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Hamilton takes pole as Barrichello shunt thwarts Vettel and Rosberg
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Hamilton takes pole as Barrichello shunt thwarts Vettel and Rosberg
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Sep 2009   |  4:27 pm GMT  |  21 comments

Lewis Hamilton took a widely predicted pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix today, but he was given a helping hand by Rubens Barrichello who crashed with 26 seconds remaining, when Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg were both on potentially better laps. They ended up second and third respectively.

Picture 31
It was an anti climactic ending to a session which was brought alive by the unexpected performance of Rosberg and the Red Bulls.

Hamilton felt that he had a couple of tenths over the others in any case.

“I came in today with a positive approach, ” said Hamilton. “My mechanics did a great job working until 10am repairing the car. A big thanks to them. The lap was really relaxed. The car has got better as the track has got grippier.”

Barrichello did a lot of damage to his car, which will put a lot of pressure on the Brawn mechanics tomorrow. The crash worked to his advantage as he was in 5th place at the time with Alonso and Glock possibly in a position to get ahead of him.

He had to change the gearbox before the session which means he will take a penalty and lose five grid places, but if he has to change the new one as well because it is damaged, he may be in even more trouble.

Ross Brawn called it a ‘disastrous’ session for his team, where they underestimated the opposition in Q2.

Hamilton was fastest in Q1, from Button while Giancarlo Fisichella dropped out at the first hurdle. He feels that he is far away from the limit of the car, doesn’t have the feeling for it. He seems to be struggling on braking in particular, perhaps due to the way the car brakes to harvest energy for KERS.

In Q2, Rosberg was blisteringly fast, while Button struggled. After the first runs he was in the drop zone and it didn’t improve from there. He ended up 12th. He looked uncomfortable with the car. He had taken a wrong direction on set up in the practice session and didn’t seem to have improved things much for qualifying.

“The problem was understeer,” said Button. ” We tried to change it but it meant that the bottom of the car was hitting the ground and I had a lock up. It’s been tough, we were quick in Q1. 12th on the grid is disastrous.”

Team mate Barrichello had an off, damaging the floor of his car, but recovered well to get through to Q3 on his final run.

Also in trouble in Q2 was the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. He was third in Q1, but his best wasn’t good enough.

This result, especially for Red Bull is an unexpected bonus, with Vettel in 2nd place and Webber 4th, it is an opportunity to get some point back from the Brawn drivers. This track should have suited Brawn better on paper, but the modifications to the Red Bull seem to have improved it on this track.

It is yet another twist in a fascinating season where it has been hard to be certain with predictions of how teams will go from track to track.

Nico Rosberg complained that he was cheated out of victory by Renault last year in Singapore, where he finished second to Fernando Alonso. Perhaps tomorrow he will have his chance to claim that elusive first win.

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21 Comments
  1. Brace says:

    Rosberg’s comment about being “cheated out of victory by Renault” is bordering on ultimate stupidity.
    If it weren’t for junior’s crash the best he could have hoped for would be 4th or 5th, so he better shout up and just drive.

  2. Jamie Bell says:

    I have to say that that was a hugely disappointing anti-climax to qualifying 3. I although I complete believe Barrichello’s accident was accidental, it is roughly the same circumstances that Michael Schumacher found himself at the Monaco GP Qualifying a few years ago when he deliberately crashed to stop his competitors getting in a faster lap, and a session restart was impracticable. Perhaps the “red flag/restart” system could be improved to close this possibility”.

    I thought the top 3 drivers looked a little uncomfortable in the press conference because they feel they weren’t given the opportunity to show their best and therefore the result seems a little fake or unrepresentative. Don’t we think that the way the stewards deal with the “red flag/restart” scenario deserves so more scrutineering?

    When the race is stopped with 30 seconds to go in the session, nobody can complete a timed lap at the restart because no one can get to the start of a lap before the end of the session. This seems unfair to those who were on the track and poised to start a good lap. It would be much more fairer if (at session restart), those competitors could start from where they were interrupted by the red flag on their timed lap. Here’s my solution to make it a fair session restart.

    What if at the session restart, the competitors who were on a timed lap are allowed to exit the pit lane before the session restarts? The amount of time they are allowed out before the restart would be – their timed lap time + their best qualifying lap time.

    So for example, if Rosberg was on a flying lap 2/3 of the way through having completed “1m10″ and his best lap was “1m47″, he would be allowed to exit the pits “2m57″ before the session restart meaning that when the session restarted he would be on track in almost the same position as when the session was red flagged!

    James what do think of this idea? I certainly don’t think the current “red flag/restart” system is fair or enjoyable to watch.

    1. James Allen says:

      Well thankfully it doesn’t happen very often

      1. Jamie Bell says:

        Seems the Japanese GP Qualifying is proof of the contrary! I lost track of how many times it happened. :)

        I still think the drivers are unfairly punished by loosing time (possibly they’re only shot at a proper time) – and also loosing a set of tyres – for someone else’s mistake.

        My idea (I described above) could also be applied to situations of double yellows so that in the situation at Qualifying Japan, where Jenson and Rubens were penalised for having too fast a lap during double yellows wouldn’t be an issue, because they would have no reason to push if they were given another shot at it as my idea described!

        Besides where’s the sense of saying ‘you can’t set your fastest lap on a lap of double yellows’. If a single flying lap is wrecked, it’s wrecked. Might as well call it a red flag and reset with the rules of the idea above…

    2. Jason C says:

      How about, instead of that, simply adding 2 minutes to the clock in the event of a quali session red-flag?

      1. Jamie Bell says:

        Sounds good to! and would be better than the current system.

        I suppose some would complain because if some driver is out there lapping continually, then also does during those 2 minutes, he effectively got 2 minutes extra…

  3. Ray.C. says:

    It was looking like any one of 5 guys for pole….can’t wait to see the fuel weights.

    You might be right about Rosberg, James, I think he’s a dark horse.
    Schumacher and Kubica’s first wins spring to mind as a kind of payback for the previous years race.

    Btw…all the weather reports I’ve seen online suggest rain all weekend, but there doesn’t seem to be any….can you enlighten us please?

  4. M__E says:

    RE: Barrichello..“The crash worked to his advantage as he was in 5th place at the time with Alonso and Glock possibly in a position to get ahead of him”
    yikes! interesting timing for a comment like that :D

  5. Patrickl says:

    Did Rosberg really say that he was cheated out of his first win? In the press conference he said not.

    If anything, isn’t it more like he was cheated INTO his first 2nd place?

  6. Silverstoned says:

    “The crash worked to his advantage”

    Hello

  7. Ron says:

    Why don’t Ferrari take the KERS off Fisichella’s car?

  8. The Artist says:

    Could Barrichello not face starting from the pitlane since he will necessarily have to have adjustments made to his suspension (Which is one of the few adjustments that requires a pitlane start)? Or have I mis-understood the rules there?

  9. David Young says:

    how does parc ferme work? I thought all the runners in Q3 were subject to parc ferme. Obviously Ruben’s Brawn won’t be. Are there restrictions on what they can repair? Is he allowed to sdjust his fuel load?

  10. raffamuffin says:

    Let’s hope he can keep on the road and out of the barrier for the race :)

  11. DAN says:

    Picture the scene:
    We are in Singapore prior to the F1 Grand-prix. A brazilian race driver who during the season had a stormy relationship with his manager and does not know if his contract will be renewed, comes up with a strange idea. His team had not performed too well during first practice and the chances or scoring points are remote. The driver thus arranges to meet the team manager and his second in command and offers to crash his car to help the lead driver by preventing the team’s opponents to post fast times during qualifying. During qualifying he crashes his car and thanks to this the next day the team’s opponents are not scoring as many points as they might have scored had they qualified further up the grid.

    At the end the of the season the Brazilian driver’s team mate is sacred World Champion but despite this the Brazilian contract is not renewed. Furious he goes to the FIA and reveal he was ordered by his team boss and second in command to crash his car on purpose in Singapore.
    They in turn put squarely the blame on him.
    The FIA World council summons the 3 members of the team involved in the conspiracy to a meeting at the FIA headquarters. The driver is given immunity, his team mate not privy to the conspiracy loses his world title and his reputation is in taters and the two team members are banned from F1. The Team loses his few remaining sponsors, is forced to pack up and put up for sale.

    I wonder if with this short story I could have a good basis for a novel? I guess not as I fear nobody would find it believable . What do you think James ? :-)

    I am sur that all of us fans, when we saw Rubinho crash his car, were left wondering for a moment if he did it on purpose or not. Sad isn’t it that from now on, thanks to Nelsinhogate we will find all crashes suspicious…

    Until now stuff like that was happening only in Michel Vaillant’s comic books but now we see it in real F1, too bad.

  12. ronmon says:

    Well, that screwed up my prediction for Vettel on the pole. We’ll see how I did for the podium.

  13. knoxploration says:

    Thanks to the stewards for turning qualifying into a damp squib. There was absolutely no need to red flag the session in the dying seconds – Rubens was clearly visible on a straight, with loads of room to avoid him, little to no debris on the track, and seconds counting down until the session was over.

    A yellow flag at the preceding corner was all that was necessary. This would’ve allowed anybody that was further down the track to complete their timed laps. For shame!

    1. Just a bloke says:

      Surely even with a yellow you would not be able to keep a fast time. In fact do you not get a penalty if you set your fastest time under a yellow?

  14. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    Looks like Hamilton is heavier than the Red Bulls and Rosberg, so unless he cocks up the start, he looks great for victory.

    Red Bull look set to take a hefty chunk out of Brawn this weekend. In the F1 season that just won’t let up with the fascination, it looks like we’re set for a tightening battle to the end. Red Bull should go quicker at Suzuka, and Interlagos could be a wash.

    McLaren also look set to take a chunk out of Ferrari for 3rd in the constructors championship.

    1. Werewolf says:

      Thank you, Paige, an inteligent look at the race with complete ignorance of the accidental end to qualifying.

      The only thing I would add is that Button is heavier still, so it will be interesting to watch the whole thing play out, championship-wise.

  15. Antonis says:

    James,

    we see once again this season Jenson struggling with his setup, while Rubens is doing well.

    Is Jenson still allowed to copy the setup of Ruberns, as he did earlier in the season, or not any more?

    thanks for the great blog, A.

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