Fernando Alonso took the first pole for Ferrari in nearly two years time in what turned out to be a long tested and disrupted qualifying. Alonso’s battle for pole was with Webber who looked initially a firm contender in the final stages of Q3 to claim the top spot. Michael Schumacher who is riding high on confidence post Valencia sealed the third spot in a flying lap according to him was not on the edge or on the limit. Schumacher will share the second row with his ROC mate Vettel who initially to be struggling for grip in the wet monsoon conditions.
“First of all I want to dedicate this pole to Maria de Villota, who is going through a particularly difficult time. We are all feeling sad these days and our thoughts are with her and her family” - Fernando Alonso
“The cars are difficult to handle when it’s like that. In every session we went out the times were changing by up to five or six seconds per lap; there was a lot of standing water and aqua planning” - Mark Webber
Massa, Raikkonen, Maldonado, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Grosjean were other contenders for Q3 shootout and they will line up accordingly. Although Hulkenberg who looked impressive in other qualifying stints was particularly not impressive in his final stint and to be specific on his final flying lap for the Pole shootout. Hulkenberg was one of the few to suffer the grip issues on Intermediates with Hamilton being the other major candidate complaining about the lack of grip in final session of the Qualifying. The Hulk will also have a 5 place grid penalty for a unscheduled Gearbox change. Grosjean who had an impressive qualifying session was looking good until he missed a braking point which put an end to his qualifying stint at the closing stages of Q2.
“To our disappointment we discovered that our car was somewhat less competitive on the intermediate tyre” - Martin Whitmarsh
Di Resta who unlike his teammate seemed to struggle in the Wet conditions narrowly missed the Q3 cut but few tenths. Incidentally it was Alonso who edged past Di Resta in the dying moments of Q2. Alonso’s time was set to be under study as some questions has been raised as to whether Alonso sufficiently slowed down to the yellow flags that were shown due to Grosjean’s spin out. Alonso backed himself by stating that he didn’t set a green sector in that lap which indicated that he has sufficiently slowed down. The other big names to drop out of Q2 were that of Rosberg, Kobayashi and Perez who were all riding high prior to the disruption in Q2. With the Sauber pairs of Perez and Kobayashi were in Top 5 with Rosberg being third. The Sauber pair opted for Inters post the re-start when the rest of the drivers opted for Cinturato Wets which was an ideal choice considering how wet the conditions have been. The gamble of Inters proving to be a big one as it knocked off both the Saubers who until then had the great weekend and were looking for a Top 3. The other visitors of Q2 were the Toro Rosso drivers with Vergne also being affected by the wrong tyre choice while Ricciardo left it too late for the second flying lap which was botched by Grosjean’s yellow flag.
“I can usually drive a racing car in the wet, but obviously not today” - Jenson Button
“This afternoon, one had to be in the right place at the right time on the right tyres and, to succeed in that, you also needed a bit of luck” - Fernando Alonso
“I think I will be competitive tomorrow, especially as the car is going well on this type of track. From Canada onwards, the F2012 has improved a lot and the results are clear to see” - Massa
One of three Brits who was expected to do well and be at the front was the 2009 world champion. Button who was asked to do a rather uncharacteristic drive of him was the gamble that cost both him and the team badly. Button who was always one of the few drivers to go easy on tyres was asked to push and do a long stint in the early stages of Q1 along with other drivers in a bid to get a proper timed lap found himself wanted for paced after his initial attempts to get a proper timed lap was affected either by his driver errors or traffic which put an end to his tyres life. A late stop for a fresh tyres was not worth the gamble as the Inters that Button picked proved to be matchless for increased rain towards the end of Q1 and also a brief yellow flag in the final sector which came due to Glock’s spin at the start/finish straight. The other eliminations that happened in Q1 were of the two Caterham drivers of Petrov and Kovalainen followed by the sliding Timo Glock who happened to set his best time as he spun out. Glock was ahead of De la Rosa and Karthikeyan who were having a nice battle at HRT.
Disruptions, Mexican Waves and More:
A session like this was always a lottery and all the Team’s know it. There were some faces that showed desperation while some were relaxed, Some paid the gamble for going in at wrong choices while for some, The Luck has come their way. One of the drivers who can call himself Lucky is Alonso. Having left it too late to better his flying lap in Q2, He found himself the center of controversy as to whether he has sufficiently slowed down or not for Grosjean’s yellow flags. Had that attempt at the end of Q2 was botched, Alonso wouldn’t have made it past Q2.
Only one British driver was there in Top 10. Certainly for the Home of Motorsports, Better results then that were expected. Certainly if things can go awestruck in Wimbledon, The British drivers and their fans would have hoped for much better result then what really happened. Hamilton who looked strong in Cinturato wets in Q2 was looking to extend that momentum in Q3 but not it was not long before he and his team realized that Intermediate was an Ideal choice and upon the change of tyres, Hamilton lost all his grip and was battling for Row 4 and Row 5 of the starting grid which is not the place where people expect him to be after what happened to Button who lost his spot due to poor bad luck in Q1. Button who is known to gradually take it to the limit found himself to be in the strange place after he was asked to push. With an uncharacteristic driver, Button added another bad qualifying result to his name and with this plenty of people in our timeline on Twitter were debating as to whether Button is a Massa at McLaren. We really were hoping that fans realize this string of results that Button is facing is mainly due to his bad luck and nothing else. At least this result is certainly the one he received through lottery though.
In a weekend as this, All the Teams have the option of choosing their strategy and certainly some Teams were seen to be running with far higher downforce presumably running a wet weather setup and some were seen doing the opposite. Force India is one of the Teams admitting that they picked the wrong node and are hoping for dry conditions for the race. May be this is one of the reason, one of their drivers never really was in a stable shape as the Scot Di Resta was found wanting for grip all through the qualifying sessions. And in case of lottery, one has to blame the luck rather then anything. The other talking point was that of Sauber’s decisions which has been discussed and done for now but they certainly have emerged as one of the contenders for the race tomorrow. Given the amount of unpredictability that has been happening all through the season, One cannot rule out a Perez or a Kobayashi win.
“The car felt completely different on its second set of Inters - on the first set, I’d had a lot of front-shuddering and couldn’t get the tyres working, but on the second set that problem was much better” - Jenson Button
Speaking of Kobayashi, He is one of the four drivers at least so far to have a confirmed grid penalty going into the race tomorrow. The others include Hulkenberg, Pic and Vergne. The case of Vergne’s penalty being that of the one he received at Valencia following a avoidable collision which resulted him in getting a double grid penalty.
“Incredible conditions today. First of all, hats of to all the public who sat out for pretty much three hours in horrendous conditions” - Christian Horner
“Thanks to the fans who were here today. Even when there was heavy rain and we were not driving for a long time, they created a great atmosphere." - Nico Rosberg
“On a personal note, thank you to all of the fans for sticking with us today, and this was certainly the first time I've performed a Mexican wave in the middle of Q2. I've already had a few text messages from friends about my technique!" - Ross Brawn
And lastly the 92 minute disruption which ensured that this is one of the longest qualifying in recent years where the fans waited patiently and also getting drenched in the rain was well acknowledged by all the Team’s, Some of the Teams even participated in the Mexican wave. This weekend has been marred by many controversies which until now is due to the off track issues that is mainly due to torrential rain that resulted in traffic and fans being turned away due to parking issues. The organizers however stood firmly and are hoping to have fitting end to the weekend by hoping for a better race which in all likelihood are said to be interrupted by rain and might not be a dry race at all which one should thank the British weather for what ever the outcome of the race is.