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Vettel takes European Grand Prix pole as field closes up
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Vettel takes European Grand Prix pole as field closes up
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Jun 2010   |  2:28 pm GMT  |  111 comments

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the European Grand Prix at Valencia, ahead of Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton.

It was a terrific qualifying session with the latest developments on several cars closing the performance gap to Red Bull and McLaren at the front. Throughout the three sessions the benchmark moved between Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Renault and it was close until Q3 when the Red Bulls stretched their legs.


It was Vettel’s first pole position since China and the fourth front row lock out for the Red Bull team this season. And this was at a track the team expected to struggle with. It is the first qualifying the team has used the drag reducing F Duct rear wing and it gave them a lot here.

Going into the final qualifying session it seemed there were six drivers capable of taking the pole. The top six in Q2 were covered by 0.15s, but Red Bull was faster when the cars all went onto the hard tyre in Q3. Vettel was only 8/100ths of a second ahead of Webber, the same margin as in Melbourne, but a comfortable four tenths faster than Hamilton in third place.

“It’s good, ” said Vettel. “The last couple of races we didn’t have a smooth run, This circuit shouldn’t be our strongest but we managed to put the car on pole. I had to do it all in the second run. It was a tough one, we reintroduced the F Duct and the mechanics had maybe one or two hours of sleep.”

Robert Kubica looked lively in the Renault en route to sixth place. Jenson Button made a mistake in the final corner and lost a few tenths of a second, which dropped him to 7th. The McLaren is losing time to the Red Bull in the higher speed final sector.

Despite their technical updates this weekend the Ferraris didn’t have the speed in the final reckoning; Alonso was 4th and Massa 5th.

Michael Schumacher toiled due to a problem with braking on his car, it felt like it was pulling to the right in Q1 and he needed his final lap at the end of the session to make it through to Q2. He fared little better, ending up 15th and team mate Rosberg missed the cut as well in 12th place, despite a major set of developments on the car. Both drivers were on the hard tyre to set their times.

“We had a general issue with the tyres not working as in Canada,” said Schumacher. “I was also locking up the brakes, I don’t understand that. We are fighters we know you have those moments when you don’t understand things. With fuel in the car we are strong, it doesn’t help if you qualify back there.

In the new teams battle, Jarno Trulli’s Lotus was the pacesetter, four tenths ahead of the Virgins. Trulli had a new chassis this weekend and is much happier about it. Mentally he has turned a corner and sees this as a new start after a series of car failures.

“We were actually 2.5 seconds off the quickest time in Q1, and percentage wise that’s our best performance of the year so far ” said Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne. “We’ve moved further away from the competition behind us, so overall it was a very solid performance.”

Lucas di Grassi outqualified his Virgin Racing team mate Timo Glock for the first time this season, by 0.054 of a second.

In Q2 the top six cars were all within 0.16 sec of each other. The Williams cars were in better form than for a long time. Both made it into the top ten shoot out on the race which marked the 100th Grand Prix since their last win. Amazingly the two drivers set identical lap times in Q3. Barrichello felt he could have been in the top six but for a slight issue with his brakes. But it was a far more competitive showing from the team.

Most of the front runners worked on the hard tyres in the first two sessions, doing 2 lap runs with the time coming on the second lap. Hamilton tried the soft tyre at the end of Q2.

After the first runs in Q3, Webber was fastest from Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Massa and Alonso, who had an untidy first run.

In the final runs, Vettel went first and took provisional pole. Hamilton blew his final lap, Webber went ahead of the Briton into second place.

“I’m happy to be here, ” said Hamilton. “We knew that a few people had updates and we saw in practice that we were behind. We didn’t expect to be so far up. I was up on my final lap by a tenth and then I locked up the rears in Turn 12. I thought I would drop back but I was surprised when I came out third.”

EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX, Valencia, Qualifying

1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:38.324 1:38.015 1:37.587
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:38.549 1:38.041 1:37.662
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.697 1:38.158 1:37.969
4. Alonso Ferrari 1:38.472 1:38.179 1:38.075
5. Massa Ferrari 1:38.657 1:38.046 1:38.127
6. Kubica Renault 1:38.132 1:38.062 1:38.137
7. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.360 1:38.399 1:38.210
8. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.843 1:38.523 1:38.428
9. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.449 1:38.326 1:38.428
10. Petrov Renault 1:39.004 1:38.552 1:38.523
11. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:39.096 1:38.586
12. Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.752 1:38.627
13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:39.021 1:38.851
14. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.969 1:38.884
15. Schumacher Mercedes 1:38.994 1:39.234
16. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.003 1:39.264
17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:39.128 1:39.458
18. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.343
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.658
20. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.882
21. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.086
22. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.140
23. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:42.600
24. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:42.851

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111 Comments
  1. chris green says:

    Seems the Mercedes team is having the same problem as Brawn in 09. Can’t switch on the tyres. Same design team?

  2. ColinZeal says:

    I had to laugh when I saw DiGrassi pip Glock in the closing moments of Q1, a result generally unexpected by readers of this blog it seems.

    Congratulations to the winner of the Silverstone tickets!

    1. F1ART says:

      Yes great fun! Made me laugh aswell, most of us thinking we had a chance for sure then the form book is overturned.

  3. Zed says:

    Which is the cleaner side? Can Lewis get in between the Bulls at the start?

    1. James Allen says:

      Lewis and Seb’s side

      1. Zed says:

        Then I guess he does have a chance at upsetting the RB party. I wonder if Seb’s gearbox will hold out? Lewis will be pushing them both and we all know what happened last time.

      2. krampa says:

        James, remember I said I did not believe there was a problem with Seb’s gearbox?

        My theory is that the blown double diffuser results in a significant loss of speed when the car is fully loaded with fuel.

        To counter that, the Red Bulls under fuel their cars, hoping there will either be a SC or that they will be able to sprint away from the field and coast to the finish.

        This plan has not worked in the past couple of races, forcing them to slow down to conserve fuel.

        I think they will continue with this strategy today, hoping the circuit layout will provide a cover for them. However, expect Lewis to be all over them for significant portions of the race.

        If Mark W cannot jump Seb into the first corner, he is a sitting duck!

  4. Carl 21 says:

    My money is on Alonso as I can see another red bull crash. Hamilton will probably over drive the car like he does. Alonso for the win.

    1. Revilo says:

      Overdrive the car as usual! Sounds like wishful thinking to me.

      1. Formula Zero says:

        I think he meant overworking the tyres as usual. He has got a point, don’t you think?

    2. Anthony says:

      yeah he overdrives it to the finish, like in canada and turkey :)

    3. Peter says:

      Erm when has Hamilton ever overdriven the car this season? Sounds like a comment from the pro Alonso/anti Hamilton brigade!

    4. Steven says:

      The way he overdrove in Canada, or Turkey? Seems like Alonso needs to start overdriving that Ferrari.

  5. Tony says:

    James,
    Mark Webber has looked very unhappy in the last 2 press conferences (Valencia & Montreal).Any thoughts?

    1. James Allen says:

      He doesn’t like being beaten. He was on a roll, he wants to stay on it. Still he’s been top two in qualifying almost all year

      1. BMG says:

        I agree, At least he did not blame anyone like his team mate did. I quote, I’m not going to roll out a shopping trolley of excusses,I was not fast enough.He know’s Vettel is a fast starter in a race. He will be happy to finish second tomorrow and we all know that Vettel is harder on the car than Webber, so anything can happen.

    2. Diamond says:

      Yes, he wasn’t happy at all. As they came in to be weighed, Vettel shook every other hand but Mark’s, and I think that is the way Mark wanted it.

      The fact that Vettel turned into him, then crashed out and blamed Mark, I think Mark knows he cannot budge an inch with Seb. They are like two cowboys in a duel. The first one to blink loses, and gets shot! I think Mark has graciously blinked in the past to let his younger team mate have a go (esp. last year), but when Mark is on top, Seb has shown he will do anything to flatten him.

      I have to say that it would rub anyone the wrong way having to constantly deal with the media to play down the constant questions, when the younger tantrum thrower has kept out of it almost completely. For Mark to have to sit next to Seb without thumping him would be hard at the moment.

      Anyway, I am sure with his years behind him, Mark will put that anger into determination on the track. And I hope young Vettel allows time to take the edge off.

      I see the same in Hamilton. Earlier in the season he hasn’t been particularly encouraging to his team, making some harsh remarks, whereas Button having a plug left in one of his air intakes was quite gracious for an almost unforgivable mistake.

      I wonder if being groomed as the next big thing (Seb & Lewis) for most of their lives, and with that silver spoon firmly planted in their mouths makes them good drivers, but having little true character. They would say they don’t have it easy, but to the next guy, they get it pretty darn good. I find these supposed sporting greats with no character pretty pathetic these days, and have very little time for them.

      1. James Allen says:

        Interesting read on the situation, thanks

      2. Dan says:

        I might have agreed with you about Hamilton maybe 2 years ago. But, and I am not a fan of his, I think he has developed a great personality.

      3. sixtenths says:

        Have you not actually been watching F1 this year ?

        Lewis has won over a lot of fans and a lot of the occasional watchers with his stellar overtaking moves and irresistibly full on racing. Snide remarks about “firmly planted Silver Spoons” and the laughable “I find these supposed sporting greats with no character pretty pathetic these days” just betray your agenda.

        Just what would it take to impress you ? Would being a “Plain talking Aussie” somehow be more impressive than outbraking and overtaking, time and time again, the best of his Generation ?

      4. Diamond says:

        Yes I am Australian, and I don’t want to start a flame war :)

        I am impressed when drivers act with some grace when dealing with the ups and downs of driving. Yes, I can say that Webber can be aggressive on the track (as Australians are known to be – many times for the wrong reasons I have to say), but I wouldn’t say anywhere near Alonso, Vettel or Hamilton. Normally he is pretty relaxed off the track. I am trying to account for drivers having good and bad days. And they are all under a super intense microscope. I also must say that I am an almost accidental newcomer to following F1 seriously (Only the last two years – ironically it had nothing to do with Mark Webber, but it did have to do with Red Bull and the industry of my employment).

        I think when it comes down to it, I think that you can tell the drivers that are thankful to be there. When Red Bull where having reliability problems earlier this season, I believe I read a quote by Vettel earlier this season insinuating a threat to go to Ferrari if the car wasn’t sorted out. I could have misread, but that doesn’t speak to me of thankfulness and joy to be there, and being part of something amazing. I see that joy and thankfulness in Button, Kubica, Webber, Massa, Barichello and plenty of others in both the bad and the good times.

        I have to say that I am coming around with Lewis, especially with the things his family have gone through. That has to count for something. I want these guys to be as impressive off the track, and in down times as they are on… and Vettel is a qualifying genius. I think the way a person wins is more important than winning. I want Vettel to prove me wrong! He is young, and if he can get over himself a tad more, I know he will win me over.

    3. Robin Capper says:

      He should have shaved before qualifying. Every gram helps and maybe was the difference!

  6. Vinola says:

    So, JA, whatever happened to your counting of Button’s “victories” over Hamilton in early season vis a vis qualifying and “wise/mature” decisions that earned him all those wins? I see you are reduced to counting mistakes now- but still waiting for a positive comment on Hamilton’s perfomances from you. Sadly, your bias against Hamilton is getting in the way of an otherwise superb analysis.

    1. James Allen says:

      This is quite possibly the funniest comment I have ever received

      1. Anil says:

        I’m gonna have to agree with James here. James clearly appreciates Lewis as a driver, did you listen to him when he was commentator?

        I’m amazed someone is accusing you of bias on your blog. The only driver i’ve noticed you speak very highly of on your blog is Alonso and that’s clearly because you (like most F1 fans) regard him as probably the fastest overall driver.

      2. DC says:

        Although Alonso has not done much this season to deserve such high praise…many other drivers are doing a much better job.

      3. sixtenths says:

        How do you make Alonso “probably the fastest overall driver” when he was beaten by a Rookie, who has since significantly improved, as they all do ? He is hardly dominating Massa and has made loads of serious mistakes so far this year. Kubica is making a very good job of putting the Renault higher than he did [with realistic levels of fuel] and does not insist on posturing for his fans with light fuel loads.

      4. Zed says:

        Funny indeed.

        Anyway when are you coming back to commentate with Martin. I have have had enough of his current partner. In fact I regularly turn to the 5 Live commentary to get away from him.

      5. theothercoldone says:

        I think I watched the same qualifying as James – Hamilton was completely sideways into one of the corners on his last flying lap when his rears locked up, which compromised his time. I don’t think this is a biased comment in any way.

        Sadly it’s very easy for us armchair experts to sit on the other side of the world and disect the opinion of someone who knows most definitely what he’s talking about.

        As for the funniest/weirdest/oddest comment, mitsifumi-san is still in the lead, in my opinion…

      6. Monji says:

        Funny, I wouldn’t go as far as saying James had anti Hamilton comments but Vinola is quite right here JA, every time Button finishes ahead of Hamilton we usually get analysis clearly showing how Button is wiser… but never the other way round. A friend at work raised the same point after Canada.

      7. Bevan says:

        The superlatives for Button,undeserved IMO were flying thick & fast from many F1 insiders after the Aus GP which is where some,myself included felt an element of favoritism was evident.You can’t deny that Lewis brings something to the show that Buttons 10 years of smoothness doesn’t-Excitement.

    2. mohamed says:

      and i thought most people did not like james because of him being too biased towards lewis. I was1 of them

      1. Rich C says:

        No, I think most fans don’t like him because… ah… because he gets to go to all the races and claim its “work”!

    3. Paul Kirk says:

      Have another beer and go back to sleep, Vinola!
      PK.

  7. CPR says:

    This is a bit more what I was expecting this year – very close qualifying with nobody really sure how it’ll turn out. Great viewing.

    Looking at the fastest sector times, I’m not sure Lewis could have beaten the Red Bulls unless they made a mistake. I think Jenson could have gone P4 without his mistake though.

    Looks like McLaren having no upgrades and Red Bull’s upgrade working made a fair difference. Half-way through the season, the Red Bulls finally have a useful F-duct – will McLaren get a useful engine blown DD at Silverstone? Between the McLarens and Red Bulls, the difference in qualifying felt a bit like what it was in Turkey.

    Surprised to see the non-McLaren Mercedes powered cars do so poorly.

    Tomorrow’s race could be very tight. Hopefully we can see tactics make a difference.

  8. Dan says:

    Today is the first time that i had sat through an entire qualifying session and heard DC and EJ and their comments.

    And i agree with Schumacher completely. It’s nothing more than show-biz from those two.

    Real journalism reports the facts. What those two were doing was looking at MS in 15th in isolation from everything else. Rosberg was 6 tenths faster, but still only 3 positions up the road.

    Not once did DC or EJ come back and say: Well there appears to be a problem with the Merc in general”. All they could do was carry on and on about how MS had lost his ability to drive around a problem with a car. Not once did they acknowledge the fact that the problem with the car might be insurmountable. And judging by NR’s performance, it appears the problem is larger than any initially realised.

    Is MS at the top of his game? Probably not.

    But that doesn’t excuse the second-rate commentating from people who should know better.

    1. Anil says:

      Yeah their comments annoyed me. Onboard footage of Schumacher showed the car was moving to one side, he had brake issues and Fry was on the radio to him clarifying that ‘he had lost power steering’ and yet all we hear is the usual ‘he was an idiot to come back’ talk. kind of annoying given he showed good pace in Spain, Turkey and Monaco.

    2. tank says:

      See the front right lock-up in the final (left-hander) on Schumacher’s car? I’ve not seen that happen too often.

    3. Robyn says:

      I’ve been so annoyed by various aspects of the Speed Channel’s F1 coverage here in the US that I started contemplating how much better it would be if I were in the UK and watching it on the BBC. Sounds like I’d be annoyed there, too, though – just by different things!

      1. BeenDun says:

        Robyn, as a long suffering F1 fan in the US I am in agreement. SpeedTV is terrible. Once in awhile I download torrents of races with BBC coverage and it’s honestly 1000x better.

    4. TM says:

      I must say I’m getting annoyed by this too now.
      Never been a fan of Schumacher’s (but appreciate his old driving… when it was clean), but this constant badmouthing of him from the commentators is getting silly. It’s bordering on being vindictive actually, it reminds me of when one of the tabloids sinks their teeth into somebody; celebrity or politician, and won’t let go until they’ve destroyed them.

      I must say EJ is woeful on the BBC, he just asks stupid question after stupid question. Then there’s Red Bull’s David Coulthard, who speaks very highly of his employer whenever possible. And then Legard who as soon as he sees the ‘Team Radio’ icon precedes to yap all over it as if he’s commentating on a horse race.

      Rant over.
      Still, better than the ads on ITV!!!

    5. Paul Kirk says:

      Beautifully put, Dan, those thoughts were also going through my mind when I heard those comments! I’m of the opinion that all the F1 commentators, (except James Allen and Anthony Davison), should spend some time studying the NASCAR commentators’ techniques!! They can even discuss the slowest competitors and still show respect and not humilliate them, AND come accross as knowledgable.
      PK.

      1. I would disagree with that slightly.

        As someone who watches plenty of IndyCar and the occasional NASCAR, it annoys me how they never appear to be critical of anything.
        Rather than observe a poor showing, the commentators often ignore or go out their way to excuse a poor performance – that’s just annoying.

        Could the Beeb do better than DC or EJ? Absolutely.
        But should they fawn and misread a race in case they offend someone? No – that’s just a kop out.

      2. Paul Kirk says:

        I see what you mean, Leigh, and I suppose it depends what people need in a commentator as to what style of commentating you like. Personally I apreciate unbiased, expert, knowledgable observations of what’s going on, and not personal attacks and “little boy’s” criticism! I’m not keen on critics who try to come accross as a god of knowledge and who is beyond reproach, e.g., Edy Giordin. (Think- his atacking criticism of Michael Schumaker, e.g.). I tend to rather apreciate Anthony Davison’s knowledgeable and analitical and unbiased style. And as for the Yanks, well I think they realise that all competitors need sponsorship, and if they rubbish any of them, it may not help their sponsorship searches, therefore NASCAR would lose competitors, and in turn lose spectators. F1 could learn from this. Any driver or team that is competing in F1 has to be shown respect for the simple matter that there is a very limited number of them, and they are in the TOP form of motorsport in the world, (And I appologise for using a term more commonly used by USA citizens), so they are ALL good! And the commentators should build them up, not drag them down!
        Regards,PK.

    6. Ryan Eckford says:

      I agree with you that Mercedes has a problem in general. It is that the car is a bad car, especially compared to the Brawn car last year. I think Rosberg and Schumacher are doing a great job, but the car is a dog.

    7. Prof Bolshaviks says:

      Schumacher will always attract a lot of attention. It does seem silly though when he is behind nico, the commentators say he shouldn’t have come back. When he is ahead of nico, they say he is getting preferential treatment. No win situation I guess.

  9. smellyden says:

    It would seem that Williams have made a big step forward and thats good to see! Hopefully we will be in for a good race tomorrow

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      Yes, Smelly, I too am very happy to see Williams’ progress, and long may it continue!!
      PK.

  10. Mr Squiggle says:

    Mark Webber’s body language and his words at the press conference were all a too bit defensive for my liking. He wasn’t happy with himself at all. He’should get a good night’s sleep and turn up tomorrow in a better frame of mind. He needs to think of the champoinship and contemplate finishing second to Sebastian for this race

    Good performance from Seb, it looked to me that it was the third sector where he found his time

    1. M says:

      Seems Webber is the sulking one suddenly.

      1. Harvey says:

        Who WOULDN’T be a bit peeved, when after 3 of 4 races in a row, your team mate finally manages to outqualify you (by a whole 7 hundredths) and then all he does for the rest of the time is arrogantly wave that annoying finger around saying “No.1 No.1 No.1″!

      2. TM says:

        I think Vettel is a very gifted and fast driver.
        But the guy really really needs to grow up, and it’s taking him a long time. He makes so many mistakes, blames everyone else, and then, as you say Harvey, waves his no.1 finger all over the place after getting pole.

        I’ve always found that if you make a mistake or you weren’t good enough, you admit to it, put your head down and work. Webber does this, as do others. Vettel does the opposite, he blames others for mistakes and then rubs it in their faces when he gets a pole.

        I don’t blame him for being happy at getting pole, not at all, but there are no points for pole Seb, you need to not trash the car (and preferably also not your team mate) in the race before you get points.

    2. TM says:

      His body language might have been but his words weren’t defensive; firmly laying the blame on himself, and I have total respect for that. Not like his team mate who crashes into Webber and then blames him.

  11. Irish con says:

    Something tells me that alonso and Ferrari didn’t quite get that last last together properly and that the Ferrari and Renault are better on the hard tyres. Think they will be there in the race. Also how much is timo glock regretting his choice of virgin now.

  12. JimmiC says:

    “di Grassi outqualified his team mate Timo Glock for the first time this season, by 0.054 of a second.”

    Wahey! I was damn close.. I guessed Di Grassi might finally pull his finger out, but I had the gap down at 0.005 secs.

    Judging from people’s answers to the competition, I think most expected Glock to batter his team-mate.

  13. Adriano says:

    Well done RBR. So much for a track not suited to their car… Was it just me or did Mark seem a little peeved in the manner he walked from his car to get weighed in, and then not having his driving suit not fully buttoned up during the press conference. P.S. Love your work James. Cheers.

    1. Mikey says:

      At parc ferme and the weighing, other drivers were going up to Seb to shake hands and congratulate him, but Mark rather pointedly ignored him altogether!

  14. Ed says:

    Interesting qualifying session! Considering the race pace of the Red Bulls hasn’t quite been as strong as their qualifying pace, it could become a good race – although its tough to get my hopes up at this track.

    By the way James, what’s the reasoning (if any) behind the new low table at the press conferences – it looks awful.

    1. James Allen says:

      It shows the sponsor logos on the overalls better.

      1. Adam Tate says:

        More evidence of the sponsors messing things up. Someone should go back in time and tell Collin Chapman to never have put sponsorship on a car. Think how beautiful the machines would be sponsor free and how much junk we could do away with.

    2. Stuart fenton says:

      Why not get a couch like Jonathan Ross? It’s a bit jokey. Too oprah for my liking,

    3. Tim says:

      I agree ..dumb without a table…..they need to run a poll and see how many members and viewers actually hate the table not being there

    4. Paul Kirk says:

      Contrary to your opinion, ED, I like the new interview setup! I can look at a bench, counter or table any time I want to, but I can’t see the winners of a F1 race very often. The new system seems to give a more personal contact with them, which I like.
      PK.

  15. Mario says:

    I went through the ticket lottery entries. I did not win it nor has any one who went for Glock as this time it was di Grassi who was faster by 0.054s.

    I know the winners already but I will not tell so as not to spoil the fun. Congrats to you two!

  16. David Turnedge says:

    Very close Q3… but MW looked so peeved and didn’t make eye contact with SV once… I think the MW-SV relationship has cooled somewhat, no?

  17. Harvey Yates says:

    Up until this qualifying I would have said that the Cosworth, for all the hype, was down on power given the performance of all the teams running it.

    But this has been proved wrong with both Williams getting into Q3, on identical times, some 2/10ths behind a McLaren. And the same distance in front of the impressive Force Indias, not to mention more than two seconds clear of the next similarly powered car.

    So have Williams pulled a blinder or have they just got their act together?

    And I don’t want to knock the new 107% rule, or to cast doubts over Ferrari’s complaints, but the difference between fastest and slowest was less than 105% (subject to official confirmation): Kubica’s 1.38.132 and Senna’s 1.42.851.

    Have the times ever been this close before? (Cue F1 nerds rushing to their databases. I’ve already checked mine but without result.)

    Nice to see Hamilton being so honest about his 3rd place. I got emailed by a friend, an Alonso supporter, at the end of qually 3 which said: LH jammy. And then we got the man himself agreeing. His relief was quite endearing.

    I was caught, as a McLaren supporter, between irritation that he failed to get the best out of the car and sympathising with him. Irritation won.

    I guessed, like many, that the McLaren would out-perform the Mercedes this season. I did not reckon, and nor did the Merc decision-makers I bet, that they would struggle to get past the Force Indias.

    A remarkable season.

    1. Revilo says:

      Where you equally annoyed at Jenson for also not getting the most out of the car, or was it just Lewis.

    2. DC says:

      Nothing “jammy” about it…the others were simply not quick enough…LHs first lap was good enough for third…it’s up to his fellow racers to better it and they didn’t.

    3. Harvey Yates says:

      Revilo, DC:

      By way of explanation, I support a team rather than any particular driver. And that team is McLaren. I have a group of friends, somewhat denuded after the last couple of Mosley years unfortunately, who like nothing better than to gee-up one another. This is a weakness that I try to hold myself above.

      Except, that is, against the chap who supports Alonso who likes nothing better than to share his biased, faintly libellous, and ill-informed opinions of the McL drivers and car with me.

      I am not a Hamilton fan per se but I have to say I find his driving exciting. And I would follow his driving even if he wasn’t in the best designed and built car on the grid.

      Not only was LH’s lap a blinder, so early on as well, but his attempt at going faster had a logic to it that I can only admire. He had a real go at getting the McLaren on the front row despite the 3/10ths gap. It was as if he thought he’d rather try on the limit than just go for a few hundredths in order to secure third. The fact he failed is, to me, but not my Alonso supporting friend, of no real account. He tried. And good on him. That’s the sort of driving that brings the fans back for more.

      I’ve absolutely nothing against Button (or Alonso come to that, apart from what he did to McLaren). Although I misjudged his abilities, I was far from alone in that. He’s a couple of points behind LH in the WDC. One can’t argue against that.

      But what I liked about Hamilton today was his complete lack of pretence. He obviously thought that he’d put his third place at risk and was relieved that no one else (Alonso) topped his time. The feeling he must have had at turn 12(?) is one that many of us have experienced more than once in our lives. And we all must have empathised with his reaction in the interview.

      He seems to be really enjoying his driving this year.

      My irritation was with the fact that if he had got on the front row of the grid it would have been me who sent the scathing email. But it would have been completely unbiased, honest and provable. As they always are about the chap who was nowhere, nearly a second slower than LH’s ‘banker’ lap and merely the best of the rest.

      And in reality I’ve nothing against any driver. I just enjoy the sport and a gee-up.

  18. Andy says:

    I believe the Lotus’ times were a -second- and four tenths faster than those of Virgin cars. They are quite comfortably the fastest of the new teams.

  19. Bill Day says:

    Anybody know how they decided which Williams goes first on the grid?

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      The one to set time first.

    2. Mark Vincent says:

      Hulkenburg was first to set the time so takes precedence on the grid.

  20. Adil says:

    James,

    I have a curiosity question: If the two Williams had identical Q3 lap times, but Barrichello was faster in both Q1 and Q2, why doesn’t his time put him ahead of Hulkenberg on the grid?

    Cheers,

    Adil

    1. Anil says:

      I think it’s down to whoever set the time first (as the track was less ‘rubbered in’/slower when they set it). It sure is unusual for that to happen though. I think the last time 2 drivers set identical times in qualy was Jerez 97 where 3 drivers did it!

      1. Stuart fenton says:

        97 at jerez, wasn’t that for pole as well? a mental situation

      2. James Allen says:

        It was exactly that.

      3. F1ART says:

        Villeneuve
        Williams
        1’21.072

        Schumacher.MM
        Ferrari
        1’21.072

        Frentzenn
        Williams
        1’21.072

    2. Nando says:

      They used to give it to the person who set the time first.

  21. Rich C says:

    The 107% rule is just another fia knee-jerk reaction to ferrari’s whining about ppl being in their way.

    Its useless, silly, and so are they.

    1. David Turnedge says:

      So far this season only 6 cars would have DNQ’d with Hispania leading with 4 DNQs – 2 in the first race of the season, 1 at least due to mechanical gremlins. The other 2 cars were Alonson at Monaco and di Grassi for Virgin.

      Not exactly going to significantly change the season, is it Luca?

      1. James Allen says:

        Alonso would have been allowed in under 107% in Monaco because of his practice pace

    2. Tim says:

      It worked before it will again!

      …and more then just Ferrari are bitching.

  22. Michael S says:

    Great job Vettel!!!!! When Webber gets pole Vettel always praises him, but when Vettel gets pole Webber just seems cranky….. I would have thought Webber a nicer chap than that, but I guess not

    1. Harv says:

      What a ridiculous comment. Vettel might have praised Webber in the distant past, when being outqualified by him was rare (possibly the last time was Malaysia, if that). But since Webber started making a habit of it, there has been no praise whatsoever. And if he were inclined to give him praise, that would be out the window when he sees that ridiculously annoying overly arrogant “number 1″ finger celebrations. Have a look at the red bull racing website, to see the number of people who are totally over his ridiculous celebrations.

    2. Mr Squiggle says:

      I have some sympathy for your point, but I’ve also heard that in the past Vettel’s team would get some set-up tips from Webber’s car, and Vettel would then go out and pip Webber for pole, hence the thank you during the presso.

      It might be my inexperience in F1 watching, but I’d prefer to see Webber say ‘Congrats’ to the pole sitter whoever it is.

      Anyway, I’m seriously looking forward to this one -

  23. Malcom says:

    Carl 21, Lewis surely didn’t overdrive in Canada when he passed Alonso, for the win. James that mistake Lewis had made on his last run during Q3…..Do you think that Hamilton without that mistake, had a real chance of taking pole position?

  24. Vivek Krishna A says:

    James, could you enlighten me on how much of an advantage does the ‘blown diffuser’ give at this particular track, considering this is a low down-force circuit.
    I doubt either Ferrari are yet to streamline their version of Red-Bull exhausts or this track isn’t necessarily showing the advantages of having the RB exhausts.

    I have a doubt over its effectiveness in this track since the Ferrari was already competitive in similar conditions in Canada.

  25. The Ram says:

    Jenson Button better call it a number two role now. Pretty sure now, he won’t be bothering Hamilton at all, even though he never was.

    1. BeenDun says:

      Uh, Jenson has 106 pts and Lewis 109. I’d say we’re a long way from Jenson playing number 2.

    2. Pat M says:

      You don’t think when Button was leading Hamilton in the points that ‘bothered’ Lewis?

      1. The Ram says:

        He knew he was going through the gate when the “Big Dog” was preoccupied. Well now the Big dog is at the front of the yard and biting hard!

  26. Andy says:

    Ferrari seem to be putting a brave face on. I think they genuinely thought their new package was going to push them to the fore, especially after such a promising pratice.
    The Race may yet yield great results, but (between the lines) they seem to be a bit surprised about their relative position to Red Bull and McLaren.

  27. Chris Partridge says:

    Out of interest, is Mercedes allowed to sort the brake problems on Schumi’s car in parc ferme conditions overnight?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes if there is something broken

  28. Robert says:

    Anyone else spot Webber sat in the garage with intermediate tyres on? What was that all about?!

    2:36 remaining in Q1 if you want to see for youself.

    1. Prof Bolshaviks says:

      They stick on any old thing to keep the car off the floor. Just avoiding any chance of puncture or dirt on the tyres they want to use whilst sitting in the pit garage

    2. Kakashi says:

      Yes i spotted that as well… does anyone know the reason?

    3. Mikey says:

      I saw it but it’s not unusual, while the engineers are examining the tyres off the previous run and deciding what to use next time out (soft/hard, new/scuffed). I think Brundle explained it during a qualy session earlier this year. Notice there were no tyre warmers in use, so no intention of actually driving on intermediates.

  29. Ian Blackwell says:

    Good for Red Bull – they showed they still have the pace to be favorites at any race.

    If one is allowed one rant here one would mention how truly awful the Valencia circuit is. It appears that aesthetics have taken precedence over overtaking opportunities. Easily the worst gp on the calendar. Barcelona is a far, far better venue for the Spanish Grand Prix and I still can not fathom why we should endure two races in Spain, especially with the second one being so, so dull. With all due respect to our Spanish friends, Spain is not exactly the most important market in the world nor does Valencia (or Spain for that matter) have any great historical significance to motorsport. Back when we had two German races at least both circuits were excellent race tracks and the Nuburgring had genuine historical significance. In the unlikely event that Bernie cares about feedback …. anything but this! Bring Magny Cours back, or the Nuburgring, or Austria or even add a new country. *** Rant Over ***

  30. Tommo says:

    Buemi really is a quiet achiever isn’t he? I see good things in his future.

    James – offtopic, but you really need to get down to Codemasters stuidos and check out their F12010 game for Xbox/PS3/PC. It looks amazing.

    Chief game designer can be contacted at twitter.com/t4rg4

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks. They have invited me down a few times, I will try to make it soon

  31. Prof Bolshaviks says:

    Michael Schumacher back in 15 is not great, he said he can’t get his tyres working. I have noticed a few times this year, Nico tends to do an out lap and then a very slow flying lap and then goes for it, this worked especially well in Malaysia, michael tends to do an out lap and then go for it on his first flying lap.
    If Nico is getting more joy out of the tyres, should Michael not swallow his pride and try copying his team mate? He would surely have more success if he thought of nico as team leader and spent the time trying to emulate his success like a rookie would be doing. At least until he got on properly level terms consistently.

    1. Tim says:

      It actually is GREAT…MS is finding many things like a number of better drivers then he is…..different when one team is NOT built around yourself and you must compete on an even field.

  32. A wonderful qualIfy is by redbull achieve! The mistake by webber is made in the corner, otherwise perhaps his pole would be resulten.

    The Hamilton is create goodness everafter!! Quickness of the mclaren question? For button is like turtle at times.

    My frustrate? Mercedes! The upgrades must be follow by the quickness. for Schumacher is surely dimmed by his, vehicular integrity. A 7 time world champion becomes doomed . Unfortunate, !!!!

    Regers
    Mitsi

  33. mael says:

    Does anyone else just want to twist Vettel’s index finger off at the first knuckle whenever he finishes first at something?

    1. Mr Squiggle says:

      Yes – and I’ve thought of somewhere to put it after it snaps off in my hand :-)

  34. qk says:

    does webber have a f-duct on his car? did he use it..

  35. stephen says:

    Wonderful qualifying session,and Williams up there to,Ferrari appear to have edged closer yet not enough,certainly the soft tyre does not suit their car on low fuel,both drivers were struggling a little,i wonder whether the harder tyre would have been a better choice in Q3? Noticed to that Red Bull,s “F” duct is used in the same way as Ferrari,s,one hand off the wheel(or mostly).McLaren were very clever in designing this feature from the cars conception,its a shame next year this device is banned,to be replaced by KERS(again) and an ECU controlled rear wing.

  36. Faisal says:

    I know it’s too early to comment as the race is later on and we get a clear picture, Ferrari in general would be not so happy with their updates. They were specifically meant to move them up the order in qualifying which hasn’t really happened. Their race pace still seems great but without closing the gap in qualifying, they will not be getting what they need to stay in fight.

    P4/P5 cant be called as a bad position to start but with this routine, RBR boys will run away with the title by collecting big haul of points every race and McLaren will be taking points off Ferrari too as they are on par with them.

    Ferrari needs to get a bit aggressive in their approach. Making a car that suits racing conditions more than qualifying hasn’t paid off really well. Qualifying is the king this season. Yes we had some exciting races recently but very few races where top order shook under normal circumstances. If Ferrari want to take points off RBR, they need to up their game on Saturdays so they can be in a strong position for Sunday.

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