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Rosberg complete hat-trick on streets of Monaco

26 May

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Monaco 13.

Winners:

  • Nico Rosberg – Q1 – Three poles in a row for Rosberg. So far he’s dominated this weekend, going fastest in all of the practice sessions as well as qualifying, if it weren’t for his car’s poor race performances he’d look by far the favourite to win the race.
  • Giedo van der Garde – Q15 – After a slow start for VDG he really put in a strong performance yesterday to make it through to Q2. This is Caterham’s best ever qualifying position (not including grid penalties for other drivers), of course, if this is a high attrition race he could potentially pick up Caterham’s first ever points.
  • Sergio Perez – Q7 – Two races in a row now he’s out-qualified his more experienced team mate. Perez has struggled this season in a dreadful McLaren but he now appears to have found his form and is taking the inter-team battle to Button.

Losers:

  • Felipe Massa – Q22 – Massa suffered a huge crash in FP3 which meant that he couldn’t take part in qualifying, and with grid position so vital in Monaco this could cost him. Despite this it could also have it’s advantages, he should be able to overtake the slower drivers early on and will miss any turn 1 crashes that could occur. Also Massa will have extra tyres available which could potentially help him receive points.
  • Jules Bianchi – Q21 – Bianchi suffered a mechanical failure on his first lap of qualifying meaning that he, along with Massa props up the grid. But since Bianchi is with one of the newer teams he’s easily within reach of beating team mate and Caterhams.
  • Pastor Maldonado – Q16 – Monaco specialist, fastest in Q1 and then slowest in Q2, it was a tale of ups and downs for Pastor in qualifying. After setting the fastest time in Q1 he was ill advised in Q2 and couldn’t make the most of the drying conditions. Despite that don’t rule him out for points, this is the track that he’s best at and anything can happen in Monaco.

Prediction:

It will all come down to how the tyres are, if they are degrading quickly then Mercedes can kiss their chances of victory goodbye and I’d expect a Red Bull 1-2, with Raikkonen completing the podium. But if the tyres last a long time then Mercedes are the likely victors, if this is the case I’d predict Rosberg 1st, Vettel 2nd, and Webber 3rd.

Yesterday we saw rain, and if this occurs again then it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win. If it does rain then my top 3 would be Webber 1st, Vettel 2nd and Alonso 3rd.

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It’s magic for Mercedes as Hamilton is on pole

13 Apr

3 winners and losers of qualifying, China 13.

Winners:

Lewis Hamilton 10/10 Q1 – Before this season many said that Hamilton would struggle with Mercedes and how wrong we’ve all be proved. Hamilton set blistering pace throughout all of qualifying going fastest in all 3 sessions and ultimately going fastest in Q3 by 0.3 seconds.

Marussia 9/10 Q19 and Q20 – Marussia have created a fantastic car for this season and with Bianchi at the wheel should make it into Q2 by the end of the season and may pick up points. Today both cars out-qualified the two Caterhams showing just how far Marussia have come since last season.

Daniel Ricciardo 9/10 Q7 – This is Daniel’s first time into Q3 since Bahrain last year and over the last 3 races has improved his qualifying position every time, showing just how much form he’s on at the moment. Despite this he does have two problems, first he hasn’t finished a race so far this season and second last time he started in the top 10 he had a dreadful start. Lets hope it works this time.

Losers:

Mark Webber 6/10 Q14 – Webber was unlucky today suffering a fuel pressure problem which left him stuck on an exit road watching others beat his time. Webber will need a good start tomorrow (a rarity for Webber) if he’s to finish in the good points. Since writing this Webber has been relegated to the back of the grid for failing to provide a 1l fuel sample leaving his chances of a good finish almost impossible.

Esteban Gutierrez 5/10 Q18 – Whilst team mate Hulkenburg made it to Q3 Gutierrez was out in Q1. Esteban hasn’t started this season as well as I expected him to, but since his race pace is better than his 1 lap pace he could prove to be a worthy driver by the end of the season.

Sebastian Vettel 7/10 Q9 – Red Bull haven’t had the one lap pace to challenge Mercedes/Lotus/Ferrari to the pole all weekend so they have opted for a different strategy where they start on the harder tyre which will be the preferred tyre in tomorrow’s race, this explains why he’s so far back, but with Button on the same strategy and 1 place ahead on the grid he could have his work cut out if he wants to win tomorrow.

Prediction:

I envisage the top 6 will all have to pit early on (within the first 10 laps) tomorrow so the key question is wether they’ll be able to pull far enough ahead. They will come out behind Vettel and JB, but if the top 6 can get themselves on Button and Vettel’s tails they should win easily. Of the top 6 I’d say it’s a contest between Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen for first place with Massa, Rosberg and Grosjean looking to pick up a podium. So I’ll go out on a limb and say it will finish: 1 Hamilton 2 Alonso 3 Raikkonen.

Vettel on pole but only after near miss Q1 exit

23 Mar

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Malaysia 2013

Winners:

Sebastian Vettel: Q1 – 2 races this season and 2 pole positions as Vettel cruised to pole position by a whole 0.9 seconds, but it wasn’t as simple as it appears with Vettel almost leaving qualifying in Q1 after the strategy  taken by Red Bull went wrong and it was only through doing a second timed lap that he made it through to Q2 even so it left the Red Bull management shaken.

Felipe Massa: Q2 – This time last year Massa was a laughing stock and yet here he is now starting on the front row ahead of Alonso and having out qualified him for the 4th time in a row, can we now say the pre 2009 Massa is back with a vengeance and if so what’s to stop him making amends for the title miss in 2008, only time will tell.

McLaren: Q8 and Q10 – There’s definitely still a long way to go for McLaren but the team must see it as a step in the right direction to have 2 drivers into Q3 even if it was obvious that they would never take pole. With conditions set to be wet tomorrow I can see McLaren challenging for 5th place since both drivers are very accomplished in the wet and rain does seem to even out the cars.

Losers:

Paul Di Resta: Q15 – Probably should have made it into Q3 had a disastrous Q2 strategy left him out. Di Resta came in at the end of his banker lap (a lap set on tyres from the previous session so that the driver has a time even if something goes wrong) meaning he hadn’t set a time when rain came out and left him completely out of qualifying.

Romain Grosjean: Q11 – Grosjean suffered the same as Di Resta with problem of rain stopping him improving on his lap time leaving him just out of Q3. 2013 hasn’t gone well for Grosjean so far with a bad race last weekend and now this but he’s got talent and should return to the top of his game soon.

Valtteri Bottas: Q18 – It’s been a bad start for Williams so far with Maldonado out in Q1 last week and Bottas suffering the same fate this weekend the car just isn’t working like the team will have hoped and this could be a direct consequence of being the only team to miss the Jerez test.

BREAKING: Raikkonen given a 3 place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg in Q3, this means Raikkonen is now 10th whilst Button Sutil and Perez move up one place each to 7th, 8th and 9th respectively.

Swansong pole for Hamilton as McLaren go 1-2.

24 Nov

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Brazil 12.

Winners:

  • Lewis Hamilton – Q1: Despite already being ruled out of the drivers championship Hamilton was second to none in qualifying. Interlagos has never been a circuit where Lewis has performed strongly but if he has a good day tomorrow he could get his final McLaren victory before the move to the mediocre Mercedes.
  • Sebastian Vettel – Q4: It appears that so long as there’s no rain tomorrow Vettel will be only the third driver to take 3 championships on the trot, Vettel could only manage 4th in qualifying but with Alonso 8th only rain can realistically stop Vettel’s title charge.
  • Nico Hulkenburg – Q7: In comparison to his last F1 qualifying at Interlagos today was a massive disappointment but then again he’d set the target high. Hulkenburg’s 7th grid spot puts him ahead of 3 world champions (Alonso, Raikkonen and Schumacher since you ask) and ahead of team mate Di Resta. Hulkenburg’s talents are going to be wasted at Sauber next season, he should easily be driving for one of the bigger teams.

Losers:

  • Romain Grosjean – Q18: After an incident with Pedro De La Rosa and then a loss of a front wing Grosjean just couldn’t pull out a good enough lap to make it through to Q2. The start of the race will be vital for Grosjean tomorrow, with so many slower cars around him there’s a chance he could crash out on lap 1 again.
  • Michael Schumacher – Q14: 7 world championships, 91 race victories and 155 podiums. It all comes to an end tomorrow for the greatest F1 driver so far but it’s disappointing to see him so low down on the grid as Mercedes just haven’t been able to make a good enough car.
  • Fernando Alonso – Q8: Ferrari fans around the world will be hoping that Alonso’s car was on a wet setup when he qualified today because if he wasn’t then the championships as good as lost, the same can be said for if it doesn’t rain tomorrow. Alonso’s title chances hang by a thread.

Prediction:

With a front row lock out it looks like it will be a McLaren victory and from the performances so far this weekend I’d plump for Hamilton with Button 3rd. Webber is my bet for 2nd but I fully expect Vettel to come close to the podium, Massa will also be fighting for the podium so long as he doesn’t A, have to give up his position to Alonso or B, if he ‘accidentally’ collides with Vettel. If it rains then my prediction will definitely not be correct with maybe Button winning and the chance of both of the Ferrari drivers joining him on the podium.

The prediction for the championship is that Vettel will be the champion so long as there isn’t rain or a retirement for the German. If it does rain then predicting the champion is going to nigh on impossible.

F1 starts to get predictable as Vettel takes (another) pole.

27 Oct

3 winners an losers of qualifying:

Winners:

Sebastian Vettel: Qualified 1st – Vettel has been dominant since F1’s second journey to the east, winning in all of the last three races and using this abundance in points to put himself as the favourite for the championship. Vettel put in another fantastic qualifying lap today and it’s looking likely that Vettel will claim his fourth victory on the trot.

Sergio Perez: Qualified 8th – Despite missing FP1 yesterday with a stomach bug Perez appears to really understand this track and has done fantastically in qualifying, especially when you consider that qualifying has been his weakness this season, from 8th Perez will be looking to pick up a top 5 finish. Whilst Perez did fantastically in qualifying the same can’t be said for team mate Kobayashi who will start from 17th.

Kimi Raikkonen: Qualified 7th – Kimi has had a fantastic return to F1 he’s been Mr. Consistent and regularly has picked up big points. Starting from 7th Raikkonen will be looking to pick up more points.

Losers:

Ferrari: Qualified 5th (Alonso) and 6th (Massa) – With the drivers championship hanging in the balance you’d expect Ferrari to be bringing new parts to every race to try and eek out that extra tenth of a second, but due to problems with their development cycle Alonso is falling behind in the drivers championship. Despite all this negativity it was quite a good performance for Ferrari in qualifying seeing as they’d not made the top 8 in practice.

Bruno Senna: Qualified 13th – After a very optimistic performance in FP3 – going 6th fastest – many expected Bruno to make it through to Q3 and battle for one of the better starting positions, but after a disappointing lap in Q2 Bruno only made it to 13th whilst his team mate Maldonado – who’d struggled in FP3 – made it to Q3 and will start 9th.

Paul Di Resta: Qualified 16th – It’s starting to become apparent why Sauber signed Hulkenburg over Di Resta, whilst Hulkenburg put his car 12th Di Resta could only manage 16th, seven tenths of a second slower. It will take a fantastic drive tomorrow for Di Resta to pick up any points.

Prediction:

This will sound narrow minded but I can’t see anyone beating Vettel to the chequered flag tomorrow unless breaks on the car, but who else will make the top 3 isn’t as clear cut. I would expect Webber to finish second with Hamilton 3rd but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they finished the other way round. Button should also be considered for a podium tomorrow because he set some fantastic times during Q2, and Alonso shouldn’t be discounted as the Spaniard puts in his best performances when under pressure. Massa and Raikkonen will likely fight for 6th/7th with only a miracle letting them finish on the podium, whilst if Sauber can find the sweet spot tomorrow Perez could take the teams 5th podium.

 

Championship hopefuls next to each other at Webber goes quickest.

13 Oct

3 winners and 3 losers of qualifying, Korea 12.

Winners:

Mark Webber: Mark’s really struggled since the start of the season and has gone from being a championship contender to having to play 2nd fiddle at Red Bull, but the strong performance today (qualifying 1st) should put him in good stead for tomorrow and could maybe revitalise his championship hopes.

Nico Hulkenburg: Nico is one of the best young drivers on the grid at the moment and he rose to that potential today qualifying 8th and should be able to challenge for big points tomorrow. Nico will find his good lap even sweeter with the knowledge that his team mate, Di Resta is starting back in 14th.

Felipe Massa: Massa clicked last weekend in Japan and appears to have brought this speed with him to Korea, he’s looked good all weekend, and starting from 6th he could be an outsider for another podium.

Losers:

Jenson Button: Whilst Lewis went 3rd Jenson couldn’t make it into Q3 and can’t be at all pleased with his performance. Button has always been weak in qualifying but his performance today could put him in a bad position for the race tomorrow and is likely to be fighting for the small points.

Bruno Senna: You wouldn’t want to Bruno at the moment, he’s struggling to put in a good performance in qualifying and it’s looking likely that he’ll be replaced at Williams for next year. Bruno could still pick up points this weekend but it will take a fantastic performance from 18th if that is to happen.

Mercedes: Mercedes were one of the strongest teams at the start of the year, winning in China but they have really lost ground since then and it looks like they’re either struggling to get the car working properly or that they may be putting all their work into the 2013 car.

Prediction:

I think it’s likely that it will be a Red Bull victory tomorrow and that the other Red Bull driver will also make it to the podium but the final place in the top 3 should be up for grabs, Hamilton is the most likely man seeing that he qualified 3rd but Hamilton has struggled at the first corner over the weekend and that could let Alonso through. Alonso’s Ferrari has been very strong over the first sector and if he puts in a fantastic first sector on the first lap he could run as high as 2nd or 3rd. Raikkonen should also be classed as a contender, he’s quick and always seems to be on the quickest strategy, all it would take is an awkwardly timed safety car for a Kimi podium. The final contender should be Massa who appears to have carried his speed from last weekend over to this one, if one of the top 5 qualifies retires Massa will be a big contender, so long as Grosjean doesn’t get to him before that.

 

Red Bull dominate despite stewards enquiry.

6 Oct

3 winners and losers of qualifying, Japan 12.

Winners:

  1. Sebastian Vettel: Vettel has had a very strong weekend, he was fastest in FP3 and followed that up by going quickest in qualifying which means that he’s started from pole 4 times in a row at Suzuka, from first on the grid Vettel will doubtlessly be looking to win and close the gap to championship leader Alonso. There is a chance Vettel could lose this pole position though if the stewards deem him to have held up Alonso.
  2. Kamui Kobayashi: It was at this circuit in 2010 that Kamui showed to the world that overtaking can occur at any corner and yet again Kobayashi has upped his game for the home GP, qualifying in 4th is good enough, but due to Button’s 5 place grid penalty (gearbox change) Kamui will start from 3rd on the grid. Would it be too much to hope for a Kamui podium?
  3. Pedro De La Rosa: since the introduction of new teams in 2010 there has been a hierarchy between the 3 but today that hierarchy was smashed apart, HRT qualifying higher than both a Marussia and more impressively a Caterham, you never know there may be some exciting racing going on between the 3 teams tomorrow.

Losers:

  1. Lewis Hamilton: With his championship dreams already damaged by his retirement in Singapore it could be shattered tomorrow due to him having to start from 9th, if he struggles to overtake early on he could be looking at the end of his chances in the championship.
  2. Mercedes: Do you remember the Mercedes who started the year looking so promising, even winning in China. Well a lot’s changed since then and Mercedes are now really struggling to put in good performances, neither driver made it to Q3 today and Schumacher also has a 10 place grid penalty, looks like a certain Lewis Hamilton may have made a bad decision.
  3. Felipe Massa: If you’re driving for the most prestigious team in Formula 1 and there’s every chance you’re going to be replaced you need to put in fantastic times in qualifying to make sure the management decide to keep you, sadly Massa refuses to listen to my advice and instead qualified 11th despite being 3rd quickest in FP3. But if Massa drives like he did in Singapore a top 6 finish isn’t out of the question.

Prediction:

Tomorrow’s race is set to be a crucial day for the drivers championship, if Vettel can get a clean start I fully expect him to win the race and I’d also say it’s likely that Webber will be finish 2nd. Who will finish 3rd is going to be much more of a guess, Kobayashi could do it if he drives like he did in 2010, Perez could do it if it’s a high degradation race, if Grosjean can make it past turn 1 he’ll have a chance and then there’s Alonso who will drive like a machine and thinks he could have qualified 3rd if it hadn’t been for yellow flags. Who will be on the podium? Only time will tell.