Sunday, 8 May 2011

Qualifying - Turkey 2011

Formula 1 kicks off the 'European' season with a qualifying session that threw up a couple of surprises and a lot of focus on tyres.

Kobayashi was the mystery driver who failed to make it into Q2 following his car switching off towards the end of his first flying lap.  He did not make it back to his pit box and was forced to sit out the rest of qualifying without setting a time.  With a full compliment of tyres on hand for the race, he is bound to entertain with plenty of overtaking as he attempts to climb into the top 10.

The other surprise was the likes of Massa and Di Resta, drivers who should be pushing to make it into Q3 using a set of soft tyres in Q1.  This seemed particularly conservative given that Kobayashi was already out and none of the Lotus, Virgin or HRT cars should be quick enough to trouble the Force India or Ferrari.

The disappointment for Q1 was Glock, who will grid up in between the 2 HRT cars after being out qualified by Liuzzi.  This is the 2nd race in succession that Glock has been beaten by his rookie team mate in qualifying.  Something is not right with Glock.  While D'Ambrosio is certainly a talent and should do well in his F1 career, he should not be quicker than Glock, not yet anyway.

Q2 set the grid positions for both the Toro Rosso cars in 16th and 17th, Perez in the remaining Sauber in 15th.  This is a disappointing result for each of these drivers given their results so far this season.  With at least some of the new parts on the Williams working, Maldonado qualified in 15th while Barrichello in the other Williams was unlucky to miss out on progressing to Q3 after being pushed down to 11th.  Sutil and DiResta took up 12th and 13th respectively after a solid but still unsatisfying performance for the Force India duo.  The good news for Sutil is that he beat his team mate in qualifying for the first time this year. This may help keep the wolves at bay for a little while longer.

All the drivers used a set of the soft tyres in Q2 with some running softs in both runs in the session.

Q3 was a strategic session with most drivers opting to only do 1 run in order to save a set of soft tyres for the race.  Only Petrov, Alonso, Button and Hamilton opted for 2 runs in Q3 while Heidfeld, Rosberg, Schumacher and Massa all left their single run for the last couple of minutes of the session.  This strategy did not pay for Massa, who made a mistake on his flying lap and chose not to complete the lap and thus failed to set a time in Q3. 

The Red Bulls each set a lap time early in Q3 heading to the pits with Vettel in P1 and Webber in P2.  As the rest of the top 10 headed out for their laps in the dying minutes of Q3, Vettel and Webber stepped out of their cockpits and watched the rest of the session from the garage.  It was a gamble that paid off as neither time was beaten.  Vettel continues his clean sweep of pole positions for 2011 and with Webber starting from P2, Red Bull has their first front row lock out for the year.  Nico Rosberg, in a much better showing from Mercedes so far this weekend staked his claim on 3rd position as he continues to force his way into the pointy end of the field.

Hamilton could only manage 4th, but did manage to hold off the Ferrari of Alonso.  Button was almost 0.4 seconds slower than his team mate and ended up in 6th position while Petrov showed his speed over his much more experienced team mate by taking 7th place on the grid.  Schumacher just can not get his Mercedes to work and the footage from the garages following qualifying showed a frustrated man desparately seeking answers.  Heidfeld set a time marginally slower than Schumacher to take up 9th position and Massa rounded out the top 10 by not setting a time.

With rain predicted tomorrow, the dry run pace of qualifying may well be irrelevant for the race.  Regardless, there should be plenty to watch for race 4 of the 2011 F1 season.

Qualifying Times - Turkey 2011

Pos Driver Q1 Q2 Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel 1:27.039 1:25.610 1:25.049
2 Mark Webber 1:27.090 1:26.075 1:25.454
3 Nico Rosberg 1:27.514 1:25.801 1:25.574
4 Lewis Hamilton 1:27.091 1:26.066 1:25.595
5 Fernando Alonso 1:27.349 1:26.152 1:25.851
6 Jenson Button 1:27.374 1:26.485 1:25.982
7 Vitaly Petrov 1:27.475 1:26.654 1:26.296
8 Michael Schumacher 1:27.697 1:26.121 1:26.646
9 Nick Heidfeld 1:27.901 1:26.740 1:26.659
10 Felipe Massa 1:27.013 1:26.395 -
11 Rubens Barrichello 1:28.246 1:26.764
12 Adrian Sutil 1:27.392 1:27.027
13 Paul Di Resta 1:27.625 1:27.145
14 Pastor Maldonado 1:27.396 1:27.236
15 Sergio Perez 1:27.778 1:27.244
16 Sebastian Buemi 1:27.620 1:27.255
17 Jaimie Alguersuari 1:28.055 1:27.572
18 Heikki Kovaleinen 1:28.780

19 Jarno Trulli 1:29.673

20 Jerome D'Ambrosio 1:30.445

21 Tonio Liuzzi 1:30.692

22 Timo Glock 1:30.813

23 Narain Karthikeyan 1:31.564

24 Kamui Kobayashi -

107% time 1:33.103

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