Interlagos: Qualifying

Qualifying has begun; just a quick run down before we get onto the results…

Qualifying

Qualifying is split up into three sections (Q1, Q2, Q3), the first two have knock out zones for the bottom 7 drivers. Everyone goes out in

  • Q1 and tries to set their fastest time (in 20 minutes), usually the front-runners wait and go out late, but here in Brazil (due to the weather) everyone has gone out straight away. The bottom 7 drop out and their positions are decided on their fastest times.
  • Q2 and the remaining 17 go out and do the same again, and again the bottom 7 drop out and positions are decided on their fastest times.
  • Q3 starts and this is the big one, the top 10 go out (for 10 minutes) and this is where pole position gets decided.

Grid Position – clean and dirty

It might be worth a note here about grid position. Pole position is great as it’s on the ‘clean side’ of the track, as well as the rest of the odd-numbered grid spaces. Everyone who ends up with an even number, gets the ‘dirty side’. So what is the difference?

  • Clean side – this is also known as the racing line, this is where (unless it’s rained) the majority of the rubber from the tires has been laid. This offers the best grip and essentially the best times; starting here means you get that great start which could push the driver up a couple of places before that first corner.
  • Dirty side – obviously the opposite of the clean side; but to clarify it misses out on the advantages of that extra grip, and can also feature debris that is pushed over. Without the help of cars clearing that side of the track is can hamper that all important start.

Q1 – results

1. Fernando Alonso – 1:18.987

2. Mark Webber – 1:19.025

3. Sebastian Vettel – 1:19.160

Q2 – results

1. Mark Webber – 1:18.516

2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:18.691

3. Robert Kubica – 1:18.877

Q3 – results

1. Nico Hulkenberg – 1:14.470

2. Sebastian Vettel – 1:15.519

3. Mark Webber – 1:15.637

Read: Full Qualifying Results

The big story could have quite easily been that Jenson Button left qualifying in Q2; limping into the race all the way back in 11th position. Interviewed after being knocked out he explained that he was struggling with the car for the whole weekend but improved in qualifying. Not even the addition of new tires could help him out as they went away on his second lap. But he remains optimistic going into the race saying that he’s ‘started from worse’, but disappointed that he won’t be able to help his teammate out for the title chase.

As you may have seen from the results it’s not the expected Red Bull 1-2, but rather a 2-3. The massive surprise that came from Q3 was that the rookie Nico Hulkenberg from Williams took the pole position. And what a time and challenge he lay down; over a second faster than the rest of the field! But then if we delve deeper into the results; Hamilton 4th (Button 11th), Alonso 5th (Massa 9th). If Hamilton and Alonso are expecting help from their teammates; they might be waiting for a long time.

Hulkenberg may have got the pole; but I think it is fair to say (and he must know this) that his chances of winning are slim, but that’s not the point here. This is a great result for Formula One in general; showing that even this late in the game surprises keep cropping up, proving that this sport is still exciting and intriguing. And even if the other drivers are shocked or surprised they didn’t show it; instead praising the young rookie for his great achievement of his first pole position. When Hulkenberg lined up for the media with the Red Bulls; he received affirmation from Webber with an audible ‘wow’ from the Australian.

But a quick note on the grid tomorrow; the Williams cars aren’t well-known for their starting ability…Mark Webber may fancy his chances about nipping around Hulkenberg, but let’s hope he’s got his wits about him. Alonso is directly behind.

Power to the rookies!

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