson looked so pale throughout the weekend and it was always a story of Lewis and his quest for the Pole but with in such a close battle throughout the grid, Will Jenson’s soft take on his tyres be a crucial point in determining the outcome of the race? With the five place penalty on Lewis could not have come at a better time, He should be hoping that the peanalty will have no say in the final result
Sauber looked so different after an amazing second in Sepang. But this time it was the under pressure Kobayashi who stole the spotlight, With some video footage showing Perez’s uncharacteristic drive in Q3, he like Jenson would be hoping that his easiness on the tyres can play a factor in deciding the outcome of the race. But most of the Team’s will keep an eye on the Sauber as that factor of low tyre degradation can take them to a potential podium. Nevertheless Sauber have seem to have solved their major issue of qualifying.
The Question of Romian Grosjean not setting a timed lap in Q3 will have to be backed up by a proper strategy, Did he leave it too late or was it that extra set of softs for the race decided against his favour. Grosjean’s main priority would be to finish the race but if he does makes some mistakes in the front of the grid, Starting from the mid-field can be a worrying sign for his rivals. And Kimi’s lap was close to a perfect one. An Incident free race is what they should be hoping for.
The Split strategy at Red Bull could have been a decisive factor for the qualifying, Vettel for the first time since Brazil 2009 has failed to get into Q3. This again showed how well Webber has adjusted himself to RB8. The leading Red Bull of Mark Webber however starts only from P6 on the grid. One should wonder where this defending champions have all of a sudden gone wrong.
Ferrari have nothing to lose here, This is where they have predicted themselves to be on the starting grid. Alonso should be delighted with this, A mixed conditions in the race will do this Ferrari a world of good. Massa has been close to Alonso and this is what the Team would have hoped for but the obvious question would be, How well can Massa adapt himself in the race pace!
With Williams all along saying that they have been closer to the Top Teams in recent years, This weekend will add another feather to their cap, Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna despite being tagged in as ‘Pay Drivers’ are matching each other’s pace. They should be hoping to stick around and score some points in the race trim where they are generally strong at. A Top 8 to their drivers is looking highly likely on the cards
Force India have lost their momentum from the pre season, But the entire team is clearly banking on the upcoming updates and as they say they just have to stick around and stay as close to the front as possible, They just should hope to score a few points on the grid and not to lose out further on Sauber and Williams
Despite their claims this should be the maximum result for Toro Rosso as compared to their nearest rivals they have lost some ground this season and should be banking heavily on other’s strategies
One more qualifying gone and one more week where they failed to get into Q2. Tony Fernandes has stated that updates for each race is highly possible and the team should be hoping for the European races may be to see if they can catch their ambition of squeezing into Q2.
Marussia has distanced nicely to HRT, With close to a second separating the lead HRT and Timo Glock, they have created a separate niche for themselves. But the quest of catching Caterham in the race is looking highly unlikely
As compare to his teammate, Narain struggled all weekend with the car. Pedro de la Rosa’s experience is proving to be handy here but the battle of teammates in the race trim is what they can look at apart from achieving more mileage and potentially covering the race distance.
But the Story of the day would be that of Nico Rosberg and his first quest of pole, A perfect timed lap and regardless of what happens in the race, He has a reason to celebrate!