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Lewis Hamilton on pole for Chinese Grand Prix, Webber starts at the back
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Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Apr 2013   |  8:05 am GMT  |  449 comments

Lewis Hamilton took the first pole position of his Mercedes career in China with Kimi Raikkonen throwing down the gauntlet in second place and Fernando Alonso third.

Mark Webber stopped on track in Q2 with a fuel shortage issue and was sent to the back of the grid by stewards.

Given the tyre management abilities of Lotus, Raikkonen is in a strong position, although he has questioned whether the Lotus has the pace to win tomorrow. Whether he can make one less stop than his rivals and turn it to his advantage, time will tell. More likely it will mean that he can balance out the stint lengths better than his rivals.

Ferrari are well placed; they were arguably not as quick in qualifying as they had hoped to be, with Alonso third and Massa fifth, but Alonso said that he was very happy with the race set up and their long run performance in practice backs this up. They had good pace and less degradation than rivals.

Rosberg disappointed with fourth fastest time, four tenths slower than Hamilton, again struggling to deliver in the crucial part of qualifying.

It was Hamilton’s 27th career pole position on a track where he has won twice already and it was Mercedes’ second in a row in China. He took a gamble, going out quite late, but it worked out for them.

The last seven pole positions have been set by either Hamilton or Vettel. Raikkonen’s front row slot is his best qualifying result since his comeback.

It was a very strange Q3 session, with the top ten drivers not wanting to use up tyres, given the restrictions imposed by the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres. The cars only went out with a couple of minutes to go, to do one run.

Knowing they didn’t have a chance of pole, Vettel and Button went for the medium tyres with the intention of doing a different race strategy from the rest. It should make for a very interesting race. The cars starting on used soft tyres will need to pit very early, possibly within the first seven or eight laps.

Vettel had a problem with braking and locked a wheel, meaning Button ended up qualifying in front of him, eighth with Vettel ninth. Daniel Ricciardo did a very good lap to get seventh place.

On the warmest day of the weekend so far, the other major drama centred on Mark Webber once again, this time because the Australian stopped out on track with fuel issues. The team said it was a fuel pressure problem; he was instructed to save fuel on the way back to the pits and risked facing the same problem Lewis Hamilton had in Spain last year, where he was sent to the back of the grid for not being able to supply a fuel sample. The stewards duly penalised him and he will start from the back of the grid tomorrow.

In the Q1 session, the Mercedes led the way with Hamilton ahead of Rosberg and Massa, with Webber ahead of Alonso and Vettel. But the times were still not as fast as Massa’s best time from Friday FP2.

At the back, Bianchi did an outstanding first lap to go faster than the Toro Rosso pair, who found time on their second runs and made it through. Gutierrez and Bottas were dragged down into the drop zone. The late timing of his run left him no time for a second run.

In Q2 Webber stopped out on circuit, having been told to “save fuel” after setting what was the fifth fastest lap at that time. He ended up 14th.

“It’s a shame,” said Webber. “We had a fuel pressure problem and we are out of position. If you are not prepared right that’s what happens. I can move forward but how far we will find out. I found out 30 seconds before (that there was a problem).”

Team boss Christian Horner said, “Unfortunately in Q2 the amount of fuel that was required to be put into the car from the fuel rig was not fully delivered. This was due to an error with the fuel bowser that meant it under-delivered 3kg of fuel. Therefore on Mark’s in-lap we saw large drop outs in the fuel tank collector and the car unfortunately ran dry of fuel, which is obviously frustrating.”

It was a similar problem to the one Vettel suffered in Abu Dhabi last November, where he took the option to start from the pit lane and change his set up to help overtaking in the race with less wing and a longer 7th gear.

Team manager Jonathan Wheatley made a public radio message informing team principal Christian Horner that the fuel bowser had been quarantined.

Also in trouble was Sergio Perez, the McLaren driver falling out in Q2 half a second slower than Jenson Button. Both Force India’s disappointed with 11th and 13th places, but Di Resta has good strategy options for the race, starting just outside the top ten.

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo did a great job to get into Q3, as did Hulkenberg.

CHINESE GRAND PRIX, Shanghai, Qualifying
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.484s
2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m34.761s + 0.277
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.788s + 0.304
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.861s + 0.377
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.933s + 0.449
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m35.364s + 0.880
7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m35.998s + 1.514
8. Jenson Button McLaren 2m05.673s + 31.189
9. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull No Q3 time set
10. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber No Q3 time set

11. Paul di Resta Force India 1m36.287s + 1.209s
12. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m36.314s + 1.236s
13. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m36.405s + 1.327s
14. Mark Webber * Red Bull 1m36.679s + 1.601s
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m37.139s + 2.061s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m37.199s + 2.121s

17. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m37.769s + 1.976
18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m37.990s + 2.197
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m38.780s + 2.987
20. Max Chilton Marussia 1m39.537s + 3.744
21. Charles Pic Caterham 1m39.614s + 3.821
22. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m39.660s + 3.867

* Webber will start from the back of the grid

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  1. Seán Craddock says:

    Worst qualifying session I’ve ever seen! Nobody wanted to set a lap time until the last moment. Top ten shootout was a big anti-climax. Absolutely terrible. Even Q1 was quiet.

    Fair play to Lewis though. Credit where credit’s due

    1. Phil Too says:

      Agree 100%

      I’ve been pro-pirelli since they came into the sport but this is the straw breaking the camels back. What a complete and utter joke. Paul Hembry (sic) should be ashamed.

      1. Sebastian says:

        I think they are doing a great job. Keeping everybody on their toes. People were complaining about the lottery at the start of last year. At the end they said Pirelli were to conservative.

        History repeats itself… so don’t cry wolf ;)

      2. monsterFG says:

        It’s not Pirelli at fault it is FIA for allowing this circus to go on. Rules should be that anyone without competitive time set up would be starting form the back of the grid period.If you take the slower teams and impose 107 percent rule why the same rule isn’t imposed to top ten teams, yes they qualified for Q3 but not to sit out and save tyre or just limp around the track. They do not earn the spot on the grid by virtue of being top teams, wonder why others are not raising the issue or is it just convenient to blame Pirreli for everything. I’m not a fan of tyre’s being the single biggest factor in a race but still when comes to quali its not Pirreli’s fault.

      3. AndyFov says:

        Pirelli isn’t the problem, the problem’s in the rules.

        Teams need to be allowed enough tyres to negate any “we need to save fresh rubber for the race” mentality.

        Drivers should also be able to start the race on whatever tyre they want. The rule that makes them start on what they qualified on often puts the whoever failed to make Q3 on a better race strategy than the person in 8th, 9th, 10th.

        I accept the purpose of the rules is to mix things up to make the races less processional, but instances like today make me pity the fans that pay to see the qualifying.

      4. AndyFov says:

        Proposed new rule for Q3:

        Ten place grid penalty to any driver that fails to set a time within 2 seconds of pole… That’d spice the final session up.

      5. Simmo says:

        That rule wouldn’t work and would be unfair. It’s more simple than that – give them all an extra set of tyres to use in Q3, or don’t make them start on the used tyres.

      6. j says:

        @AndyFov 107% rule for all sessions. Button and Vettel should be put back to where they ended up in Q2.

      7. Dan says:

        Yes, of course it was much better when Schumacher won 10 races in a row without a single overtaking. I always fell in to a very good sleep!

      8. Schumilewis says:

        I think the quality of drivers around today would mean exciting races even if they has durable tyres, at least we would see races won by drivers and teams not the tyres!

      9. Craig Baker says:

        Dan, You could always go and watch Nascar. Plenty of on the edge, fast, close racing. Also where a good driver can make a difference to the result.

      10. F1 Badger says:

        I feel like there’s something wrong with me! I was sti enthralled during those years!!! That said a happy medium between then and now would be nice. It’s be good to see the drivers able to give 100%. Too many times a race is decided by tyre issues and not ability.

      11. Dan I don’t remember those days at all. I remember the Schumacher days as ones with generally very exciting races and championships (of course there was the odd exception in both cases). I remember seeing Montoya, Ralph Schumacher and Alonso hounding and often overtaking Schumacher for lap after lap after lap and on occasion managing to make a move stick and win the race.

        The only people look back with a bitter taste is because, despite championships often being close, Schumacher won 5 in a row.

        If Vettel wins the next two, even if just by a single point, people will look back on this era in exactly the same way. Except they’ll also remember that the racing was **** to go with it.

      12. Pete_from_Nepal says:

        Agree qualifying was boring as heck, but I think race tomorrow will see lots of position changes so it’s worth it IMHO…I may be wrong, but it might be good to reserve judgment till tmrw.

        Besides, not really Pirelli’s fault. They do what is asked to the best of their ability. Sometimes the weather and conditions change so even they are caught out like today.

      13. Quade says:

        Unfortunately, Pirelli carries the can. Even if the FIA gave them the wretched spec, as a tyre manufacturer with some pride in excellence, they should have rejected the idea outright. I would.

        It doesn’t say much for a top tyre manufacturer to accept a contract to produce painfully low quality stuff. However, Pirelli (not the FIA) immensely enjoys giving gleeful interviews about the shocking tyres, predicting pit stops and team strategies. Can anyone remember this from any other tyre manufacturer? Its sad really.
        Pirelli might feel the effects of the misadventure in their sales figures.

        Anyway, Pirelli is considering leaving the sport (giving a rather weak reason):
        http://www.yallaf1.com/2013/04/13/f1-contract-uncertainty-must-end-demand-pirelli/

        Whatever the politics behind the position of the FIA and Pirelli leading to Pirelly threatening to quit, but it will be good riddance.

      14. Stefanos says:

        It’s not Pirelli’s fault, it’s what the FIA have asked them to do (and a lot of people support), in order to mix things up a bit..

      15. Wayne says:

        Pirelli make the tyres.

      16. Yes it is their fault.

        “I was only following orders” is not an acceptable line of defence.

      17. Trent says:

        Criticising Pirelli is akin to criticising Tilke for the current generation of circuits. In other words, everyone loves to do it but it’s an emotional reaction rather than an intelligent analysis. They are fulfilling a brief, end of story.

        For what it’s worth, I loathed the Bridgestone days where tyre degredation was a concept that virtually didn’t exist.

        I would vote for Pirelli and the current racing any day. There are other ways to stop people sitting in the pits for the whole qualifying session.

    2. Wayne says:

      Huge congratulations to Pirelli for managing to ruin qualy for the people who paid fro a ticket and everyone watching at home. Get these numpties out of F1.

      1. Glennb says:

        I’m with you on that one Wayne. I want to see racing cars racing.

      2. me says:

        You want them out of F1 for doing what they have been asked to do. Arm and chair and expert are 3 words that come to mind.

      3. Wayne says:

        …… THEY chose the tyre compounds for the race this weekend and they did so deliberately.

        Yes, I do want them out, because Bridgestone etc would not be stupid enough to build a marketing plan on tyres that dissolve – so F1 would have to abandon this whole fascicle excuse for ‘racing’.

      4. Sebee says:

        Do you really hate these tires that much?

        In the past you had flaky engines, gear boxes, hydraulics.

        Today F1 is reliable and exact. These tires just add a variable drivers have to think about. To lament that could go faster with better tires is same as lamenting that they could go faster with v10 unlimited RPMs.

        You all seem to have conveniently and quickly forgotten quali engines and no on track action for 40 minutes out of the 60. Schumi coming out 53 minutes into the session, dropping a lap and claiming pole. That was your Saturday qualy experience back in 2000.

      5. Sebee says:

        Those by the way were days when James and company really earned their keep!

        Imagine commenting on all the action happening on the empty track for 40 or 50 minutes with everyone hiding in the garage. I think James once passed on his grandma’s Fish and Chips recipe during an Austria quali.

      6. James Allen says:

        And we got through everyone’s holiday photos!

      7. Wayne says:

        Yes, yes I do – that much. The engines thing doesn’t quite work. Unlimited v10s would, presumably, not be engineered to fail 10 laps into the race. Presumably, the engine supplier would not have a choice of engines available to them and then select the one most likely to fail on any driver who actually dared to drive fast for more than 10% of the race.

      8. Sebee says:

        Wayne,

        Don’t mean to pick on you Wayne but…

        You forgot quali engines designed to last….oh yes, around 10 laps. Chosen specifically for its power and lightness knowing full well it may fail any moment? Remember those? You forgot V10 RPM wars? Engines blowing up when pushed past 22000 I think it was? Give a driver 22,000 he will want 23,000. Give him 23,000 guess what he will want? Give him tires that last 10 laps he will ask for ones that last 15.

        There will always be limits. There will always be compromise. That is why I am still not able to buy a 4 door car that seats 5, is fastest on track yet can off road and tow my boat, and of course be convertible for when I’m just out with my girl on a warm evening. Compromise. Something on that wish list isn’t going to be satisfied.

      9. Mike J says:

        Seebee..No, like you, other people were around back then and do remember. But this is 2013 not 2000. Any engine or component now would be built to last 3 races or more.
        Problem is that Pirelli got it wrong. I agree its not Pirelli fault overall, they are building a tyre to a ‘bernie spec’ however, they all have enough data on the track and the cars to do better than that in quali.
        We have too many ‘gadgets’ now with DRS, KERS and ‘short life’ tyres (Obviously not a gadget!!). All i am trying to say is the balance is off. And the argument (not yours) that they will get it right by race 6/7 to me, is not the answer.

      10. “In the past you had flaky engines, gear boxes, hydraulics.”

        Because they were being pushed to the limits. By all means bring in another manufacturer and have a genuine tyre war where they are trying to get the FASTEST tyres that can also last for the LONGEST time.

        “You all seem to have conveniently and quickly forgotten quali engines and no on track action for 40 minutes out of the 60. Schumi coming out 53 minutes into the session, dropping a lap and claiming pole. That was your Saturday qualy experience back in 2000.”

        Yes and it was terrible. So it changed. First to single lap, which didn’t really work out. Then to the system we have now. Which has been, in general, working tremendously since it was introduced. Now the tyres are destroying the format.

        You’re argument appears to be that it was worse 14 years ago – so Pijelli, who entered the sport 3 years ago, can’t have possible done anything wrong. Or have I missed something?

      11. Nigel (USA) says:

        Lots of people making (IMO silly) comments about how this was all Pirelli’s fault. Pirelli just produced the tires they were asked for….

        Want to blame someone for boring quali? Blame the FIA. Although the race will be much more exciting now!

      12. Wayne says:

        Nope,Pirelli chose the compounds for this race. And it all depends on what you find exciting doesn’t it? Is it really exciting to watch an artificial situation with cars passing each other because of worn tyres? Personally, I think it’s exciting to watch the best drivers in the world on the limit for the race, plumes of tyre smoke, fire, brimstone and seat of your pant overtakes on the limit of adhesion.

      13. Seán Craddock says:

        I agree it’s not Pirelli’s fault, the FIA are the ones I’m annoyed with.

        The only thing Pirelli are doing wrong is putting up with the FIA’s demands IMO. The FIA say they want F1 to be more road car relevant, back when we had two tyre suppliers research was going into making tyres last which ultimately could go into road tyres

      14. aezy_doc says:

        Although I do admit that the decision for this race seems to be a bit baffling I have to say that it is exciting to watch cars on different strategies fight it out towards the end of a race. Senna and Mansell at Monaco ring a bell? Fact is tyres have always been part of the spectacle. There are grands prix in the past where a driver would be 30s or so behind, pit for new tyres and catch up in the closing laps. i would hate to go back to tyres so durable that after the first lap it’s all but decided.
        BTW Recent overtakes with the Pirelli tyres inc Webber v Alonso at Eau Rouge 2011 (seat of pants?) which is one of the best overtakes ever.

      15. Sebee says:

        So another words be it tires or fia for wanting them you are not happy with the result?

        Don’t you guys see that when tires are right youbare happy and when they are not it ends up being like a changing conditions race, only without the rain?

        Variety….that is what the tires give youm

        If I want to know the fastest sprinter I will watch 100m sprint. If I want to know the best all around athlete I will watch the decathlon. I want to know who is the best over the whole season. And it should not be 19 races with perfect conditions and everything to everyone’s liking. I want adversity to be overcome.

      16. Bob says:

        Weren’t Pirelli encouraged by Ecclestone/FOM to make the tires even more fragile than last year? There is this plan they think will create more exciting racing by having people’s tires go off; but in the end its artificial, teams just slow down and no one even pushes. Webber even said that on the podium last race.

      17. Yup this is essentially what happens at a race meeting:

        A team has two sub teams of engineers. They both collect as much data in the practice sessions to asses the optimum pace at which they can run to make the tyre last as long as possible.

        The driver is then told by the team target lap time, what speed to do each corner at etc.. assuming both drivers are as good as each other at following these instruction, it will be the driver who’s engineers have got the sums right who will have the potential to go furthest in the race.

      18. j says:

        Wayne you type this out from scratch or did you just copy & paste from the last race?

    3. Quercus says:

      I was gobsmacked to see that 30 seconds after the last session had closed, nobody had yet set a time! But it was still a fascinating session, though — perhaps more than ever before — the start positions are likely to be totally meaningless in terms of race results tomorrow. How times change.

    4. blackmamba says:

      These blasted tyres are ruining F1. Why can’t they just go back to last year’s tyres. They gave us great racing without the absurdity of this inability to last more than 5 laps.

      1. me says:

        “Why can’t they just go back to last year’s tyres. They gave us great racing without the absurdity of this inability to last more than 5 laps.”

        You have a short memory.

      2. Cliff says:

        The Teams worked them out and the status quo was resumed

      3. “They gave us great racing without the absurdity of this inability to last more than 5 laps”

        I don’t remember Bridgestones being on the cars last year?

      4. Spinodontosaurus says:

        In this case, your memory is better than it is when ‘remembering’ the processional Bridgestone era and tyre war era.

        That is what we would have now if the tyres were as they were back then. Which you people don’t want. When we had processional races everybody was screaming about how F1 is dying, but now suddenly it was a great age for F1.

        The last two seasons plus the first two races of this one (China was a dud) are, in terms of the racing, on a completely different excitement level to any other season in the 21st century, with 2010 being a slight exception.

        Stop crying.

    5. veeru says:

      well, you cant have both ways. You give the team better tires, they will put a show. You give them Pirelli tires, they will save them for the race

      yes, it was terrible. but we know why. Don’t we?

    6. Xman says:

      this comment shows how some really do prefer quantity instead of quality.

      The intensity which the waiting created due to the strategy play made this session a great showcase of the outright speed o these machines.

      Most of the runners used soft tyres all through the session with very low fuel. going for broke, feeling the limit.

      But each to their own and i understand your love for the plentiful, or you might call it excess. More running does not equal better sporting excitement or quality.

      i hope we do see theses types of sessions again. I guess we are all at the mercy of Pirellis choice of compound.

      1. Bring Back Murray says:

        Mate, one of the main championship contenders didn’t even bother to go out and go for a pole lap. This must be the first time in F1 history this has happened.

        Instead he preferred to cruise round in 9th to save his tyres. If that’s not substantially reducing the entertainment, I don’t know what is.

      2. Sebastian says:

        I think you are a bit short sighted. We’ll have great entertainment in the race. Different strategies will mix up the race.

      3. Timmay says:

        Correct

      4. Craig D says:

        I understand and agree with your point to some extent but we need to remember that nowadays qualifying and the race are linked; quali strategy directly affects your race strategy and therefore potentially your result.

        It looked bad to not see Vettel going for pole (not that I wanted him on it!) but if it results in an interesting and uncertain race narrative, I can live with it. And if Vettel comes though to win he’s not going to complain!

        Now if we want qualifying to be a solely a shoot out then it needs to be detached from the race, i.e. being able to change tyres for the race. On balance I like the inclusion of the strategic aspect and we don’t often get the top 10 going for differing strategies.

        The commentators were getting rather peeved with the waiting too but you could tell they became more excited when it transpired there would be different starting strategies for some of the front runners.

        So though I like the strategic aspect of qualifying, I agree it can’t be right for it to be better for some drivers to effectively not try. However you will always get a fight for pole. And if they’d all chosen to qualifying on primes then they all would have fought for the best position since they’d all be in the same boat.

        It’s one of those can’t have your cake and eat it I suppose. 10 years ago the excitement in F1 used to be all about qualifying and the first lap, with the race often a tedious procession. At least now the balance is more equal or race-centric in terms of excitement (for me personally at least). And we still do get some great qualifying sessions!

      5. Alex W says:

        Vettel was nowhere, that’s why he didn’t run, so you didn’t miss much.

        All of these complaints, I don’t remember anyone complain when 1 lap qualy was the rule a few years back!

      6. Rossco says:

        Actually its happened a few times for Vettel and Webber where they haven’t quite been on the pace.

      7. Sebee says:

        That is why he is the 3x WDC. Knows when to play it right. Massa should have done same.

        I was watching P3 and Button came on the radio and said he has no grip! It was a funny.

      8. Horno says:

        You could also blame RB for not putting a car on the track capabele of doing a timed lap, without damaging her tyres too much.
        -
        I liked the quali, it made think of the days, where you only had one flying lap, for quali..

      9. kfzmeister says:

        With the tires they mounted, he had zero chance at pole. He drove competitively until his 3rd sector, where he realized that it would make no difference. I agree with xman.
        Those that have favorite drivers with tire wear issues are now bitching about the Pirellis. Each team has the same tires and each team had equal amounts of time to prepare. Some did a better job and are in a better position.
        Let’s race.

      10. cos says:

        although I agree with you in part, Bring Back Murray…re your last paragraph…he decided to save his tyres …not to earn interest by transfering them to a high interest savings account but to use in the race tomorrow …ergo perhaps allowing him to challenge for a few places ergo making for an entertaining race tommorw….now as much as I miss the good old days of watching quali and then the race…you can’t blame teams/drivers for making (strategic ?? ) calls like this…unless I’m missing something in the rules which says this sort of thing isn’t allowed? One thing is for certain as much as I like LH and hope he wins, with Alonso and Kimi breathing down his neck at the start of the race he will be pushing hard to build up a good lead, but his tyres will be shot especially if he loses a place or two at the start and then has to play the “catch me if you tyres will let you” game.

        Either way tomorrow will be more entertaining than watching paint dry in a Spearmint Rhino Club ;)

      11. Wayne says:

        How does this theory work exactly? 20% of the top ten didn’t even bother setting a time! You want to see more of this?

        Perhaps you would prefer they all cruise round for 40 laps to build anticipation for the final ten laps of the race tomorrow too?

      12. Sebee says:

        Time for lottery drawn starting grid! :-)

        Marrusia on pole!!!

      13. Seán Craddock says:

        No you’re wrong, I’m all for quality. But what I just watched was not quality. Sitting in a garage for eight minutes of a ten minute session before leaving the garage to set a two minute lap – or no time at all – is not quality.

      14. andrew c says:

        I doubt you’d be saying the same thing if you had paid for a ticket to attend that session. It was a joke and you know it. Now for a race with the top drivers in the world driving at 70% to manage tyres. How fun.

      15. absolude says:

        Talking about quality… Where is the quality in the myriad of DRS passes?
        Or when after the rare pass without DRS the passed car darts in the pits, completely out of rubber?

      16. Quade says:

        DRS is under driver control and has to do with driving skill. The tyres are under 3rd party control on the other hand, thats what makes it artificial and annoying.

      17. Chuck Jones says:

        Good reply! Incidentally I am an ex f-1 team owner and my view will often seam a bit slanted. The one thing that a person must really understand is that Grand Prix is very, very, very complicated and is always operating on three or four different levels at the same time…. Throw in the individual character of owners, drivers, engineers, mechanics, suppliers and all others plus the absolute intensity of the sport both on and off the track, and that’s the mix you work with 24 hours a day.

      18. Bluefroggle says:

        Which F1 team did you own?

      19. Chuck Jones says:

        I was co co- owner of Team Ensign with Mo Nunn in the 70′s and 80′s……

      20. dean cassady says:

        Xman, I agree with you.
        After all, everybody has the same options before the clean sheet of paper, way back when, they started designing this year’s car; and everybody has the same tires now.

        I’m the spectacle across the entire weekend, and even across the entire season, but for right now, anybody in the top ten could win, somebody from outside the top ten might even win!
        We haven’t had this kind of volatility ever before!
        I like it!

      21. Chinmullet says:

        By definition, racing is primarily about going fast as the #1 priority, not babysitting tires.

        Pirelli has gone too far this year, and perhaps even last year.

    7. Tim W says:

      The crowd was booing in the grandstands!

      1. me says:

        Possibly those booing have no understanding of F1.

      2. rad_g says:

        Doesn’t surprise me, I didn’t even bother properly waking up for qualification.

      3. John TL says:

        They were not booing but cheerfully applauding and shouting for Kimi. You saw the mass of flags, blue-cross on-the-white?

    8. Guy says:

      I agree Sean. I feel sorry for the local fans who shelled out what I assume to be a months average wage to watch. Definitely not the way to win a new market. Let’s hope the race is better!

      1. me says:

        Blame those running the GP for the cost of tickets, nothing to do with the track action which was still interesting.

    9. bearforce1 says:

      Agreed horribly boring qualifying.

      The only thing that made it interesting was the decision by three of the top ten to run Mediums at the start.

      1. Javier Sanz says:

        What was so exciting about taking two minutes to do a lap?

    10. SRB says:

      I’ve witnessed worse before they introduced the top 10 shoot out!

    11. AlexD says:

      I do not think it is really correct. In the past we had super qualifying but exceptionally boring races. People were fighting for P1 because they knew this is likely the order they will finish the race. Today qualifying is not exciting and not so important, but we have great races. I prefer what we have today.

      1. Seán Craddock says:

        “I do not think it is really correct”

        It’s my opinion! It’s not meant to be correct

      2. AlexD says:

        so….yet another opinion, not even correct, so all good then:-)

    12. Bradley says:

      Solution seems simple: One extra set of new tyres for each session of qualifying you pass. Then give back the same number of old sets (obviously not including the one qualified on) after qualifying. Only issue is (tyre) cost.

    13. Robert says:

      Totally agree. I no longer bother attending for a Saturday. It is just too much money to pay for a ticket to see too little action.

      Sky TV costs me enough as it is.

      Good lap Lewis.

    14. dren says:

      I’m all for this than a procession race. The race should be very interesting. I enjoyed qualifying, much more down to the wire. It usually is boring and I fast forward. I’d rather have this than the 2005 USGP I attended. Pirelli have done an excellent job.

      1. Quade says:

        If all you do is fast-forward, then you should shed a tear or two for those who actually paid ticket prices, or even bought air tickets to be there.
        There are also fans to whom the fast-forward button is alien, fans who prefer to watch every second of an F1 weekend. This class of fan has been let down rather heavily by the tyre issues. It shouldn’t be more entertaining to watch free practice on Friday than quali on Saturday; thats just wrong.

      2. Seán Craddock says:

        +1

    15. 69bhp says:

      As Christian Horner might say – this is silly Pirelli, come on.

    16. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      This Pirelli-format F1 is like a soccer game where the coach decides to save the star goal-scorer during the match to avoid any injury or sprain regarding the finals and let him in only in the last 20 minutes to try to score and win marginally…

      I am sure it’s not gonna be popular among fans.

    17. Andrew Carter says:

      Now thats an exageration. I’ve seen much worse sessions back in the the one-at-a-time days and do you remember the old 1 hour/ 12 laps days when we’d spend 40 minutes waiting for the first Minardi to come out on track.

    18. Richard says:

      Yes most wanted to save three sets of medium tyres for the race, and since the soft was really only good for one fast lap in qualifying the result was really a foregone conclusion. Mercedes quite strong in China, and I hope they are able to take that form into the hotter climes of Bahrain.

  2. Quade says:

    Lewis on pole (although Rosberg was fastest).
    Whoever expected Kimi to be in the running? That was brilliant sandbagging from Lotus across the weeekend.

    1. Tim says:

      Rosberg fastest? How do you work that one out?

      1. KRB says:

        People, I think Quade was making a joke, against those who will always harp on if Rosberg bests Hamilton in any practice or qualifying session, even if it’s FP1 or Q1.

        Quade, way to drive up the comments on JA’s site!

      2. Quade says:

        True, thats what I did.

        Its always fascinating to read comments about how “Rosberg was faster,” when its Lewis who ends up a position or two ahead in the grid line-up.

        Its the new psychadelic stuff! We sort of take any Rosberg position had in free practice and project that unto quali and the race proper. Its illogical, consists of voodoo… But hey!

        The sad thing is that Rosberg is actually one of the fastest F1 drivers and such “religious” comments devalue his true talent and personality.

      3. Tealeaf says:

        He probably meant Nico was fastest on race pace or somthing, that little mistake probably cost him a front row but not pole, but Ferrari are sitting nicely, we all know how fat Fernando’s starts are and also I think their race pace is faster than Mercedes, Lotus and Kimi are good on their tyres and very consistent, I doubt Redbull made the right choice we’ll see it looked like Vettel could have beaten the Ferraris and maybe the front row they are compromised now.

      4. Quade says:

        Yes, Nico was fastest on race pace. I think he won.

      5. hero_was_senna says:

        I’d imagine he’s been reading from Eddie Jordan notes. Did anyone else notice he called Lauda “Midas”!
        Unreal, he’s been there 5 minutes yet is given credit for turnaround…

    2. Paige says:

      By what stretch of the imagination was Rosberg fastest? Hamilton beat him in all three sessions with a consistent 2-4 tenth advantage. The day has clearly belonged to Hamilton.

      I think Lotus could be in the catbird’s seat for tomorrow if they still have their race pace advantage from Australia. But the Merc looks good this weekend.

    3. djr says:

      Lewis on pole, but Rosberg fastest. Its always the fastest thats on pole i thought. Are you finding it difficult to give Hamilton a little credit? It matters when it counts, and thats what you get with drivers like Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel. They do the biz when they have to.

    4. matthew says:

      how was nico fastest?lewis was quicker in q1,q2 and q3.

    5. Wayne says:

      ‘although Rosberg was fastest’ ????? One thing I can say for sure is that Lewis was fastest, the clue is in that he is on pole.

    6. alexyoong says:

      What were Lotus’ long runs like in practice compared to Mercedes and Ferrari? And what about wear rates?

      Raikkonen may have a problem holding Alonso back at the start- I think Alonso should seriously be considered for the win.

      Also, why is Grosjean having these problems with the car? He was decent in qualy last year.

      1. Quade says:

        Kimi and Lewis had the best long runs, but Massa showed quite decent turn of pace as well.

      2. Sebastian says:

        I looked at the lap times posted by FIA and the long runs didn’t look too bad. Loosing a second over eight laps on medium. About the same as the top teams from what I can see.

        I think the big difference RAI vs GRO is that Kimi has stepped up his game. Last year he was admitting a lot of mistakes in qualy, but this year he seems to be more on it.

      3. KimiFan says:

        during the first 6 races kimi was complaining of power steering problems

      4. Anne says:

        On Friday Lotus was not doing much. I guess they had some problem and they fixed it so Raikkonen ended up in P2. However Raikkonen was complaning about lack of downforce. When it comes to tyres Lotus has a better management. Their tyres last longer than Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes and Ferrari seem to be better when it comes to pace in the long runs.

    7. Richardd says:

      We, the fans are losing out because of these tyres, Pirelli must really find the balance between entertaining races and having tyres that you ‘drive like you’re on raw eggs’

      1. SaScha says:

        most pevese thing will be, if Hamilton or the others in the top 6 get puished for going flat out at Q3 in the race.
        Hamilton drove a perfect lap today, but it could be his downfall tomorrow. what a idiotic thing this would be!

    8. Richardd says:

      When was Rosberg fastest??

      1. John TL says:

        Last year 2012 :o)

    9. Wheels says:

      Hello, Quade!

      So, whose timing sheet were you reading…? From what I observed, Hamilton was fastest all day, today, including qualifying–when it really counts! I have to admit, I get a good chuckle out of Lewis. Cause’ I’m quite glad i wasn’t silly enough not to jump on his bandwagon way back in the day–Euro F3, and especially GP2….

      His talent and speed astound me, and the situation at Mercedes, this season, reminds me of Button vs. Hamilton at McLaren.

      Rosberg (like Button) will seem to be pushing Lewis to an extreme during practice, for Hamilton to then turn on the after-burners and blitz his Teammate in qualifying–again, when the money’s on the table! In fact that’s what Jenson said will stun and unsettle Nico–Lewis’ qualifying pace!

      Still it’s early days, yet, and Nico’s a very good Grand Prix driver, who will keep Lewis on his toes. I, personally, consider Rosberg a, long shot, dark horse for the F1 World Championship this season.

      Turning to the Chinese GP, I’m looking for, perhaps, Räikkönen to win, (positive tire wear) with Alonso and Hamilton pushing Kimi (possible tire problems) and Massa also in the mix…. Vettel might be a little too far back!

      I’ve also got a question, for the petrol heads out there…? Bianchi vs. Bottas?

      I’m much more impressed with Bianchi, so far, who I think has done more with the chassis under his seat…. Bottas has done pretty well against Maldonado, but has not quite lived up to the hype, so far, and is obviously struggling at times with his Williams (not a god car).

      Bianchi has come out of the box, with startling speed and race craft,(in a Marussia!). For a, fairly raw, rookie Jules looks like, very much, the coming Grand Prix star! What do you guys/gals think?

      1. Quade says:

        Bianchi vs. Bottas? Thats easy, Bianchi.

        There is a possibilty that he might not be much when placed in a decent team with a goodish team mate. Its easy to shine in a team like Marussia. Still, thats a long shot and Bianchi is really impressing right now.

      2. Sebastian says:

        Bianchi is awesome! And consistently so. He’s doing a Kobayashi, hitting the ground running and just ready to take off!

      3. JohnBt says:

        Bianchi has come out of the box, with startling speed and race craft,(in a Marussia!). For a, fairly raw, rookie Jules looks like, very much, the coming Grand Prix star! What do you guys/gals think?

        I agree.

      4. Elie says:

        I said he looked the goods in the young driver test last nov in Abu Dhab. the guy was always inmediately quick in every F1 car- I could not believe the doubters – even seasoned observers. hes a definitie star and should be in a top team next year.

      5. Random 79 says:

        +1

        Before the season everyone (hyperbole) was talking about how good Bottas was going to be, while there were a few nay-sayers concerning Bianchi.

        Strange how things turn out sometimes… :)

      6. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Hi Wheels,

        At this stage, given the data available, one can only really say Bianchi.

        They are however 2 races into their respective F1 careers.

        I think perhaps Max Chilton might be flattering Bianchi a bit, where as Maldonado has 2 seasons and good one lap pace.

        But I take your point. Bianchi had put himself on most people’s radar. Bottas has not. Monaco qualifying will be interesting.

      7. Wheels says:

        Now, you’re talking Scuderia!

        Ah, Monaco, my favorite Grand Prix!

        I get excited this, time of year, in anticipation of that race, and the Grand Prix circus’ coming to Europe (Spanish Grand Prix)

        Although a ways off, yet, I’ll stick my neck out and say Monaco qualifying is looking like a real lottery at this point.

        Alonso, Hamilton, Roberg, Vettel, Räikkönen, Webber, Massa…. Even, Grosjean, Sutil, Button, Di Resta and Hulkeberg all in with a shot.

        And might I say, absolutely, not necessarily, at all in the order given, here….

    10. fursty ferret says:

      Wow id love to drive for you if you were a team boss, im 4ths slower than my team mate, but you think im quicker, any way on to the race I think its kimis or alonsos to win

    11. Daniel M says:

      Rosberg was 4th fastest actually. Lap times when it counts don’t lie.

    12. blackmamba says:

      If Rosberg was fastest then he would surely have been on pole. Instead he starts 4th. I don’t know where people suddenly get this idea that he is a great qualifier. Well, he is not judging by a sole pole since he came into F1 in 2006.

    13. veeru says:

      sandbagging or inconsistent? :)

    14. Rich G says:

      Sector times for Rosberg:
      24.8 28.3 41.6

      Sector times for Hamilton:
      24.7 28.2 41.3

      I fail to see where Rosberg was fastest.

    15. Candice says:

      not really. Kimi said the car was difficult to setup all weekend.

      ANd the lack of df on middle sector cost them alot.

      Kimi ‘s stunning 1st sector put him in hunt for front row position.

    16. Anon says:

      Of course, that’s why he qualified 4th and the qualifying record between Lewis and Nico stands at 3-0.

    17. Scuderia McLaren says:

      Rosberg was fastest??? Um, by what measure?

      1. Pete says:

        Speed trap maybe? Only thing I can think of.

      2. aveli says:

        if you know that what he says is nit true, why do you all react to it? it’s obvious he wanted your attention.

    18. Bring Back Murray says:

      Are you talking about the journey on the way into the circuit?

    19. yassin says:

      May be set up issue than sandbag, Roman’s qulai was very poor.

    20. John Mc says:

      Sandbagging? Nah. Kimi was making adjustments to his setup between sessions as he wasn’t happy and managed to improve it, plus he nailed a brilliant lap in Q3.

      Unlike Hamilton though, Kimi doesn’t pat himself on the back when he does well.

  3. Paige says:

    The signs seem to be pointing to a Mercedes victory. They found one-lap pace on the soft tire in qualifying, and as James reported yesterday, they were by far the fastest on the medium tire. If Hamilton gets away with a good start and keeps Alonso behind him, he could be in for a win.

    Something tells me, though, that Raikkonen has an advantage for tomorrow. He squeezed out a great Q3 lap, and if Lotus has more race pace magic like they had in Australia, we could be looking at another Raikkonen runaway.

    1. Richard says:

      I hope Hamilton can convert his pole position into a win. The Lotus car is very good on softs, but not so good on the medium tyre so we will have to see how all the strategies and tyre usage works out in the race.

    2. KRB says:

      Don’t remember JA saying they were “by far” the fastest on the medium tire. I think it was extremely close.

      Lotus looks good on the soft. We’ll have to see what the lap time difference is to those running the soft versus those like Button, Vettel and Hulk running the mediums. If they can only manage 7 laps out of them, then that’s likely not enough time to clear the medium starters. I suppose if they’re a second a lap faster, then perhaps normal first-laps grid spread could make it possible, though only for the leaders.

      1. Paige says:

        “Mercedes had been the clear pace setters on the medium tyres in the morning and at the start of the second session.”

        OK, so they weren’t “by far” the fastest on the mediums. They were just “clearly” the fastest on the mediums. ;)

        http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2013/04/felipe-massa-sets-the-pace-in-shanghai/

      2. KRB says:

        Didn’t pan out that way in the race, though, did it? We have to take the times in any stint in practice as a whole. While Merc might have had the fastest lap time on the mediums, their deg with them was higher than both Ferrari and Lotus, so they were behind them over the entire run.

    3. Bring Back Murray says:

      Hamilton VS Raikkonnen battle. Can’t wait for the race.

      1. Deeno says:

        Although, if I was Hamilton I would also be worried of the red Ferarri Alonso off the start tomorrow.

        In all three races Alsonso has climbed a few positions.

        I think its Ham vs Rai vs Alo.

      2. matthew says:

        yep we have seen some great battles between them in the past.but i dont think these tyres allow battles like that unfortunatly.itll destroy them very quickly.

      3. Dalton says:

        Pretty short sighted conclusion based on Ferrari’s starts and their superior pace to Mercedes on full tanks. Hamilton will have to stop first and Alonso and Raikkonen will go longer. Alonso is very well placed to win in Shanghai.

      4. Dalton says:

        RIGHT ON ALL ACCOUNTS!!!!!!!

      5. Baktru says:

        You clearly nailed that one :)

    4. dren says:

      Hamilton’s biggest threat will be Alonso’s excellent starts.

    5. Observer says:

      I would predict Alonso vs. Kimi battle for the win.

  4. Random 79 says:

    Well done to Hamilton, Räikkönen & Alonso, and also a big well done to Ricciardo :)

    Webber: All I can say is oh dear (which is a very polite euphemism for a bunch of asterisks)

    Disappointing, but here’s hoping he still has a good race :)

    1. tara_185 says:

      Agreed

      I’d love it if this was the race podium…kimi and Hamilton swapped of course ;)

      1. Random 79 says:

        Yeah, I’m a bit partial to Kimi, but he’s already had a win and it would be great to see Hamilton take one with Mercedes and prove a few people wrong (including myself).

        May the best man win! :)

    2. KRB says:

      Webber excluded from qualifying; will start P22 or pit lane.

      1. Anne says:

        Good point. Is still legal to start from the pit lane when the rule has been changed? So far from what I read he is starting in P22

    3. Jeff says:

      Yeah right. The fuel problem with Mark’s car wasn’t a deliberate ploy by the team to keep Mark in his place and out of their golden boy’s way.

      And if you believe that, I’ve got some great beachfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you!

    4. Simmo says:

      Webber went from 18th to 3rd a few years ago, so he’s got every chance of a points finish :)

  5. Kit says:

    Is this the first time two Marrusia/Virgin cars qualified ahead of the Caterhams/Team Lotus?

    Well done Jules and Max!

    1. alexyoong says:

      I believe it’s the first time Max has out-qualified both Caterhams. But, still a sizeable gap to the impressive Bianchi, who is becoming reminiscent of Alonso in the ’01 Minardi (which, by the way, with its alligator nose and dark paint job, was one of the most decent looking cars for many a year, I thought). It also wasn’t too slow for a Minardi- I remember it challenging the Benettons on occasion. Anyway, I divert…

    2. KRB says:

      Dunno about last year, but they already did it at Melbourne this year.

    3. Peter C says:

      That’ll teach Caterham to dump Heikki Kovalainen (or Petrov for that matter)& employ a couple of youngsters with no real F1 experience.

      Perhaps Tony Fernandes is looking a long way into the future, as he MAY be with QPR.

      1. Simmo says:

        +1. Terrible mistake – one they should have learnt from, when Toro Rosso did it last year.

  6. John T says:

    For a moment there I thought Kimi said the cap was too big. Anyway, hopefully Lotus and Mercedes can make those tyres last a decent number of laps and it could be an intriguing race.

  7. Galapago555 says:

    Fantastic job by Hamilton, not sure if he will be able to keep on the front tomorrow on race conditions. He said front tyres were wearing too quickly.

    Amazing to see Kimi again in the front line. It will be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow on the 1st corner.

    And what about the Team That Does Not Have A Fav Driver? Still waiting for an explanation on what they did to Mark. I don’t want to figure out what all the haters around would post here if Felipe Massa run out of fuel during Q2…

    Well, to be honest, I do want to imagine it. It’s funny.

    1. Wayne says:

      One thing is for sure, there is no way RBR short fuelled WEB deliberately. But another thing is for sure, it could not have happened at a worse time for the team.

      1. [MISTER] says:

        I don’t think either, but it does make you think about it…
        This would be one way to take Webber out of Vettel’s way at least for a while until the spirits calm down. Worst timing possible!

        I wonder what all those anti-Alonso fans would’ve said if this would’ve happened to Massa…

    2. KRB says:

      Yeah, something weird going on there with Webber. More F1 drama.

    3. El Checo says:

      Before anyone says team conspiracy stuff sounds too far fetched….remember, Renault team boss Flav ordered a driver to crash a multi-million dollar car to help the other driver win.

      Now that would’ve seemed like far fetched conspiracy stuff if they hadn’t been caught!

      But the amount of these little niggles that put Webber on the backfoot just seem far too frequent.

    4. Glennb says:

      There is/was nothing to be gained by short fueling Mark. It has to be a mechanical error with the bowser as they stated. As stated above, it could not have come at a worse time for the team. Hopefully we’ll get to see work his way up thru the field tomorrow. It should add to the spectacle.

    5. 69bhp says:

      Well they did it to Seb last year at Abu Dhabi. At a critical point in the championship battle no less. So you can’t say they aren’t even handed.

    6. W Johnson says:

      That’s one way for Redbull to separate Vettel and Weber without calling the Multi 21 team orders.

    7. rafa says:

      yeah I can think of a couple of guys that haven´t shown up to comment today..

    8. Observer says:

      Hehe, I imagine a scenario at Red Bull after Q1 “oh crap, Mark was faster than Seb, we must do something about it…” Its an interesting thought, eh?

      1. Galapago555 says:

        I have read that Ferrari intentionally lost Felipe’s shot at third place in Oz just to put Fernando ahead of him.

        Interesting thought as well…

      2. aezy_doc says:

        No. It’s a ridiculous thought. Red Bull (or any other team) will not throw money down the toilet – Winning the Constructors is where the money is at. All of these conspiracy theorists drive me insane.

      3. Alex W says:

        Constructors money is pocket change to D.M. Selling Red Bull @1200% markup on cost, based on clever marketing, is where the money is at. Drama is the cheapest advertising, what is happening at RBR now is worth more in worldwide sales than the constructors ever will be!

      4. Craig Baker says:

        I’d say the reason Mark was quicker than Seb in Q1 was probably because he was at least 3kg lighter on fuel. ;)

    9. PB says:

      Certainly sounds like one of Helmut Marko’s plans…payback for Webber’s doings in the last race…i hope that’s not true, but how can we forget Singapore, Renault and Mr. Briatore…

      1. PB says:

        Honestly, I’m very much looking forward to Mark’s biography/autobiography when, inevitably, it is released…

  8. Rob says:

    Hamilton was the key difference at McLaren… no doubt now.

    Perez must be the biggest joke in F1… to be beaten by Button is a sure sign that you don’t belong in F1…

    Button is losing about 7 tenths of the car performance per lap…

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Rob why did McLaren hire Perez in the first place. It seemed a very rushed decision.

      A world class (well until recently world class) team HAS to have at least one top quality driver driving for them.

      Was there no-one else? They should have broken the bank to get somebody.

      I’m losing a lot of respect for this team at the moment.

      1. Anne says:

        McLaren didn´t hire Perez for his talent. He was hired for his sponsor. There were better drivers available but with empty pockets. And on top of that they didn´t do a good job building the car this year. At least they are a vindication for Montzemolo. He refused to rush and hire Perez to replace Massa

      2. rad_g says:

        Is it possible that mclaren is one of the teams Ron Dennis was talking about not so long ago?

      3. Sebastian says:

        I am hoping Perez ups his game. HE seems like a great guy.

        But for sure Kobayashi was the better driver at Sauber. Unfortunately some contrary tire strategies due to poor qualifying made Perez look better than he was. I think Kobayashi would have given Button a better run for his money.

      4. Gareth says:

        Dont really agree with those comments about Button, he did perform miracles in the Honda. Never rated Perez, too much too soon

      5. Dave Aston says:

        I think they chose to spite their face.

      6. Cliff says:

        “breaking the bank” when you know that you have to start paying for engines, is that really a good business decision?

      7. Andrew M says:

        They hired Perez because they wanted to give the impression that they were in control of the situation, and that losing Lewis wasn’t that big a deal. To be fair, I probably would have hired Perez at the time, but would definitely have hired Hulkenburg at the season’s end. It’s early days of course, and the car isn’t exactly flattering, but it doesn’t look like he belongs in a top team yet; he might go the way of Heikki…

      8. dren says:

        Perez was available and will bring sponsorship. Vodafone is leaving Mclaren, they are in need of a major sponsor.

      9. Richard says:

        Personally I think Di Resta would have been a better choice than Perez, and I agree it was a bit of a knee jerk reaction to Lewis leaving McLaren. I’m glad things at Mercedes is working out for Lewis as he deserves a bit of luck rather than spend his career in a succession of nearly cars. I think Mercedes are deadly serious about their intentions and it’s lightly Ross will steer them to success this year.

    2. KRB says:

      7 tenths?!? That’s overly harsh. I think Hamilton could be three-tenths faster than Button consistently, maybe four-tenths on a longer lap like China.

      We have to give Perez some slack, it’s a new team, etc. I think it’s clear he’s not in that top tier of drivers, who can be up to speed quickly in whatever team they’re with. Maybe let’s judge him this year on the last 12 races of the year, and how he fares against Button.

      1. Elie says:

        Perez is a class driver and will be quicker than Button in the second half. The MP4-28 is a complex car and will need time to sort out.

    3. Craig D says:

      I don’t recall Hamilton beating Button in quali by 7 tents each race. It was more like 2 or 3 and race wise they tended to be similar on average.

    4. matthew says:

      yes at the moment perez looks weak.he was a bad choice to replace lewis,and i dont think he’ll ever be good enough for mclaren.BUT,i think he can do better than what we’ve seen.he needs time to settle in,just like lewis does at merc.

    5. [MISTER] says:

      It seems LDM at Ferrari was right to say Perez doesn’t have enough experience yet.

    6. aveli says:

      button is a very very good driver by the way, a world champion with 13 years f1 experience to boot and perez is only in his 3rd season.
      not fair to compare hamilton with perez.

    7. Tealeaf says:

      There was plenty of times Jenson was only a tenth or so behind Hamilton and on occasions much faster like in Suzuka and Spa last year so I don’t know where you got all that from, even on average over 3 years of mainly poor qualifying he was only a net 0.3 behind Hamilton, the difference is this car not working but its getting there, and Perez is a pay driver and also not a good qualifier, I knew people like you will be jumping up and down when Hamilton gets a pole, hardly surprising they locked out the front row last season hell even Schumi got pole at Monaco in a much worse car than this 1 with the cheat suspension, reminds me of the double diffuser. Good luck in the race Lewis you’ll need it just to make the podium.

      1. KRB says:

        I think your well wishes provided Hamilton with that last three-tenths in the race, that helped ensure the podium place. So thank you.

    8. Carl Craven says:

      This kind of comment really isn’t necessary is it. It’s just not true. It doesn’t even need qualifying. Mclaren with their history don’t employ people like Button without reason. While the choice of Perez might seem rushed it’s still early days for him too.

    9. Andrew J says:

      How do you know he’s losing 7 tenths? Have you driven the car? Has someone else driven the car and set a faster benchmark?

      It’s a new car, unlike those of the drivers he’s competing against, which are evolutions. Even the team admit it’s not on the money yet.

    10. dean cassady says:

      don’t be so sure about Perez.

    11. Alexander Supertramp says:

      Perez is definitely underperforming at the moment. Losing the quali-battle against Jenson is one thing, but the margin is just to damn high if you consider Jenson’s quali-pace. Also, frikkin’ ridiculous that Jenson is not running properly in Q3. This is unacceptable for a team like Mclaren. There needs to be someone who has the balls to roar and get everyone on his toes asap. The way Mclaren has been handling recent issues is just a joke!

      1. Craig D says:

        I don’t understand your comment about Jenson not running properly in Q3? I assume you refer to this race, in which case it was a strategic decision. He likely wouldn’t have been better than 6th so starting 8th on a better race tyre could prove beneficial when it comes to what matters, points at the end of the race.

    12. gollino says:

      Within 2 years Perez will be on a “pay drive” team.

  9. Tom says:

    After all the heat Lewis got for signing with Mercedes last year, he certainly seems to have made the right decision after all…

    1. Uh says:

      Not really. Mercedes always starts a season competitive and then drops the ball after 6-7 races and fights with Force India for the rest of the season. Because Mercedes cannot develop as fast as the other top teams.

      Same will be this season, just watch.

      1. dean cassady says:

        Uhh…. uh you’re going to be wrong, this year.
        Mercedes cannot afford to NOT do well in Formula One; it as simple as that.
        By this time, the brains of the operation will have LONG SINCE understood the importance of development capability, that it why they are overloaded with development guys.
        But this year, it looks like they’ve got the operational processes in place to be able to deliver.
        Right now, my crystal ball show Mercedes as the closest to a world championship.

      2. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Neither could Toyota and Ford/Jaguar and Honda. They all could AFFORD not to do well in F1 either. That fact didnt stop them completely failing.

    2. Deeno says:

      +1

      And all those who critisized him are VERY quiet now…
      OOPS I just heard a pin drop.
      But then again even some professionals got their predictions about him wrong.

    3. 69bhp says:

      Absolutely! All the pundits should now line up and fall on their swords.

    4. aveli says:

      he is a natural born competitor and he knows how to make the best decisions especially concerned with racing. he is more competitive than any f1 team principal / owner.

    5. dean cassady says:

      hindsight 20:20; …

    6. I will says:

      Not the right decision, it is a very WISE decision only very rare people can make.

    7. VP of Common Sense says:

      It looks good after 3 GP. Let’s see after 19 GP.

  10. goferet says:

    Ha, the saga continues.

    Yeah, congrats to Lewis on his first pole for the team, apparently he was struggling with the brakes and after practice 2, he made the necessarily changes and voilà.

    Also good to see Kimi up there, he sure came out of the blue and luckily for the iceman, Sutil made it through Q1, or else he might have been looking at another grid penalty.

    Alonso in third place and an explosive starting car looks dangerous and yes, congrats to him too for getting one over Massa.

    As for Webber, well, it’s very ironic after what happened in the past couple of days, hopefully he will have a great race with a medium tyres.

    I for one haven’t got any issue with the drivers that didn’t set a competitive time for it gives us a great strategy battle to look forward to tomorrow.

    Lastly, great work by Riccardo, Button and Hulkenberg too >>> totally out performed their teammates.

    P.s.

    I think today was a record, even in Q1, the slower teams were apprehensive >>> #interestingtimes

    1. Sebastian says:

      Did anybody see what happened betweem RAI and SUT. Sutil has a track record of poor judgement so him being upset is hardly a sign of any wrong doing…

    2. Quade says:

      I don’t think an explosive start would do Alonso any good, not with the chewing gum tyres.

  11. dufus says:

    I just drove a few laps with the PC game F2012.
    As i’m getting passed by everyone because i’m using a keyboard and not a steering wheel i couldn’t help but wonder if Mark Webber feels the same kind of handicap.

    1. me says:

      Doubtful, he’s not so limited by ability.

    2. [MISTER] says:

      LOL!
      You put a smile on my face. Thank you!
      I was actually happy that Mark managed a good start last race, but seems we are back to see him having all kinds of issues..

    3. mhilgtx says:

      HAHAHA After last race I set Mark as my rival. Funny thing he just ran out of fuel in Japan and I was able to beat him again. On to RBR for next season!!!!!!!!

    4. aezy_doc says:

      So that’s it… Mark uses a keyboard not a steering wheel! Man, they give Vettel all the upgrades.

  12. Mohamed says:

    Well done to Hamilton and Mercedes. It would really be interesting to know the value split between a car and the driver. Hamilton was supposed to wean himself into his new car and Rosberg expected to take the lead initially.However Hamilton has come through on qualifications better. Hence I place the driver higher on the value scale in comparison to the car.

    1. Richard says:

      Actually you’re wrong! I reckon it is about 80% car 20% driver because without a decent car with the right setup no driver in these aerodynamically lead times would stand a chance. On top of that tyre management is the key thing since Pirelli started supplying, and it is obviously the driver that looks after the tyres providing the car allows it, but also it is the team strategists that work out how best to use them.

    2. alexyoong says:

      Hamilton is a seriously impressive driver. 2007, 2013, no sign of letting his new status in a team effect him.

      Now I come to consider it, Hamilton’s 2007 really was the most impressive rookie campaign I can think of.

      PS Despite the fact I am a Button supporter

      1. CanadaGP says:

        Having watched F1 for 45 years, Hamilton in 2007 was by far the most impressive rookie campaign. Whoever is second is not even close. This coming from someone who is not a Lewis fan. Even his WDC year of 2008 was a decline.

  13. LiamC says:

    Mark under fuelled? Didn’t see that coming…

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      He seems to be moving into a kind of Barrichello position at the moment.

    2. Glenn says:

      Didn’t Bernie say last week that when he was a team manager, he ordered a car to be under fuelled when the driver refused to follow team orders??? Just a coincidence i’m sure…..

    3. AuraF1 says:

      Never let Marko near the refuelling rig ;)

    4. Mitori says:

      Dr Marko at the pump? ;-)

    5. gollino says:

      They wanted to keep him away from troubles.

  14. Anne says:

    That is exactly the podium I wanted to see. :)

    But the race tomorrow is a whole different story. I´m hoping for and exciting and peacefull race

    1. dean cassady says:

      Exciting because of the absence of peacefulness, is more likely.

      1. Anne says:

        Well I don´t know about you.But I want a race not an episode of Game Of Thrones

  15. Irish con says:

    Kimi on a 2 stop versus Fernando and Lewis on a 3 anyone?

    1. Anne says:

      But pace also counts. And Mercedes looks better in medium and than Lotus in this track. I don´t know about Ferrari. I mean they also have good pace but I don´t know if that is going to be enough

    2. Richard says:

      I doubt it because there is still a question mark of how good the Lotus is on the medium compound. Early indications were that it was significantly less good than on the softs so I expect the cars like Mercedes and Ferrari to be quick on the medium compound, and watch out for Vettel once the first round of pit stops have been made. Unlike qualifying it’s going to be an interesting race.

    3. Stephen Taylor says:

      kimi on a 1 stop with the rest of the Top 8 3 stopping. Who Knows?

      1. Anne says:

        Impossible the mediums last about 20 laps. In the case of Kimi they could last a little more but he needs more than 1 stop

    4. dean cassady says:

      Could be, but there are so many variables and different strategic approaches.
      Nobody has mentioned ‘the weather’.

    5. alexyoong says:

      Here’s hoping

  16. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Happy for Hamilton, confirming he did a good move from McLaren…

    Red Bull seems to lose ground this weekend, and points.

    With these results, how Merc can remove Brown at the end of the year?

    Why Kimi was so nervous on TV after qualify?

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Re line 3, I’m not sure but Brawn they might have trouble with :-)

    2. Sebastian says:

      I think it looked like he was holding back a really big smile… but maybe it is wishful thinking…

    3. KimiFan says:

      because he is not confident with the speed of the car, he said they lack downforce through sector 2 and he feels his qualfying pace might not be a representative of his race pace

    4. Chromatic says:

      Nervous: Could be because FI have appealed for a penalty claiming Sutil was blocked.

      But HAM’s front tyres are in a state. Can he last till DRS is enabled? Or will he pit before? I reckon RAI will not fight too much with him as he knows HAM will be the first to come in.
      ALO may be ahead of both by turn 6.

    5. Sri says:

      I don’t think it was nervous. I was surprised when he turned his head away when he was asked a question as though he was on tour in a forest watching birds! I think he shoed his genuine disinterest in answering as usual.

    6. C Lin says:

      Because Kimi’s car is very sensitive & tomorrow it could behave very differently. I think the win looks more like in Alonso’s bag.

  17. AlexD says:

    Sadly not a Ferrari pole, was hoping to see if after Practice sessions. I was 100% sure that Red Bull will opt for this strategy and Vettel might actually win the race tomorrow…Webber is well placed to make this happen. Good to see Hamilton on Pole. I really hope Alonso or Massa can win this one.

    1. Chromatic says:

      Alonso, Kimi, Vettel.
      Can’t shake a conviction [unfounded] that these three will make up the podium. No idea in which order.

      However, logic would dictate a fight between Kimi and the two Ferraris. Just can’t see any sign of Hamilton in my chrystal ball. I’ve searched again and again, but…. No.

    2. albert says:

      at least fernando doesn’t have to watch out for seb stopping for a paper at turn two !

    3. dean cassady says:

      I just rounded up everything I could find to assess the Ferrari tire management, and it looks short; I expect that they’ll need three stops, minimum. On the three-stoppers, I expect Vettel to be the fastest, probably sprinting the last four to five laps on the softs, to the finish line.
      Vettel is positioned well to advance several spots in the first couple of laps, then outlast everyone past heir first tire stops, and control the race from there.

  18. Dizzy says:

    These ridiculous tyres are starting to really badly hurt F1.

    Drivers no longer drive anywhere near the limit, They all run around driving to lap-times designated by engineer’s based around tyre data, Driver over that laptime & you kill the tyres. Now there so bad nobody wants to run them, even in qualifying.

    Its no longer F1 racing, Its Formula tyre saver.

    As i’ve said in the past, I don’t mind tyres wearing (Don’t mind super durable tyres either as thats what i grew up watching through the 60s/70s/80s/Early 90s), But I think the tyres we had in 2012 & now this year are too extreme in the other way.

    There should be a good balance between wear/durability & right now its too far on the wear side & likewise there’s a balance in races between conserving tyres/racing hard & right now thats way too far in the direction of conservation.

    In 2011 I didn’t mind the tyres too much, I thought they worked well that year & thus didn’t complain or criticize them (Apart from Istanbul where I felt tyres forcing 4 stops was too much something most including pirelli agreed with btw), I do however as I say think they have gone way too extreme after 2011.

    I see no redeeming feature regarding DRS & will never ever like or accept it, The tyres however I could accept if they scaled things back to at least what we had in 2011.

    1. Quade says:

      There is nothing good about the recent tyre trend. For those of us who have followed F1 for an appreciable time, it is quite obvious that out and out racing died in F1 with the current tyre trend.

      We want to see drivers out on a limb. I remember when Lewis came into the sport in 2007. Boy! I had never ever seen anything like it. At Monaco, he practically skimmed every wall while going faster and faster, lap after lap! Pure heart in mouth, seat of the pants stuff that put a double WDC to shame. We don’t see such impossibly talented driving anymore, because of bloody tyre saving. :(

    2. me says:

      A bit like the ’80s turbo era when people loved it?

    3. dean cassady says:

      You must be dizzy.
      Shake your head and take a bit of a bigger view.
      We’ve not had this kind of volatility at the sharp end of the grid…, well, I’ve never seen it like this.
      I wouldn’t disagree with you about the contrivances, yet the racing and unpredictability of it, is really good!
      It is what it is… for everybody; there is still finding the razor’s edge; and those the best at that… win qualifying, and maybe win the race.

    4. alexyoong says:

      DRS 100% agree, totally artificial. Car has dominant advantage over other car. Where is the skill in that?

      1. Dan says:

        In fairness the DRS had to come in, because aerodynamics were so dominant, it was near impossible to get close enough for a slipstream at some tracks.

        It has stopped the scenario where a slower car can hold a faster car up for endless laps.

        The bad thing about the new rules is the tyres, you can have a car which is over a second slower on pace overtaking, purely because he has tyres a few laps fresher.

      2. CanadaGP says:

        Tyres, DRS, etc. Whatever it is, they are just papering the fundamental problem that aerodynamics have become far more important than the driver not to mention the engine and any other mechanical component. Might as well be the world championship of aerodynamicists which Adrian Newey seems to win every year.

    5. Andrew M says:

      It’s much worse this year than last year in my opinion. Last year pole position was still of the utmost importance, now it’s not even worth trying for the world championship leader. Qualifying means even less now than it did during the years when they qualified on race fuel, and that’s saying something.

  19. Craig in Manila says:

    What a dud session.
    -Two WDC’s don’t even bother trying.
    -Cars only going on track for the absolute minimal possible amount of time.

    I feel a bit sorry for (1) people who paid their hard-earned-cash to attend at the track and (2) any F1 newbies who will be no doubt quite confused by the whole thing.

    Oh well, well done to LH for getting a stat as holder of pole position. Time will tell as to whether it was worth it.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Not wishing to take anything away from Hamilton’s excellent lap but surely the achievement is minimised to some dergree if one or more drivers aren’t even going to bother competing for it.

      And where did you get two WDC’s from? I only counted Vettel!

      1. Dan says:

        Vettel and Button.

        Hamilton’s pole isn’t minimised at all, he was the fastest guy out there and the two world champions didn’t try, simply because they knew they had no chance of challenging the front runners.

      2. Quade says:

        Button is a WDC too and he didn’t bother.

      3. A.Green says:

        His team mate tried, so did Ferrari and Lotus. Red bull didn’t, they had no a chance for pole this weekend and didn’t bother because of that.

        Last year almost every race two teams didn’t bother doing a lap in Q3 does that mean all pole’s where worthless in 2013??

    2. dren says:

      Conplain now, but the various strategies will make the race that much more interesting/entertaining. I’ll take a great race in turn for a so/so qualifying.

  20. Grant says:

    Amazing pole from Lewis!
    His 1st for Merc, and we thought he was just going there for the money…..

    Who knows how the tyres will behave tomorrow, Lewis’ could well outlast Kimi’s (certainly not impossible).

    1. C Lin says:

      I think Alonso rather Kimi is a more serious threat to Lewis.

    2. dean cassady says:

      could be. Mercedes are looking good over longer runs. The real question mark is how good Ferrari can be; they are definitely in the mix.

    3. Alexander Supertramp says:

      One big question: will the softs be better on the rubbered track? The soft tyre is clearly quicker than the medium, but it ‘lost life’ swiftly at the start of the week-end.

      I do expect Kimi to have the better tyre wear, but the Mercedes looks faster on the medium. Mercedes has a good hand, but there is everything to drive for tomorrow. I’m actually expecting Fernando to seal the deal, the Ferrari looks mighty consistent and has by far the best launch on the grid.

  21. alexyoong says:

    Mercedes may have been fastest, but did they suffer from durability problems? With Kimi pulling that lap out of the bag, and with his (as I presume) better wear rates, I could see him having a real shout if he can hold Alonso back at the start.

    I suppose we should not forget Vettel, who with Button may somehow work an advantage by starting on the medium. I don’t know. But interesting that Red Bull think qualifying position is of such little importance here. On the face of it you might think a big gamble. I suppose it must be based on a presumption that tyre wear is going to be so heavy here, and therefore the stop strategies so variable, that there are big chunks of time that are going to be won/lost depending on whether you get your strategy right/wrong.

    1. Pete says:

      Interesting that considering Vettel has rarely won from off the front row (and I believe never from below third?). Qualifying seems to be important to Red Bull at least historically.

      1. Sebastian says:

        Has a lot to do with them emphasizing downforce over top speed. They simple haven’t been able to overtake other cars because their strengths have been cornering speed. They have a different setup here so probably a different story.

    2. Dan says:

      In theory the strategies for Vettel and the front runners will be the same but in reverse.

      But Ref Bull have forgot one thing, they will be out of position at the beginning and end of the race and are increasingly vulnerable to traffic, which can ruin tyres and a strategy.

      Who ever leads after the first lap is in the best position because of the clean air helping to make the tyres last.

      Here’s to hoping its Lewis.

  22. Ahmad says:

    Formula 1 needs to do away with the Bridgestone-era top 10 tyre rule. Let the drivers qualify and start on whichever tyre they want.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      I’ll sign that petition. Today was a joke

    2. Alexander Supertramp says:

      Finaly someone making sense! There is nothing wrong with high degradation tyres as long as the better qualifiers don’t get a handicap for their good efforts. Letting all the drivers out of the top 10 and the cowards who don’t have the b*lls to perform in Q3 start on the chosen tyre is the biggest joke of all. EVERYONE should be able to choose his tyres after quali.

      1. Jake Pattison says:

        …and setup. Let them change the setup from quali to race after Q3 like they used to.

  23. James

    Do you think we’re beginning to see a breakdown in relationship between Vettel and Red Bull? Rockey’s messages over the radio in FP3 an Qualifying were…spiky…to say the least!

    1. C Lin says:

      Hmm what did Rocky say? Miss that.

      1. Beginning of FP3 “That didn’t exactly look like a drive through the pit’s did it?” (after going straight on after his installation lap)

        At the beginning of quali he was given an instruction about what he was to do on that run and was told to “make sure you record that”.

        Looks like Vettel is trying to make a point about “I’m doing things my way” which might not be sitting to well with the team

    2. alexyoong says:

      Really? What were they?

    3. yugin says:

      Vettel was supposed to drive through the pits and do a practice launch at the end, but didn’t. Rocky subsequently told him, “That didn’t look much like a drive-through to me.”

  24. alexyoong says:

    Button’s comment to his engineer on the Q2 in-lap was a nice one regarding Riccardo (sp?). That was the stand-out performance for me, because the Torro Rosso car hasn’t shown an enormous amount of potential yet.

    Still, the more I think about this race tomorrow, the more I think that outright speed is going to be less relevant tomorrow, given the high wear rates- so the McLaren, to use a random example, turned out to be insanely kind on its tyres, well you wouldn’t say it was too slow to use that durability to win. Equally, if the Mercedes turns out to be very hard on its tyres, then you would say it hasn’t got a chance, wherever it starts from.

    Qualifying really is becoming less and less relevant with these tyres.

    1. me says:

      “Qualifying really is becoming less and less relevant with these tyres.”

      This is how I like it, why have the race decided in an hour on Saturday?

  25. Mitchel says:

    In three years, Rosberg dismantled Schumacher’s legacy.

    Hamilton has managed this in three races. Time to re-assess some reputations?

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      It was only in the final year out of the three years Schumacher really started to fade wasn’t it? But yes, Hamilton’s taking this team by storm at the moment.

    2. AuraF1 says:

      It’s hard to compare – maybe if Lewis comes back at 43 and still wins with a bunch of WDC’s in the bag.

      It’s too difficult comparing drivers from different eras really. I think the assessment that Rosberg is fast but crumbles in the ultimate high pressure moments is starting to stick though…

    3. aveli says:

      never underestimate hamilton, the best driver to have stepped foot in the sport.

    4. Val from montreal says:

      When Hollywood haves 7 titles then you can talk ….

    5. John Z says:

      Pretty silly comment. Rosberg has said Mercedes were crap these last 3 years. Now they are better so your slight at Schumacher really has no bearing. Schumacher always won when he had a fast car. Hamilton had the fastest car on the grid last year an he could only manage 4th. Hamilton has much to prove.

      1. alastair emmerson says:

        He only managed 4th because of mclarens problems, had he not had the problems last year he would have won the WDC by a good margin. He has nothing to prove, he is one of the best drivers to come into f1, his stats say it all and im sure there will be plenty more to come from Lewis.

      2. John Z says:

        The excuses that are made for Hamilton are endless. He had the fastest car on the grid and he didn’t win until race 7 in Canada. I remember the bad pit stops but he had 30 laps after those stops to get that time back, which shouldn’t have been too difficult as he had the fastest car and he is worshipped as the world’s fastest driver. He has nothing to prove, you say? He’s won 1 WDC by a single point. Vettel has won 3, Alonso has won 2. Hamilton has plenty to prove. His stats say it all? The stats say that Vettel is better than Hamilton in every respect. The worst kind of Hiamilton fans says he has nothing to prove, he is one of the best ever. Please. He is the second highest paid driver on the grid, time to earn those checks.

    6. Observer says:

      The Schumacher we saw in 2010-12 was a different a Schumacher who we saw in 1991-2006. Even the champions cant beat time.

    7. Dave Aston says:

      Doesn’t mean much; Rosberg beat a middle aged Schumacher. He’s won one grand prix in 7 seasons; only 90 to go. At this rate, he’ll tarnish Schumacher’s legacy in 600 years or so. Martin Brundle smashed Stirling Moss when they were teammates. Heidfeld beat Raikkonen when they were at Sauber together, but who cares?

    8. gollino says:

      6 more world titles to go.
      Long way to dismantle anything….

    9. madmax says:

      Am I missing something?

      Is this not the same Schumi who is in his mid forties? Did the old boy not only end up behind Rosberg just 3 times last year when they both actually finished the race on those rare occasions Schumi’s car didn’t break down.

      Is this not the same Hamilton who’s idol was Senna and the same Schumi who when had a car as good was beating that idol.

      Nah must be talking about someone else.

    10. Richard says:

      To be fair I think Schumacher was always going to be passed it, but I think Rosberg is decently fast, but seems to fall apart in qualifying so far against Lewis. If Rosberg manages to sort himself out he might be serously dangerous, but Lewis by his own admission is not there yet with his car and Mercedes systems. Ross Brawn did actually say that he’d noticed how Lewis and his engineers were starting to gel this weekend, and expected things to improve still further.

    11. Dan says:

      Is this the Schumacher who won 7 titles with 2 cars and a little helper..

    12. Wade Parmino says:

      I think Schumacher could win races with this year’s car. His input over three years no doubt contributed to it’s development.

  26. alexyoong says:

    Button’s comment to his engineer on the Q2 in-lap was a nice one regarding Riccardo (sp?). That was the stand-out performance for me, because the Torro Rosso car hasn’t shown an enormous amount of potential yet.

    Still, the more I think about this race tomorrow, the more I think that outright speed is going to be less relevant tomorrow, given the high wear-rates- so if the McLaren, to use a random example, turned out to be insanely kind on its tyres, well you wouldn’t say it was too slow to use that durability to win. Equally, if the Mercedes turns out to be very hard on its tyres, then you would say it hasn’t got a chance, wherever it starts from.

    Qualifying really is becoming less and less relevant with these tyres.

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      I wonder if someone picked up Jensons 2.05.673 on any feed in its glory?

  27. Doohan says:

    Congrats on Daniel getting into Q3
    With his team mate bottom in the second session and a top 10 spot. Hopefully this signals an improvement for the Aussie and his Italian squad.

  28. Paige says:

    Hey James, just had a thought, and I’d like to get your feedback on this.

    Is there anyone among the option tire qualifiers who has another fresh set of options for the race? This situation with the tires reminds me of the 2011 race, when Hamilton opted to save a set of options for the race and took advantage of fresher rubber to beat Vettel on a three-stopper. Given the clear pace advantage of the option tire, it may not be a bad strategy to try a three stopper with two abbreviated runs on primes to minimize time loss from them going off and then finishing the race on a fresh set of primes.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I’m checking that

      1. Paige says:

        Fresh set of options at the end, that is. ;)

      2. Dante says:

        During the NBCSC broadcast it was said that Hamilton has a set of fresh options in reserve.

    2. Ganesh says:

      Great question – but I doubt. If any one does have it, it will be Lewis or Nico.

      Both Seb and Jenson have a fresh option though for the last stint.

      Also, James – what is the lap time diff you foresee from the 3 rd lap onwards between Prime & Option?

    3. Richard says:

      I think they will all be on a three stopper anyway as Gary Anderson said it was the fastest strategy. I expect the first pit stops will happen very quickly. So expect Vettel to be leading the race after for a while.

    4. Nigel says:

      Vettel, I think.

  29. Rich G says:

    With the Ferrari drivers’ ability to get off the line well, this is effectively pole and 3rd for them. Fully expect to see Alonso in the lead at the end of lap 1.

    1. brendan says:

      alonso is 6/1 to lead 1st lap,is he worth a bet?

  30. Alex K says:

    Thought that Mclaren made a good call to send button round for a slow lap meaning he starts in front of Vettel. Redbull must be kicking themselves for that one

    1. Anne says:

      I´m afraid Button doesn´t have the car to keep Vettel behind him for many laps. But I wish he could

      :)

    2. I enjoyed the comment he made about being surprised about the 30-odd second gap between the medium and soft tyres!

    3. me says:

      I doubt it, if he’d finished the lap he would have had to start the race with those tyres which may have a flat spot.

  31. Craig D says:

    Well done Lewis. He showed his trump card of quali pace again!

    These are very much quali tyres though so I can imagine Vettel on primes will be all over them by lap 5. If the leaders fall into the traffic of other prime runners after their stop, Vettel could be able to make the gap to go on to win. So it’ll be interesting.

    Kimi is a dark horse though. Wasn’t expecting him to be on the front row and in the past Lotus has had good race pace but been too far down the grid to begin with.

    I’m also a bit concerned about Perez. He hasn’t qualified well so far and quite a bit behind Button. We all know Button is a competent qualifier but nothing special (if he’d been at Mercedes there likely wouldn’t have been a Mercedes on pole today). So for Perez to be quite far behind Button is worrying. However he is new to the team and it may be a Massa type syndrome, where he’s struggling because the car is difficult but when/if it gets good he’ll be similar to his team mate.

    Should be an interesting race but I’m already expecting a lot of tyre complaints post race! Especially if these quali-options cause Hamilton et al to go backwards through getting trapped in the pack…

    I wonder if Vettel has now got an insider in Webber’s garage and there’s a few bottles of his fuel hiding in Vettel’s motorhome! :P

    1. AuraF1 says:

      To be fair Perez has never been much of a qualifier even in lower formulae – his strength is the race. Button probably isn’t that bad at quali – but 3 years alongside Lewis would make most people look like average qualifiers.

  32. KAlan says:

    Expecting Alonso to fly past the two in-front. Ferrari’s pace on the long run yesterday on medium tires in the hands of Massa was very impressive. Lotus looked a handful on heavy fuel and behaved much better on lighter fuel load, very confusing as it’s supposed to be the opposite or so we were told. Mercedes, i don’t think they look after their tires as well as Ferrari or Lotus. Baring a mechanical problem or an incident where he loses his front wing again, I suspect Alonso will pass both the cars starting ahead of him.
    Both Ferrari drivers should be on the podium, 1-3, and joined by one of the Mercedes drivers if Raikkonen’s Lotus behaves as it did yesterday on heavy fuel load.

    1. azac21 says:

      I think the first 3 on the grid, better get together and agree on how they will get their soft tyres to last as long as possible. If Hamilton is holding up Kimi and/or Fernando in the first laps they will end up destroying their tyres very soon (the three of them) and lose the race to Button ot Vettel before it even starts. So they better come up with a way to avoid that while somehow have a fair racing fight…. not easy I know!

  33. .lol says:

    Vettel has the best tyre strategy (Button too but in a slower car).

    1. dren says:

      A three stop strategy starting on the softs, what Hamilton will be on, is the best. He will have a charging Vettel in the end on softs though. Traffic in the middle part of the race will be the decider. The Mercedes looks to have the best pace, so it will be down to overtaking in the middle stints.

  34. Xman says:

    I would like to comment on the form of Mercedes and Mclaren.

    It is evident to me that Hamilton is absolutely making all the difference at the moment.

    If we take into consideration Hamilton’s qualifying gaps to JB, we can safely say LH may have been 4-6 tenths ahead of JB in the same car. Which brings the Mclaren to the front of the grid (i haven’t studies the times yet).

    I think Brawn knows how to bring the best out of his driver. And Mclaren really didn’t do a good enough job and lost their biggest asset. 6 tenths sounds like another driver on the grid doesn’t?

    1. Alexander Supertramp says:

      6 tenths is a lot, but the Mclaren is definitely not that bad. You have to consider that there are 5 top teams, so Mclaren could just be underperforming ( the car was realy bad in Australia though).

    2. Craig D says:

      Hamilton is a great qualifier but Button wasn’t 6 tenths behind him in general. In fact often it was less than 2 tenths.

      Would we have Mercedes on pole if another driver than Lewis was in the car? Probably not, with the exception of Vettel or Alonso. But it’s wrong to suggest the switch in Mercedes’s and McLaren’s performance is down to Lewis!

      The engineers ultimately decide a driver’s chance to fight for podiums and wins to a large extent.

  35. simon says:

    great lap from Lewis,I’m so happy to see it all coming together now at merc, Im not sure if he can win the race though,Kimi is in a great place for the race and lets not forget Fernando is going to be flying out of the blocks.It could be that the guys lower down with free choice of tyre may well have the last laugh.
    I’m still thinking though that this whole tyre situation is stupid, when a driver cant drive his car at 100% because he has to manage his tyres it necomes more like an endurance race.I dont for one minute want to go back to the Bridgestone days of a tyre hanging on for fifty laps, but surely somwhere in between that and what we have now would be better from a racing point of view, it seem like F1 is becoming like game of chess and that does’nt make great entertainment.

    1. Quade says:

      There is nothing wrong with tyres lasting forever. What was wrong in those days was the extreme aero which created such vasts amounts of turbulence that it became almost impossible to overtake. The aero problem has now been fixed with DRS and a raft of new design rules (most visble with the snow plough front wings and barn door rear wings. Therefore, the entire tyre situation is artificial, and perhaps done only for obscure business reasons.

    2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      The philosopher said:

      “Pirellitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate” (Caesar Saladis) –

      (Pirellis should not be multiplied unnecessarily).

      1. Quade says:

        Ha ha ha!!!

  36. Paul says:

    Mercedes must be smacking themselves for having Schumacher keep that seat warm for three years.

    1. Bring Back Murray says:

      Yeah that’s very true. Although they seem to have taken a massive step this year anway. Nico wasn’t all that much faster than Schumi during their partnership. But definitely the Hamilton factor has given the whole team a massive lift

    2. Paige says:

      Not really. Even if Schumacher lost his speed from his younger days, he still put up some good results and had a key role in building the team. He’s always been among the best- if not the best- at developing a race car, and Mercedes clearly made a lot of progress from having a car on the edge of the top-10 in 2010 to having a car in 2012 that won a race and was very competitive in a few races.

      I very much doubt that Button would have had this impact on Mercedes if he had stayed on instead of going to McLaren. There weren’t really any better options out there at the time they signed Schumacher, besides Kubica.

      1. Quade says:

        If anything, Merc with Schumi, went backwards. You seem to be forgetting that Merc was once Brawn and that the Brawn won both the drivers and constructors championships the previous year to Schumi’s entry.

        Not taking away from Schumi’s mega talent, but we could be in danger of creating cults and myths.

      2. Paige says:

        Brawn’s car was developed with hundreds of millions in Honda money. When Honda left, they were basically racing in 2009 on a penny budget from small sponsors, and they had no money to develop the car during the year or to work on the 2010 car. So basically, it was like Mercedes started with Schumacher as a midfield team and had to put the resources and right people in place to get back to the top. We’re just now seeing the effects of this work, as Mercedes look like they have taken a big step this year toward competing for a world championship in the near future.

      3. Quade says:

        But Brawn is still there, while Schumacher is not. The team found him wanting which is why he was replaced. He was a great driver in another era, but sadly came back after his prime and beyond his time when things were more manual than computerised. Now, its all about data and correlation of digital simulation, which are areas Lewis excels in.

    3. chris says:

      Yes and of course the car was absolutely brilliant for those 3 years, never broke down, DRS never failed, wheels never fell off, and they kept the developments coming thick and fast.

    4. Craig D says:

      To be fair though, previous Mercedes gave been nothing like this year’s. But yeah, Schuey’s come back was a bit of a wasted seat.

    5. Val from montreal says:

      When Hollywood wins 91 gps then u can talk …

      1. Ahmed says:

        Val from Montrel +1000
        How short sighted some fans can be…

  37. All revved-up says:

    Love these split strategy races. Ferrari look strong if they can go furthest on softs in clean air. Button and Vettel should come through to the front once the leaders pit. But they will need to do one last pitstop for softs right at the end! Fascinating.

  38. Bring Back Murray says:

    Nice to see Lewis get the pole but what is the point of qualifying if the main championship contenders aren’t even going to bother with it.

  39. Tom in adelaide says:

    This whole F1 cost cutting and environmentally friendly agenda we sometimes hear about …. Where exactly do “dispose after 1 lap” tires fit into it? I sure hope they recycle the (small) amount of rubber left at the end of the weekend.

  40. Dmitry says:

    I was and still am fully against these Pirellis.
    They are a joke.
    I can understand many likes them because they create some “action” and a bit different strategies, but to me they are awful.

    I really do hope teams, drivers will have a talk with Pirelli.

    Back to Q – congratulation to Lewis. It is still strange to see him not in a McLaren, but I am really great he is doing fine and enjoing it.

  41. nusratolla says:

    The two fastest pairs of hands on the grid are one and two – Lewis Hamilton & Kimi Raikkonen with the most aggressive driver third – Alonso. So, its the best grid to any Grandprix…. Let the race begin…. will be watching the wear rate on Lotus…. should be interesting….. especially when Kimi starts on the best position since his return makes him set up his tyre wear a lot more effective.

  42. dufus says:

    I guess RBR were getting tired of Kers issues and need a new excuse to keep MW away from the golden boy.

  43. dufus says:

    And good on you Disco Dan. Great result.

  44. Fozxr6 says:

    Bernie get those cars on the damn track. No lap in first five minutes no qualifying

  45. Trickle says:

    The possibilities as I see:

    1) Starting on medium is the winner in which case Vettel will win and Button will do alright.

    2) Raikonnen starts on softs and his superior tyre degradation enables him one less stop which would be a clear winner.

    3)More normal race in which case it will be Hamilton vs Alonso in pure racing terms.

  46. Sammy says:

    I feel the Ferrari’s didn’t push as much as they could because both of them were saving tyres.
    Nevertheless, nice job by Lewis and Kimi; tomorrow’s race will be very very interesting.
    Looking forward to see what Vettel can do with the medium tyres and the different strategy during the race.

  47. dufus says:

    They under fueled Webber’s car by 750mls.
    This is a major screw up as the stewards need 1000mls to test. Was the guy pumping the fuel asleep or was Helmut on the Bowser ?
    RBR claim the Bowser was the problem.
    What, no flow sensor on the bowser ?
    No Flow sensor or Level sensor in the car !
    They have hundreds of sensors on the car and high tech fuel bowsers but no Flow or Level sensors on the car.
    I don’t buy any of it.

  48. Mike J says:

    At least Webber will not drop any places at the start!!!! ( James, you don’t have to adjust your start performance chart for him before next race)
    Great performance by Ricciardo however it has to be overshadowed by the tyres. What a woeful display especially for the paying public. I know that the teams will work them out probably by the 7th race however, like last year, the paying public are losing money and quali today was pretty poor.
    I have supported Pirelli till now but they must have enough info from the tracks and tyres to pick a decent set. Maybe bring back quali tyres or start on whatever tyres you chose. Something has to be better than what we saw today
    Lewis or Alonso my pick for tomorrow. Vettel third, Webber fourth (will not be allowed to pass!!!!!)

  49. Dave says:

    Apparently these tyres are what the teams asked for so this is what they got. However, I think Pirelli made a mistake to choose these softs for this circuit.

    Qualifying was not funny but unfortunately nothing will be changed any time soon. Yes the teams will get on top of the tyres eventually as they did last year but at what cost to the sport ?

    IIRC there was not one single car out in Q1 until the 13th minute and if I was fed up sitting in bed watching it how about the poor fans who forked out so much money to watch probably 20 minutes of qualifying action at most? I think its selfish. Its also embarrassing to Formula One which labels itself as the pinnacle of motorsport.

    If F1 is so intent on cost saving why not do away with Friday altogether, have practice on Saturday morning, maybe two one hour sessions, then qualifying later in the afternoon and anyone who doesn’t set a time in any session can’t start the race ?

    I’m a huge F1 fan but have only ever been to 2 Grands Prix due to cost but if I ever go again I’ll only go to race day not Friday or Saturday cos its a waste of money!

    Well done Lewis, Alonso FTW!

  50. Jonathan says:

    All these complaints about the tyres makes me think they must come from younger/recent fans.

    “The Bridgestones were so much better” – were they? So hard they could last a race. But that was because they had little grip! Which means the car performance was still limited by the tyres.

    What about the Michelin tyres? Recent fans show their lack of knowledge – they never mention the French rubber. Those tyres often had a precisely defined operating window. If driven hard for the first few laps they looked great… until they showed they were overcooked and were then slow. Treat them gently sometimes for as many as 10 laps easing them up to a faster lap time gave them much less degradation. They had to be driven much more carefully.

    Many a time we saw a driver come out of a pitstop and couldn’t resist the urge to pass a car in front… only to destroy the life of his boots and lose out later. It took a lot of discipline to keep calm, allow others to come past and then obliterate them once the tyres reached their sweet spot.

    We often hear talk of scrubbed tyres going on these days – but what about the time of old when practice was used to work tyres through a heat cycle. Getting this right meant they were at their ideal operating window much more quickly in a race.

    Tyres have always been a significant factor in overall car performance. Kimi’s response is so typical – he might as well have said “it is what it is – get over it!”

    Fans need to accept the tyres for what they are and enjoy the way teams try to exploit them. Funny how the winner never complains about his tyres isn’t it?

    As for quali today… the lack of action on track is precisely why they introduced the 3 part quali. We often used to see nothing happen in the first half hour.

    1. I think you want to revisit a few races. The Bridgestones were plenty grippy.No cars were sliding around on them due to lack of grip.

      The Michelins didn’t have a precisely defined operating window at all. They went through a bad graining patch after 4 or 5 laps, then they were vulnerable for about 10 laps until they sorted themselves out again.

      In both cases the companies involved were in pursuit of the ultimate racing tyre, not deliberately making tyres that fall apart.

    2. simon says:

      I’ve been an avid F1 fan since Goodyear days,and what your saying about the Bridgestones leads me to think i must have been watching a different formula, These Pirelli’s are designed to degrade, i cant remember any of the other tyre suppliers that have been involved in F1 making their tyres do anything other than give the best performance with a degradation trade off, not the other way around. And to suggest that the folks on here that are complaining about the Pirelli’s are new to the sport or young is just plain insulting.

  51. Sikhumbuzo says:

    Guys

    If you read to what JB said po BBC about the Merc this is not a surprise, nonetheless I still think that some people at Maranello are regretting letting Aldo go!

    There is just some ppl you never put in one room and that is Ross and Aldo. Add to that BB and GW. They gonna hv to find a different role for Paddy coz Ross continues to be the glue in that team

    Sikhumbuzo

    1. Mike from Colombia says:

      I agree. He is the Daddy.
      Ross has presence and the likeability factor.

  52. Robert N says:

    James,

    is the fuel bowser something under the control of RBR, or is this manufactured and delivered from the outside?

    Cheers,
    Robert

      1. Robert N says:

        Thanks!

        Do you know if this is the same problem that affected Vettel in Abu Dhabi last year? If so, that would be worrying.

      2. Robert N says:

        Come to think about it, would it not be easily possible for teams to weigh their cars before they are sent out, so that they would be reasonably sure about how much fuel they have on board?

        I find it really hard to understand why these things happen so frequently. (Hamilton, Vettel, Webber). Especially given the drastic consequences.

        At least a team with RBR’s resources should have found a way to make sure a car does not start a run in qualifying with too little fuel.

        I assume that teams do weigh their cars (and drivers) routinely so that they know how much ballast to put it.

        Or are these scales no accurate enough to pick up a different of 3kg?

        I am really puzzled.

      3. James Allen says:

        No time in quali, also the FIA weighbridge is in use for random checks

  53. To give the fans a good qualifying experience and not an empty track why not introduce championship points for the top 10 in Q3 ?

  54. JustGuessing says:

    If the tyre situation continues like this, I think I could have a shot at an F1 career – I can drive really, really slowly!

    Been saying for a while now the “sport” is being taken out of F1 because of these tyres.

    Fix it now

  55. Luke Clements says:

    Did RBR sabotage the wrong car? ;)

    1. Jake Pattison says:

      No. Webber was punished for his outburst on the podium at Sepang.

  56. Elie says:

    I said it would be a Mercedes and Ferrari circuit and Im sticking with this. I was impressed with Kimis time and really hope he can run longer on the tyres, but I fear his speed on the mediums in his long runs were not quiet strong enough ( around seventh) so strategy and timing of the stops will be crucial. I hate to say it but I think Alonso is a special for this race. I think the Ferrari will be more consistent on both compounds and if they launch as well as usual they will be hard to beat ..FP3 I think highlighted that for me.

    1. Elie says:

      Btw-congrats to Lewis Excellent quali and I hope he gets to fight all the way with these crazy tyres.

  57. matthew says:

    IF lewis can have a strong first stint and keep his lead,i can see him winning.he did 27 laps on primes,and did good competitive lap times.
    but alonso is super quick off the start line,and both kimi and alonso will be hard to shake off.so lewis will be under massive pressure from start to finish,i hope he can get the win tho.

    on a side note,i’m really am not a fan of these tyres.theyve gone too far.

  58. JohnBt says:

    Front runners should pit immediately and junk the softs, it’s getting ridiculous. To fall off after 2 laps, c’mon I don’t need rocket science to understand, now this is really irritating. Kindly not treat us like idiots!!!

    Pirelli, could you kindly allow at least 12 to 15 laps, be sensible and they can put up a good show. I’ll feel real insulted if I’m one of the drivers. WT…………….

    Kudos to Lewis for his performance despite having a head cold, he didn’t look well during post quail. That is why Alonso fears Hamilton, who coulda blame Nando for that. Respect goes to Lewis.

    Alonso long runs on the mediums looked very good during the practices so he’ll be in the hunt for podium. So is Kimi. Am gutted about Webber’s situation, but let’s see how many places he’ll take, should be fun.

    Vettel and Button starting on mediums will be something to watch out for.

    Again Bianchi is impressive.

    Dump the softs and I feel it will be a very good race for tomorrow.

  59. Pargo says:

    Just as Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus appear to have stepped up in 2013. RBR…

  60. Matthew Vennard says:

    Anyone criticising Perelli should think about how it was with Bridgestone. They and Paul Hembury are doing what they are being asked to do. Agreed the option tyre are a little on the edge but come the race it may be different with the track evolution.

    1. “Anyone criticising Pirelli should think about how it was with Bridgestone.”

      We are thinking about how it was under Bridgestone. And desperately, desperately missing those days!

      1. me says:

        who are “we”? noone i know misses the follow the leader races. glad u and your like are not in charge.

      2. We, as was made abundantly clear in my post, are the people who are criticizing Pirelli.

        I’m glad that nobody you know misses seasons like 1996,1997,1998,1999,2003,2005,2006,2007,2008 and the best season I can ever remember, 2010.

        I’m happy for you and your friends if you are enjoying watching drivers sail past each other because of mismatched tyres, instead of lap after lap of relentless chasing down, following, and eventually making a move to actually outsmart another driver.

        You and your friends are incredibly lucky to have what you want out of F1. Leaves the rest of us feeling very jaded.

  61. Vinola says:

    I bet the central question at McLaren these days is WWLB-Where Would Lewis Be?…take a look at the archives here- April 2010, 2011, 2012; Lewis was consistently HALF a second faster than Jensen in Shanghai in EVERY qualifying session Q1,Q2,Q3(except Q3 2010-car bottoming out, Q3 2011-tactical reason). I reckon this McLaren would have been 4th on the grid. Let’s do the WWLB math every qualifying session from now on!

    1. Mike from Colombia says:

      Not only that, but I think that Hamilton was great reference point for Button to raise his game. Perez wil not be a benchmark for Button.

      Yes, it is early days but I think that a wounded McLaren made a huge mistake in rushing to sign Perez. He will probably go the way of Kovalainen.

  62. John says:

    It did happen to Vettel last year and so can happen again. But considering the moment when it happened, one has to ask the question: Is this a convenient way for RB to manage the drivers’ crisis?

  63. albert says:

    am i right in thinking 7 or 8 laps on soft tyres at 1 sec a lap ,plus the spread out of the cars would put the front runner approx 12 sec or more in front of button/seb , less than a pit stop ?

  64. Danny Almonte says:

    Button knows he doesn’t have the pace so he does what he is always forced to do: he gambles on pit strategy.

  65. A.N. Other says:

    I find the lack of fuel in Webber’s car to be more than slightly suspicious.

    And I find the mess with the deliberately poor Pirelli tires
    to be a pathetic indication of how far F1 has fallen under
    Ecclestone.

    There is still good racing, just not in F1. MotoGP gets my
    money, this year.

  66. skan says:

    Ham missed out on the Bridgestone era. He would have been a 3 time champion by now. His quali pace is unmatched bar Vettel. These dumb tires are spoiling all the fun of racing.

    1. Mike from Colombia says:

      100% agree. Pirelli lovers hit back with the argument that everyone has the same tyres.

      Might well be so, but we don’t see enough hard racing and cars in full flight. And DRS is making everything much worse.

      Bring back 2010.

    2. He had 4 seasons under Bridgestone.

  67. dean cassady says:

    The whining about the tires is quite a bit more tiresome than the tires’ performance.

    The thing about modern formula one is, they make rules (I don’t know how, but usually a lot of quacking), the constraints of the formula; then the teams, in ever expanding capability, seek out and pursue the fastest path to the fastest car; that’s what they do.

    Everybody has the same constraints (though sometimes somebody finds a path around such constraints, especially when they can’t be policed).

    So… tires… and funky, all-blowing-the-load-at-the-same-time, whatnot:
    “that’s what they do.”
    So at one level, when you are expecting something, in this case, an hour or so on track dueling and striving, all these people are SO DISAPPOINTED!
    But there are those paying attention to the fascination of the these latest approaches; imagine completely abandoning significant blocks of time, for… retaining more options for during the actual race? Wow!
    Fascinating.
    People often complain about how the driver has been minimized in the equation, yet here, now, this format, right now, today, creates this intense, almost unbelievable pressure on the human operator, TO DELIVER!
    There is no place to hide if you are left to a single timed qualifying run.

    It’s amazing!

    Getting over traditional expectations might allow some to gain a deeper understanding of the big picture, here.

    As previously predicted, Alonso was going to beat Massa, in qualifying.
    Go Massa, go!

    Sad about the ‘co-incidence’ at Red Bull; truly demoralizing; I wouldn’t mind anybody winning this year, except for one.

    Really interesting weekend, so far; I am hoping for high tension in the race tomorrow.

    Even though the racing is slightly different from the mid-industrial era origins, it’s been a long time since there has been such volatility at the top.

    I’m sticking with my outlying prediction of a Bianchi point.

  68. abc says:

    Alonso will crash with kimi at the first corner. Hahaha!

    1. Quade says:

      Seriously, thats not funny.

  69. JB says:

    It will be interesting to watch Webber coming from the back tomorrow. Vettel started from back and reach the podium. How far can Webber go?

    I do not think the anyone at RB would do this deliberately to Webber because they need to win the constructor championship.

    However, I can’t help thinking that this is karma for Webber.

    1. mbraz says:

      karma for what

  70. Kay says:

    Tyres again.

    Just bring back Bridgestone-specs for goodness sake!

  71. SprayTeam says:

    Could be a very interesting race.
    Hoping Vettle gets the same luck tomorrow Webber got today.
    I wonder if it would make sense for Webber to start on the soft Option tyres as he is right at the back, and then pit after one lap to get the Primes on. Seems like there is very little time value in having the Options on the car except for 2 or 3 laps, so the speed benefit must be outweighed by the pitstop time?
    So doing this soft start at the rear will minimise the negative impact of them, I reckon – and if the other back runners do the same, even better :)

  72. Vivek says:

    Dear James,

    Pirelli are getting a lot of negative publicity lately, which I think is not justified so early into the season. I say so for two reasons.

    Last season was not much different, producing 7 winners in 7 races, as the teams took time to sorting out tire performances amongst other things.

    Also, it must be an engineer’s job to make a car that uses it’s tyres well.

    You must do a piece on the tire conundrum in F1 right now, probably after the Bahrain race (Prior to when Pirelli will do their own review).

    What say?

    Regards
    Vivek

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, will do

      Also it will be a featured part of the next Podcast at the end of April

      1. Will it be influenced by the fact that Pireli are sponsors of your site?

  73. mhilgtx says:

    Well I would love to see Hamilton win. I am so impressed with Ross Brawn and him.

    It seems RBR realized they had no shot at the pole and opted for the next best option.

    Webber was about as professional as you can expect after running out of gas.

    While I understand the team’s strategy on not coming out I think either Pirrelli needs to rethink their tires or there needs to be a different way of allocating tires.

  74. Methusalem says:

    Toro Rosso ahead of Red Bull — 1st time since Monza 2008.

    I forsee collision between Grosjean and Massa; Vettel and Button; Alonso and Raikkonen.

  75. alexyoong says:

    This is a totally fascinating race- none of us have any idea what is going to happen tomorrow. All these Pirelli criticisms are wide of the mark. Think back to dark days of Bridgestone tyres, with the fastest normally guaranteed to be at the front. Now at least we are kept guessing.

  76. Liam says:

    Vettel really starting from 8th, that Toro Rosso(puppet) will sure as hell get out of the way for Vettel.

  77. Dave Aston says:

    Does Alonso outqualifying Massa mean the team will stop focusing on Felipe so much?

    1. Krischar says:

      Why the team need to focus on Massa ?

      There is no surprise to see Alonso in P3 and massa a bit behind

      Come on Fernando You are the best

      Alonso for the win

  78. luqa says:

    THE most boring qualifying session ever! When not even the back markers will go out until 10 mins before the end of the session, things have gone too far. Everyone is only doing one run- Ridiculous.
    There’s not much I can do, but no more Pirelli tires for my cars- ever!
    Why have a 1 hour Quali session if the best cars are only on track for 9 or 10 laps- including warm up!
    Why have drivers? Install software for the cars to drive themselves and have the Team bosses and Engineers dictate everything from the pit wall. This is what we are now seeing. For shame!

  79. TheBestPoint? says:

    Can we agree now that:
    http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2013/04/mclaren-problems-could-take-quite-some-time-to-fix/#comments
    knew what he was talking about?

    looking forward to more insights rest of season.

    keep it up.

    oh and congrats Lewis – but job only 30% done make it a win 2moro OK!

    1. Random 79 says:

      Not to belittle James, but that was kind of self-evident…and a small correction for you:

      His job 100% done on Saturday, 0% done on Sunday.

      There’s a school of thought that says that those who start on the mediums may actually have the advantage.

      We’ll see soon enough, but best of luck to Hamilton and the others, should be a good race :)

  80. Torchwood Five says:

    Pirelli can bat away criticism as long as only two teams criticise the new tyres, and ask for a return to 2012 rubber; but with the entire Quali 3 field – barring whatever Hulkenberg’s deal was – leaving the session empty until the last three minutes to cope with your tyres, that has to say something.

  81. DB4Tim says:

    I must think RB did this on purpose to MW, this can take him out of the running for WDC and make the on track issues a none factor between him and SV…..and I know everyone will say there is no way RB would do this….amazing every time MW is close to SV he has issues on the start line …and and and

  82. Random 79 says:

    Question about Webber:

    It’s a long-shot, but is it just possible that someone in the team called the order to short fuel Webber in order to separate he and Vettel during the race.

    Fear of a agro-fueled collision if they were too close at the start maybe?

    I can’t be the only one thinking it…

    1. Random 79 says:

      …and I just read that he has a penalty now also.

      Why do the drivers get penalised for a mistake the team made? I know it’s the rules, but still…

      Dig deep Mark.

      1. Anne says:

        Well if Webber can´t finish withing the points it hurts RB in the constructors championship. Even if he finishes in P1O it is just one point and also hurts RB even if Vettel wins the race

        If there was some conspiracy against Webber he should quit now. It´s too much humiliation

      2. James Allen says:

        As you point out, it hurts the team if Webber starts from the back

        Competition for WCC is much hotter this year with Ferrari a real challenger to RBR. They lose money and points if Webber’s race is compromised. Why would they invite that problem on themselves?

      3. Random 79 says:

        Yourself & James are absolutely correct; I only put it out there because people were going to be thinking it, so it might as well be said out loud.

        I do doubt very much that that is what happened, but suppose it did?

        As you said it would be humiliating…unless he came back and beat Vettel, as he did in Silverstone. There a couple of different versions of that story, but the fact is that after Vettel got the ‘better’ font wing from Mark, Mark came came straight back and won that race.

        I think it would be a stretch to say he could win today – or even that he will beat Vettel – but a good result should be possible and will show that after a knock down he can still come back harder than before.

        There’s no humiliation in that; the only true humiliation is quitting :)

      4. Random 79 says:

        …or not :(

  83. Rich C says:

    Formula HoHum.

    Though it proves once again that Friday times mean almost nothing.

    1. James Allen says:

      But Friday’s work is very important, learning how the car and tyres work on long runs

      1. KRB says:

        The italics end here. :-)

    2. Steven says:

      Friday times NEVER meant anything, all the teams are doing is gathering data about tire performance and longevity. LIke James said, its important work, but they will never show the pecking order

  84. Sergio says:

    Well, as Dietrich said, “team orders not permitted”. Maybe Mark may prefer to make a better start at the back before leaving ahead and find one of his usual problems (kers, clutch adjustment, etc). Well, maybe it’s out of his reach. (Yes, possibly). Good luck Mark.

  85. gary says:

    Where will Brawn be in 2014?

    1. David (Sydney) says:

      Red Bull.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Putting his feet up by the sound of it :(

  86. Lewis says:

    Lewis, Kimi and Fernando in the top 3, feels like 2007 again.

    1. Basil says:

      Good times!

  87. Clumsy Peach says:

    If we have to sit and watch empty tracks could Q1, Q2 and Q3 all shorter by 5 minutes, I’d be so disappointed if I’d paid to go and watch qualifying.

    They disqualified 2 badminton pairings during the Olympics for not taking part in their sport, so maybe drivers should start going back to 11th and further back if they don’t go out if they don’t set a time in Q3, why fight for a top 10 and then settle for 10th. At least Ricciardo tried and was rewarded with a 7th place.

  88. Stefanos says:

    Do we know if high fuel weight exacerbates tyre degradation? If so, surely it makes sense to use the options on low fuel, later in the race, rather than have to pit 4-5 (maybe more for Kimi) laps into the race. One might even pick up a few places (if one is not leading by then already). I can’t wait to find out.

    1. Steven says:

      Yes, but pitting 4-5 laps from the end of the race isnt ideal either;

  89. Chris NZ says:

    Hi James

    I was reading on autosport.com some of the drivers comments about the tyres. Mark Webber commented that the tyres are making it a bit will the WWF(now WWE)

    It could make an interesting blog, about the way the tyres have changed things.

    I think the tyres are having too much influence on the racing now, and needs to be more consistent, rather then degrad so quickly. But that is just my opinion

    1. quest says:

      Whatever one can argue about the current tyre sutuation, it is definitely nowhere near as WWEesque as what Red Bull and Merc pulled at the last race. And Webber was a part of it.

  90. Steven says:

    Im willing to bet that the people on here calling to go bak to bridgestones type tires were the same ones complaining of no overtaking and procesion type races. You can have it both ways.
    I will, however, say that I feel that this year they’ve gone a little too extreme, I think last year was as far as they should have gone. But, at least all they drivers are on the same tyres.

    1. These are all interesting assumptions and I hear it again and again with NO evidence to back it up.

      I would imagine that the people on here calling back to Bridgestones loved the racing under their regime. I know I did.

      Yes there were the odd dud processional race, but not nearly as many as people make out.

      1. me says:

        just as the racing now is better than some are making out.

  91. Peter says:

    If these tyres are the new normal for this year and beyond, the qualifying format needs to be updated. To what, I don’t know, but not running shouldn’t be an option while tickets and TV subscriptions still cost money.
    If it was my choice, I think I’d maybe replace qualifying with a sprint race, on a special high performace low-deg sprint tyre. Finishing positions dictate starting positions for the Sunday marathon. Points could be banked, but only collected if the car finishes the GP on Sunday. That way championships will always be decided on a Sunday.

    1. They may as well have four 10 minute sessions. Then at least there’s only 5 minutes per session where cars aren’t on track…!

  92. Grant H says:

    James, you seem to have missed one of the key points from qually. . . What about Ricardo, that car is prob 3rd slowest on the grid so p7 is an amazing achievement.

    Well done to Lewis, once again proving in terms of single lap pace, there’s not many out there who can match him

    1. Grant H says:

      Sorry I mean ricciardo

      1. Random 79 says:

        At least you pronounced it correctly :)

    2. James Allen says:

      He’s mentioned…

    3. JB says:

      Vettel remains the pole position king in my books. His onboard view when doing the pole lap is nothing short of amazing. His driving precision is immaculate even when driving on the very edge of grip.

      Hamilton looks more exciting on the outside with the car weaving all over the place. He is one driver who does not have to hit every apex and yet he can be faster than anyone.

      1. KRB says:

        Hamilton is far better at hitting apexes than Vettel. Same with Alonso. Vettel is great, but many of his poles have relied on the car covering up for missed lines, etc.

  93. ChrisJ says:

    Watched Ted’s Notebook (sky) and was dismayed to see lots of mechanics working on Hamilton’s car. I know there was a steward watching them but how is he able to make sure they’re not doing anything illegal when he can’t see what they’re doing underneath the car. I thought Park Ferme meant the cars couldn’t be touched!

    1. James Allen says:

      They are allowed to change things that are broken. The FIA publishes a list of things they are permitted to change and makes it public before the race.

  94. Andrew Halliday says:

    The time has come for the qualifying format to be changed. Q1 and Q2, whilst important in setting the grid positions from P11 downwards, are otherwise a waste of time. Whether a driver finishes these sessions in P1 or P10, it has no effect on the outcome of qualifying. Viewers are therefore sucked in to watching what is effectively a non-event. I’ve always preferred the 90′s style qualifying format: One hour session, drivers are allowed 12 laps and can do these laps as and when they please within the hour. The old argument that this is boring for TV viewers no longer stands as we now have so much filler during TV F1 coverage, it’s no different than getting up at 3am to watch a practice session (which I do!). Qualifying (and F1 in general) needs to go back to basics and let men and their machines fight each other rather than the current manufactured system, where there are too many sub rules such as having to use both tyre compounds, some cars must start the race on the tyre they qualified with and so on.

  95. Pierre says:

    Hello James,
    Isn’t it very funny that the FIA, the teams and the engines manufacturers ALL decided a few years ago a unique tyre manufacturer was the right choice because everybody was only talking about tyres and nothing else, and the fact everyone is doing exactly the same now with a unique manufacturer?!!

    Would there be a link with the fact that there is still no agreement with Pirelli for 2014? Any insight about this?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think it will be Pirelli again.

      Tyre companies competing against each other means lots of testing, which means lots of cost and also tough to control speeds

  96. Billy says:

    Hundreds of sensors on a car, but not one to detect fuel level. Seriously?

  97. RainyDay says:

    Aha, a novel way of enforcing team orders. There you go, Mark, any other questions?

  98. ymy says:

    Hi everyone , before i get shot down , has anyone else noticed that lewis locks his inside front more than most drivers and will this have an influence in todays race?. By the way GO KIMI.:)

    1. James Allen says:

      He has always done that, if you look carefully. Braking is one area where Hamilton differentiates himself from other drivers

  99. Torchwood Five says:

    Just had a thought on Red Bull and how impartial they are with their drivers. The 2012 car became successful when it was set up to perform if the car got into clean air after two laps, which was why Vettel was able to charge ahead by really incredible distances.

    At Abu Dhabi – a bit unfairly, I thought – RBR reversed the ‘clean air’ requirement on Seb’s car overnight so that it could come up through the field from the back. So, with Mark at the back of the grid due to the same ‘oversight’, if RBR bother to modify his car in the same way, we can rest assured that they support both drivers; if they don’t, well, they don’t.

  100. Torchwood Five says:

    Cannot see how to edit.

    I wrote Dabhi and Dhabi to see which one looked correct, then Googled the spelling and forgot to knock out the errant version.

  101. Mohan says:

    Hi James,
    There is a lot of complaints about the tires. Why is a tire issue so much talked about when other regulation changes are not?

    When the engine rules change, the teams have to build new engines to suit them. They play with the engine mapping and everything to get the maximum performance.

    When the tires change, they have to do the same. Why are these drivers crying when clearly their teams are not delivering as compared to other teams?

    Also, the qualifying drama is brought about by the rules. The restriction of the number or tires for a grandprix and the rule that every car has to use both the types at least once is the reason for ‘strategic qualifying’. I don’t see a problem. If fans can understand ‘overtaking in the pits’ they are intelligent enough to understand ‘strategic qualifying’.

    If one goes to a grandprix to watch qualifying drama, then they don’t get it. They don’t understand that the rules have changed. F1 is a far more involving and intricate sport than stock car racing where you floor the car and try to win.

  102. Torchwood Five says:

    Well, good news. Christian Horner says they worked on Webber’s car to set it to overtaking; for me that proves Red Bull are being impartial with the drivers.

  103. Richie Duck says:

    Poor Mark got shafted problem with the fuel collector yeah right… Hoping he can drive a cracker of a race pass Vettel and get on the podium

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