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Webber doubles up on pole for Spanish GP as Red Bull smash rivals
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Webber doubles up on pole for Spanish GP as Red Bull smash rivals
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 May 2011   |  2:27 pm GMT  |  132 comments

Mark Webber took his first pole position of the season for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix, repeating his Barcelona pole of last season, ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. The superiority of the Red Bull car was confirmed as the gap between Webber and Hamilton was a second. It was the first pole for the Australian since last September.

However Vettel had a problem with his KERS in qualifying and was forced to run without using it, giving up around 4/10ths of a second. Webber’s margin over him was exactly 2/10ths.

Fernando Alonso managed to split the McLarens for fourth fastest time, despite being told by the FIA that Ferrari was not allowed to use the controversial new rear wing.

There was just 3/100ths of a second separating Hamilton in 3rd, Alonso 4th and Button 5th. It will be the first occasion this season on which Alonso doesn’t start in fifth place.

Amazingly the top five drivers are in exactly the same grid slots as they were for last season’s race. Vitaly Petrov did a strong job to qualify the Renault in 6th place and Pastor Maldonado gave Williams a smile with 9th place, his first time in the top ten.

Of all the races this season so far, this was the one which saw qualifying most affected by strategic thinking on tyre choice. Both Force India cars deliberately threw Q2 by running the hard tyres to give themselves more options for the race. Paul Di Resta is the second fastest car in the speed trap so overtaking won’t be a problem.

Michael Schumacher, whose KERS wasn’t working properly, went out on hard tyres in Q3, didn’t set a lap, but it encouraged the other top ten runners to go out and use up a set of soft tyres.

The problem with the hard tyres being so much slower than the softs certainly created some issues for some of the front runners, with Ferrari and Mercedes obliged to burn up a set of soft tyres to get through. In the end only Heikki Kovalainen of the new teams managed to make it through into Q2, a great reward for all the hard work the Lotus team. His time was faster than Felipe Massa’s hard tyre time, but Alonso and the two Mercedes drivers were not threatened by Kovalainen. Despite Nick Heidfeld looking unlikely to do a lap, due to damage from a fire on the morning, they clearly felt insecure and have put themselves on the back foot for the race with less new soft tyres than their rivals.

Also surprising was the gap between Mercedes and McLaren on hard tyres, which was over a second.

Along with Heidfeld who didn’t manage to get out, Rubens Barrichello was knocked out too, only able to do five laps due to a gearbox problem,
“The car is not competitive and it’s never running so it’s a bit of a mess right now,” said a very disgruntled Barrichello.

That was not the evidence of his team mate’s performance; Pastor Maldonado getting through into the top ten shootout in the updated Williams. He was the standout performer from the Q2 session and he ended up in 9th place, Williams’ best qualifying of the season.

In the second part of qualifying when they all used the soft tyre, Force India went for the hard tyre, essentially giving up on qualifying to focus on the race. They haven’t had the best of times this weekend, with correlation issues between what they thought their updates would give them and what they actually have given.

In Q3 we saw more tactical thinking, Michael Schumacher opted to run the hard tyres, but didn’t complete the lap, so he has the option to start on either tomorrow.

Webber seemed underwhelmed by pole position, competitor that he is, he was unsatisfied that his success had come about because of reliability issues for his team mate.

Vettel seemed relaxed and said that he felt the KERS would work in the race.

“Yes we are working hard on the KERS, but it’s not right to say that I didn’t have KERS and so that is why Mark is on pole, ” said Vettel “Mark did a better job today. It seems to be a bit of an endless story, the KERS, but the guys are pushing hard. We can’t speak of big disappointment.”

Although Red Bull are on a different planet in qualifying, it is always closer in the race, because they cannot use the DRS wing in the corners. It should be a fierce race tomorrow between the four leading cars with strategy likely to be the key.

The drivers who have taken a different tactic, like Schumacher or who qualified out of position, like Heidfeld who can now use three new sets of softs in a four stop strategy, will also be worth watching.

SPANISH GRAND PRIX, Barcelona, Qualifying
1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m20.981s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m21.181s + 0.200
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m21.961s + 0.980
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.964s + 0.983
5. Jenson Button McLaren 1m21.996s + 1.015
6. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m22.471s + 1.490
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m22.599s + 1.618
8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m22.888s + 1.907
9. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.952s + 1.971
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes

11. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m23.231s + 1.691
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m23.367s + 1.827
13. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m23.694s + 2.154
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m23.702s + 2.162
15. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m25.403s + 3.863
16. Paul di Resta Force India 1m26.126s + 4.586
17. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m26.571s + 5.031

18. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m26.521s + 3.561
19. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m26.910s + 3.950
20. Timo Glock Virgin 1m27.315s + 4.355
21. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m27.809s + 4.849
22. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m27.908s + 4.948
23. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m28.556s + 5.596
24. Nick Heidfeld Renault No time

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Heidfeld has been disappointing in the races he has had to come through the field so far this year. Surely he will start on hard tyres and use the 3 new sets of softs later in the race to make his way through the field.


The days of the thrilling qualy last minute showdown are well and truely over aren't they? Surely fewer people will tune in or go to the tracks to watch something that even the drivers do not feel is all that important? We are now at the stage where drivers do not even feel it worth taking part in various sessions ala Force India and Schumi. That has to be be bad no matter which way you look at it. Drivers have to be given an extra set of tyres which are for qualy use only to encourage the shoot out. Awful that we were deprived of the rbr drivers fighting each other for pole because they just didnlt consider it worth their while.


and now we're going to have to invent another bizarre rule for qualy to make it interesting again.... further and further down the slippery slope of lunacy f1 descends.

This race is already going to be a circus show thanks to the crazy gap between the tyres.

Sigh, what are you guys doing to our sport!


Rule that's needed is simple. Can't save Saturday's tires for Sunday except for the set on the car.


Here here!


I think it's quite a simple fix actually, and it is reversing a silly rule that was invited - don't make the teams hand back any tyres after practice and then they will have enough soft tyres for quali and the race.

Patrick Byrne

Webber looked utterly ****ed off in the press conference. I have never seen such an unhappy driver on pole! Obviously this is mostly down to Vettel being only 2/10ths slower where the KERs is worth approx 4/10ths. Is there another reason though? Alex Wurz has tweeted than an interview with Marko on RTL indicated a clear bias within the team.

And what about Ferrari? Brundle and co keep harping on about the disadvantage in using a set of softs in Q1 but is this type of soft tyre wear over-emphisised? Newey seemed to hint at this in a recent interview on BBC and Ferrari are quite easy on their tyres anyway...


How many times has Weber been pipped for pole by Vettel because Marks KERS was playing up. The 4 tenths would have giving Webber another pole this year if his was working properly the whole time.


I like Mark Webber, but he seems really unhappy this year. I've always thought of him as a straight shooter, although he has become a bit of a winger this year. He seems to use every media interview as a forum to take a shot at Vettel or the team or says how he wished the placings could have been around the other way (an obvious thing to think - you just don't say it in an interview, as it comes across as sour grapes). It's probably got a lot to do with the performance of both drivers this year, but Vettel appears much more composed and at ease in interviews than Webber - he's certainly matured this year and Mark seems very unsettled. There definitely seems like there is something not quite right at RBR - things have got a little bit more serious than they used to be!


My Perspective is that he's been disappointed with the outcome and gap. To state the obvious and wish the result were reversed is natural. By my recollection he has said on each occasion that vettel had done a good job. That doesn't represent winging in my eyes.


To be honest, both look tense this year. I though Vettel would be more relaxed after winning the title but in all my dealings with him and when you see him about pre-race he seems tense. Interestingly when he gets to the post race unilateral interview room after the race and he's won, then he's back to being light again. It's interesting. His true character is coming out now I think, he's a serious guy who knows he has a target on his back


I could think off a reason Mark was not happy, that the team actually considered sending Seb back out to have another go.

Look at Turkey there was no chance that Mark was going to be allowed a second run but in Barcelona the team was considering it.


Excellent Suggestion


I wonder if that was Mark being just Mark or whether there was something specific that was affecting his mood?


no one in the team seem to be happy with Mark pole.


Totally agree - the whole team looked as if they lost pole to another team - it's blatantly obvious - they don't care 2 hoots about Webber - they certainly don't want him to win tomorrow.


why should they be? He only got it on a fluke, and Vettel was looking at his 6th straight pole and gettng close to Senna's record of 8


Agree. The pit wall showed no excitement at all. Compared to when the big V is on pole it was quite a contrast.


Vettel still smiled a few times in the interview 🙂


Thanks James. As usual, the best analysis of quali I've found.

One simple (I hope) request. Is there any chance you could post a list after quali of how many fresh sets of softs each driver now has left for the race? Or tell us where to go to find that out? I'm picking through your report (and others) trying to piece it together, but it's not too easy. (Case in point - does Schumacher have an extra set over the other Q3 cars because he only ran hards in Q3, one less because he ran a set in Q1, or the same number for both those reasons?)

I know you'll see where I'm coming from with this. Either way, please keep up the great work.


No fresh sets:

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg, Vitaly Petrov, Pastor Maldonado, Kamui Kobayashi, Sergio Perez, Jaime Alguersuari

1 fresh set:

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher, Sebastien Buemi, Heikki Kovalainen, Jarno Trulli, Narain Karthikeyan, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Timo Glock, Jerome D’Ambrosio

2 fresh sets:

Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta

3 fresh sets:

Rubens Barrichello

4 fresh sets:

Nick Heidfeld 4


Thank you.

Where did you get the info from? And (if it's not somewhere we can look ourselves), can you post it here or somewhere for us for the next races?


Thanks for sharing.



If that info is available could be very interesting to share it...


Could I second that?


RBR were a similar distance ahead in quali last year but Hamilton managed to at least keep them honest.

But you can't help but feel that RBR are far more comfortable with being such a dominant team, and aren't going to make the mistakes that nearly lost them the title last year.

It's nice to see Webber challenging, but surely unless some kind of miracle happens Vettel is going to have the title won with many races to spare.


Seb makes the comment that he believes that his KERS will be working on sunday. I would have thought that the car was under parc ferme and that repairs to the KERS would not be allowed. I understand that the system may be charged/dischared/removed but can see no allowance for repair/replacement.

Congrats to Webber on his first pole for 2011.


Repair is allowed in parc ferme


At least in parc ferme they cant 'repair' Sebsunit by switching it with Marks...


1) what is inboard ferme?

2) Mclaren into turn two.

3) no one used the soft set of tyres Q1-Q2 :<(

4) if Webber wins it is not a disaster.

5) Vettel can not be on the podium.

6) if Webber does not beat Vettel soon surely the rest hand him the title :<(

7) not looking forward to watching the race tomorrow night (going indoor skiing sunday).



The gimmicks are just making the faster cars faster (seb' kers excepted).


It was a little disheartening to see Mark's head drop after Sebastian confirmed the KERS problem during post-quali. press conf. He will need to beat him on the track tomorrow to gather any real confidence from this weekend. Chin up son!



can you please tell us how long does it takes to pit in the race



What a Super Lap that was from Alonso... Considering where they were after FP3. Just 3/1000's of a Second behind Hamilton and nearly 1 Second in front of Massa speaks Volumes. Totally Unexpected, as said by Stefano. But sadly it's not the kind of stuff we want to hear from the Ferrari Boss after they expected to make a Big Step Forward with the Upgrades. Now, i just hope that Alonso,s Tyre Situation is not that Bad and most importantly he does not mess up his Start as he has done in every Race this Season. Is the Dirty Side a big disadvantage on this Track ?


Yes James I am glad you pointed out the difference between Vettel / Webber in relation to the difference caused by KERS. Vettel was a solid two tenths quicker on genuine pace so I don't think this is a Webber "comeback" yet.

I always tend to root for the better talent in each team so I will be hoping Vettel can turn the deficit around in the race. The fact of the matter is Webber is a good driver and Vettel is exceptional. I don't want to see Webber's comparative lack of skill rewarded because he had better equipment than his teammate.


You mean like what happened when it was the other round and Mark had the problems with KERS and Vettel optimised 😉


Well let me be clear: I think that there's now enough evidence to suggest that Vettel is faster than Webber. Not only has he beaten Webber for the last two seasons, but when both have had working cars Vettel has tended to have the edge.

If a car problem extenuates a gap that's already there, whilst it might not do Webber favours, it's only perpetuating the set up that already exists. When it's the other way around, though, it actually swaps the order - in other words, it has a bigger impact.


Hahaa, it appears I was wrong, I was so excited yesterday thinking Mclaren had pulled a rabbit out the hat but it appears instead of upgrades, they brought downgrades instead coz hey, the gap was supposed to go the other way.

I suggest Mclaren & the rest just focus on the 2012 season NOW for Red Bull have them covered for whatever upgrades they put out, Red Bull will just counter their moves

Anyway congratulations to Webber on a fantastic pole position but knowing of Vettel's problems, it must feel a hollow pole for him more so seeing as he just beat him by two tenths - Yes Vettel is a monster over one lap but so glad Senna's record still stands.

Hope Lewis can outdrag Vettel into the first corner tomorrow, being on the clean side & all but why is it Hammy can never make up his mind at the start - Can't decide whether to go right or left & it seems Jenson is the person that's always impeded by Hamilton's indecision

Also congrats to Alonso I most definitely didn't expect to see him in Q4 more so just 3 thousandths down from Hammy - Yes, am not going to sleep too good tonight.

Other great performances, Heikki, Di Resta & Perez.

Anyway since Webber has already won this, the real race is who & who will emerge second.

Am thinking Alonso because I can picture lots of Spanish fans pull out their Hamilton voodoo dolls.

P.s. This means Vettel & Webber will be leading the WDC standings Red Bull 1-2. How cool is that


Some tracks suit some cars more than others and a deficit of 4/10ths at one might be a whole second - or more - at others?

If the teams develop at the same rate, the underlying deficit will remain, track to track; it requires the pursuing teams to make bigger steps than RB in order to catch up.


"I suggest Mclaren & the rest just focus on the 2012 season NOW for Red Bull have them covered for whatever upgrades they put out, Red Bull will just counter their moves"

Not seen any regulation changes for next year yet. So in theory developing this years car is developing next years car too. It would be nice to see an evolutionary year next year rather than more "Improve the show" changes.

On the sublect of improvng the show; we need another set of softs gifted to Q3 runners. Qually is getting a bit boring, especially Q3



We Mclaren supporters have much to worry about.


So true, but there's nothing a little espionage can't fix. Have heart, help is on the way


Yesterday, you've been too optimistic and I didn't want to comment to avoid accusations of anti-McLaren behavior.

I think that McLaren brought updates which worked well, but RBR brought updates as well that's why the gap didn't vanish. Don't blame McLaren for their developments, blame RBR for keeping up the development race.

They can't focus on 2012 already because of the rules continuity, developments made this year are relevant to next year's car so they have to keep working on their current challenger. It's important as well for the standings, the team morale, the sponsors, etc...


But how could Mclaren's downgrades have worked well when Infact the deficit increased or maybe you meant to say, the updates will need time to jell with the rest of the car.

But either way, Whitmarsh should stop talking the way he does for he puts lots of unrealistic ideas in our heads.



(Without trying to sound patronising) Well done you!!! I refer to your first line above - no one is perfect, not me certainly... but it takes a big person to say "I got it wrong". You have passion and that's fantastic 🙂

Red Bull are always exceptionally fast in quali; I feel it'll be closer in the race (well, I certainly hope so - I'm looking for a Macca KERS driven bullet into first place at the first corner) - but we shall see in a few hours 🙂

Conrad M. Sathirweth

James, any idea why the Mclaren was so slow in the first sector? In Q3 the Mclaren was the slowest through sector 1 out of all the cars that ran.


I suspect it is most likely to be a handling imbalance in turn 3. As the cars accelerate through it, it could apply at only the end of the corner and not apply to tighter turn 4 and whatever the fifth last turn is called.

I'll be interested to see if we get cars passing into turn 4 in the race - new softs vs old hards would make it relatively easy if the car in front has a balance issue.


It looks as if RBR is faster & is in the position which allows them to control the race. As usual, the startegy will be the key tomorrow, if RBR gets it right they will hardly be challenged. The other issue is the run down the straight at the start : will KERS work for Vettel, it has to as he's on the dusty side of the grid ?

If the circuit isn't too hard on tyres, I think that the teams will go for 3 stop strategy as it is the one that allows the minimum number of laps on useless hard tyres.

If the safety car shows up, Michael Schumacher will be on the podium because he will get rid of the hard tyre penalty behind the safety car, so nice gamble from Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton flat spot is a huge issue you didn't mention James, not only will it put him on a very delicate 1st stint but it might force him to pit very early and to make the following stints last longer which is never good. He said it wasn't an issue, we'll see.

Alonso performance was a stunner in Qualies today but 4th on the grid with his average starts might prove not such a good omen. I'll be surprised if Button & 1 or 2 others don't overtake him at the start.


Hi Jo,

The useless hards are still needed if view that the softs will only last 10-12 laps is accurate. So if Schumi stopped on lap 5, that would leave 3 twenty lap stints on softs. I suspect the degradation on the softs will be enough that the hards will be needed. The front runners have been favouring more stops over fewer tactically, so from limited analysis from a vanage point in Canberra, I'll go with 4 stops - Soft - fresh soft - soft - fresh hard and fresh hard for those with that tyre bank available.




I did not watch qualifying. A full second of a gap between Massa and Alonso. Would anybody know why?


Alonso was just too good. A magic lap.


Rubens "off the cliff"


Some shrink should study the Barrichello case as the Brazilian is really becoming a pity with his never ending list of complaints against his team, the rules, the drivers, etc...

Today Maldonado -not the best rookie- qualified 9th on a car Rubens accuses of being “....not competitive and it’s never running so it’s a bit of a mess right now”

He should apologize to his team publicly for that. They're in a very delicate situation and Rubens is throwing salt on injuries. Schumcher is not delivering but at least he is decent.

I truly think that this should be Rubens last year in F1. Farewell to the driver whose best achievement was beating the Stig.


I've found with Rubens, that generally he backs the team (even when it's not going right for him) for the majority of the time - ie, he puts a brave face on. But sometimes he can't be bothered (or the issues reach a level where he feels he has to say something) and tells it how it is... I'd prefer to see reality and honesty from drivers; but realise that 95% of the time they are being candid, watching their words etc, etc for fear of upsetting some partner or manager or someone or indeed being accused of causing negativity.



I remember seeing Rubens at the public launch of a car that turned out to be a dog, and he was practically invisible. Kept disappearing off privately, I wondered he wasn't pressing the flesh. Later in the year, I imagined that he knew what kind of season he was in for, and couldn't face going through the motions of feigned confidence.


The reason why he is 19th and rookie who has crashed in more GP weekends than not is because Barichello didn't set a competitive time on the soft tyres to get him through his gear box broke. Which is a team car problem not a driver... i.e. Barichello was right about that.

And btw, the decent Schumacher qualified more than a second off the pass of his non GP winning team mate


What should be say then? "I'm really happy to be 19th on the grid, with the cars that have never seen the inside of a wind tunnel, the team whose budget is £5 and the guy whose car caught on fire earlier on. I'm particularly thrilled that the gearbox broke and I'm looking forward to further failures of this kind in the forthcoming races."

Very few of the upgrades that Williams throws at the car are working (exhausts, for example). The technical director has quit, along with the chief aerodynamicist. The car goes nowhere in the races, chews its tyres and doesn't have all the same tricks as cars with other engines in. How is that not a mess? How is the car competitive? If you'd actually been paying attention to previous races, qualifying really doesn't matter quite so much nowadays. Are you really expecting Pastor M. to be ninth at the finish?

I wonder if Michael Schumacher is quite so "decent" in private? Perhaps it's because Rosberg is delivering and he - unfortunately - isn't?

People complain when drivers act like automatons, and when drivers like Rubens or Webber actually show some personality and some passion, they moan some more.

Have you ever thought about running an F1 team? You're obviously wasted on here.

Rich In Norway

A bit harsh.


Totally agree. It does nothing good for team morale to have the driver publicly decrying them.

Won't he look silly if his stock of fresh 'softs' propels him into the points tomorrow? As it should.


Well done Mark, amazing and well done Seb for not blaming Kers when in all reality you should have blamed Kers.


Well, Vettel did blame KERS... he then said no it was nothing to do with that... but then reneged (again) to say, he wasn't happy about not having KERS. So which was it!?!? 😉


I agree. I think Seb made a genuine effort with that comment. I expect Mark to beat him in the race as well.


I agree. Seb didnt rain on Marks parade. Mark has said some good things about Seb this year and congratulated him where appropriate. We all know the young guy hates to finish second, regardless of the reason but was magnanimous today. I'm a Mark Webber fan and was very pleased to see him take pole. I still believe that reliability aside, Seb will win the race convincingly. He's in the form of him life and Mark is only just hitting his stride. Too hard to pick the other podium position though.


Red Bulls unstoppable. I think Alonso´s lap has been incredible. 1 sec of difference between him and Massa. I can´t believe such a difference in one single lap.


Absolute BS - Ferrari shouting and screaming about getting 4th on the grid - Get it into context ....... nobody is ever happy with 4th but Alonso and SD and their propaganda .... Smile is OK saying we did better and it was a good lap but not saying all that crap.


That might say far more about Massa than Alonso.


Yeah, because god forbid we ever say anything positive about Alonso...


Laughable: so it's not a great drive by Fernando, but a poor performance by Massa. It looks like Ferrari failed to notice this, Damian:

"Spanish GP - Alonso phenomenal: a perfect lap delivers fourth place"



Getting excited about 4th in Qualy after a podium in Turkey?

Whilst Alonso may have had a good lap, was Massa's time a benchmark performance? I doubt that one second could be fully attributed to one driver's performance....as I said, some of that was due to Massa's slower time.

And quoting a Ferrari website? They would say that would n't they after signing up Alonso for eternity?


I hope Massa doesn't read the Ferrari website. Alonso did a 'perfect' lap which probably gained him one position from just a solid drive, qualifying 4th just isn't that big a story when he's driving a Ferrari.


Just waiting for the fair and well informed British media and fans to comment on the last Q3 lap by Alonso (nothing remarkable I guess) and also to raise an scandal after the ban of Ferrari's rear wing because of "breaching the spririt of the norm", after having admited it on Thursday and after allowing two years flex front wing and F-Ducts...

This sport is a joke guys


Hopefully Vettel won't have KERS and we'll see what he can do after getting swamped at the start.

Great lap from Alonso, I'd like to see a side to side with Massa to see just how good it was. Obviously the best track to have you rear-wing banned since they already have so much data.

Can't see him finishing above 5th, unless they Bulls or Macs have a problem, after he used an extra-set of softs in Q1.

Why do people comment on the BBC coverage of Ferrari? Most of the other teams are based in Britain with British enginneers and are obviously going to get more coverage. If you think the BBC are anti-Ferrari take a look at some Andrew Benson's droolings about Alonso.


not to wish a failure on anyone, but wouldn't that be interesting. seeing how seb could come back from say 19th would, for me, be more insightful in terms of making comparisons between mark and seb, than conclusions based on 2 tenths over one lap.


Not complaining about BBC specially, they are generally a very correct media. But I think this lap and the blow from FIA just before the qualifying are two of the highlights of the day, and sadly the heavy bias in the British "side" makes them simply ignore it. That is not helping to evaluate properly the championship. Nobody says nothing about "Ferrari International Aid" today, nobody says nothing about Alonso being so bad in qualifying. Hamilton even said they achieved to be ahead of Ferrari as if he had done a masterful drive... my god, their car was quicker by a mile!

And Benson is drooling when he says something good from Alonso right?... so hard to understand he likes him as a pilot when Fernando is regarded as the best when asked both to pilots and team leaders...

In the end, time puts everyone in its right place so if people just wants to ignore the facts and just attack Ferrari/Alonso like children its their problem, but it hurts to see so much hate and fear, it really doesn't say nothing good from many people


If you hope British media to say anything unbiased about Ferrari and/or Alonso... well, keep waiting.

Something similar happens with Spanish TV "La Sexta" - sometimes I feel Spanish shame how everything Fernando does is perfect in their eyes.

Probably this blog is one of the very few unbiased sites related to F1 worldwide...


While I agree its a great lap from Alonso, To expect it to make the headlines and blaming the media for is just expecting too much. Mainstream media will only ever talk about podium positions, Virgin could have grabbed 4th and no one but us would give a damn.

I love this angle on Ferrari being some little underdog oppressed by the FIA. They have been given championships in recent years, their own guy runs the FIA. Give me a break.


Whether we have the wrong kind of technology or not (your previous blog entry) is open to argument but most fans I've talked to agree that we have the wrong kind of qualifying.

This has been made worse by the fact that up until this season, especially at the Spanish GP, it was often more exciting than the race. One certainly hopes - for one's own sake let alone the credibility of F1 - that this is not the case for this race.

How can the best part of an hour of GP cars on the track be so boring? And more to the point, how can one driver not bother to try and entertain the crowd and still be praised?

Those fans have paid money to see drivers. Yet, it seems, they are frightened of going out on the circuit.

We've had some really exciting races this season but the qually for Spain was dire.

I'm a big fan of your blog, James, as I hope you know, but I have to take issue with one comment: we did not see tactical thinking. We saw a Mercedes cruise round the circuit and pull into the pits. It was a clear admission that Rosberg was the faster Merc driver.

Well, F1 rules makers, you've some midnight oil to burn before Monaco. Please sort out this farce.


The reason Quali was so boring is simply becasu Red Bull are so dominant they can afford to run at the beginning of the session, instead of waiting to the last minute when there is the most grip. McLaren too thought they would be clear of the rest of the field but Alonso proved otherwise, giving us something to enjoy with what was probably the lap of the season so far.

I have high hopes of an entertaining race tomorrow (perhaps Melbourne like?), but with the kind of pace Red Bull has, there is no rule that will make races and specially quali more interesting unless you write "if your car is designed by Adrian Newey, you shall start from the back of the field".


(A) I'd rather have a thrilling race than a thrilling qualifying. In the past, F1 weekends used to end on Saturdays …

(B) I'd have to agree with Eddy Jordan. Schumacher is doing a Lauda here. He might not be as fast as Rosberg. But he can make use of his experience & racecraft. Schumacher has the best cards for tomorrow. He saved a set of tyres and he can still choose his tyres for the race. He has outsmarted his rivals 🙂


Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post.

I accept your point (A) of course. There can be few who wouldn't although I would suggest that each is not mutually exclusive. Surely the best thing to have is a thrilling qualifying and an equally exciting race.

Perhaps MSc's position on the grid and choice of tyres might give him lots of overtaking opportunites for the TV to focus on.

My point is that this year's regs have killed qualifying. MSc's move might well have been inspired but it robbed the fans, especially those who had taken the trouble to turn up, of a run. Or perhaps two.

Should the main concern during qualifying be husbanding the tyres?

Some years I didn't have enough money to go to the British GP on race day and instead had to make do with the practice. Given the prices nowadays I would assume my position has become something of the norm. I'm not sure I would have felt I'd had my money's worth today. I've been hit by the recession to an extent and have had two grandchildren born this year. I cannot afford any day this British GP. Had I been able the Saturday I would have thought seriously about it after today.

My point about MSc, and one that I stand by, is that if MSc could have qualified in front of Rosberg then he would have gone out. It was not a tactical move so much as making the best of a bad job.

I just disagreed with James' interpretation. I feel sure that he is man enough to accept my comment without rancour. Even I don't take a lot of notice of what I say so I would accept him following my example. I know little about F1. I'm just a fan. But I know about tactics.

There is a difference between a tactical ploy and what MSc did. It may be subtle but it is very real. I don't find it comfortable watching him this season, or last come to that. I bet he wasn't comfortable conceeding that Rosberg was the faster driver.

One point I'd like to mention. You used the plural 'rivals'. I can't help thinking that he has only one target in his crosshairs.


I'd have to disagree with you.

F1 in 2011 is like Darwinism:

It is not about survival of the fittest (read: fastest) but it is about those that are best able to adapt to the changing conditions.

Which I like a lot 🙂


I do not get your line of thinking..

MSC was #1 after Q1.

Also in all the driver's circuits last year, Barcelona, Silverstone, Suzuka, he fared better than his team mate.

And finally, if i were Rosberg, up and coming, wanting to land employment as a #1 driver in any team, I would be very worried that a 41 year old is only a tenth slow.


I don't always agree with what you say, but I always enjoy reading your comments nevertheless.


ALonso was simply outstanding today. Surprising Ja,es didnt mention much about the home hero


You obviously were not expecting much from Ferrari iin Barcelona to arrive at that conclusion inspite of Alonso's comparable qualifying performances in previous races.


You didn't follow FP3/Quali from Ferrari's angle I guess. Today it was a day for 7th place in case of beating Massa. According to Alonso he could not improve that lap in twenty attempts...


It is very clear that the Ferrari is at best the third-fastest car at present. In qualifying trim the Renault is possibly quicker as well. The fact that Alonso qualified with a lap that was within 3/1000ths of Hamilton's lap speaks volumes about the quality of his lap.


Stunning lap by Alonso, after all the problem with the banned wing and the setup, 4th it's like magic to Ferrari.

Very good job by Webber and Heikki too.


James, do you know if McLaren had problems with their KERS, as Whitmarsh says they couldn't use it to its optimum.

Whitmarsh: "In actual fact they may have been a little quicker had they gone out when it was less breezy, and had we been able to get our KERS Hybrid up to optimal operating temperature"

Also, why were McLaren so slow in sector 1? Hamilton 12th and Button 9th fastest.


The KERS comment suggests that the drivers where not able to get the charge up to 150% so they didn't have the full 60 kW for 3.33s on the run to the start finish line before getting the 100% quota replenished at the start of the lap. This would mean a slight drop in time down the front straight, but still quicker than the Red Bulls.

Re the sector 1 times, I suspect turn 3 is the answer, but will have to look at what the cars do there in the race. I suspect the car is imbalanced towards the exit, so the run to turn 4 is slow.




I'm bothered by the fact that tyre allocation is killing competition this year. The faster teams (redbull and sometimes mclaren) can afford to save a set of softs for the race, which means they'll be faster in the race as well. Granted, it makes for interesting strategy in the midfield, but is that really worth anything if the red bulls are 30 seconds ahead?


"I’m bothered by the fact that tyre allocation is killing competition this year"


It's great that the Pirellis go off and we get fresh vs old tyre battles and gambles on more / less pitstop strategies. And maybe "killing competition" is a bit strong.


- I want to see people going for it in quali, and not holding back to save tyres; and

- I want everyone to have as many sets of tyres as they want, and let us see which cars and drivers go quickest, or make them last best, and how the tradeoff between those works on a level playing field.

The overhang of who has and who hasn't got fresh sets left is too much complexity to be able to track the race with.


I am afraid that, up to date, that has not happened, and in several races this year, the front contenders have arrived with not such a big time difference.

If RB can save a pair of softs... it is because they are faster, and if they are faster they are going to end first anyway, so I do not see how this is unfair. Same thing we could say about RB been able to run on more conservative engine maps... they can do it because they are faster than the rest.

When you are faster, you gain degrees of freedom and a wise strategist would use them. That has happened in F1 for decades.


Time differences alone do not tell the whole story, as Vettel probably could have been 30 seconds ahead of third place in Turkey had he and his team chosen to. Anyway, in every race except China the driver in 4th was 25 seconds or more from the leader.

Fastest in quali does not mean fastest in the race, and certainly didn't use to imply you'll finish first. Obviously with the tyre allocation rules, the fastest cars can carry some of their qualifying speed to the race. In effect it makes the faster cars even faster (relatively speaking), without any extra engineering effort from the team. Technical mishaps at the front have less effect. A driver at the front can afford a bad pit-stop. He can afford to flat-spot a tyre and not lose position because the mid-field is too far back on their worn-out softs.

The rule may not be unfair to any team but it's inconvenient to me, the spectator. Since F1 is a spectator sport, rules should benefit me and not any team's strategist. Now instead of trying to ban a legitimate piece of engineering work like the blown diffuser engine mappings, the FIA should cut back on the "bonus multipliers", which are the DRS qualifying rule and the tyre allocation rule.



Yes, position was king last year, but I was referring more to the early-mid 2000s, when you could put on any tyre you wanted. What I was ultimately trying to say was that the gap between front-runners and the midfield has increased, partly because of tyre allocation.

What's your opinion on this, James?


Not sure I agree with you here. On Bridgestones the pole man had a bigger advantage than he does today, all engineers agree on that, so how do you arrive at your conclusion in para 2?


James, what I dont undertsand is Mark must be heavier than Seb. So how does this work?




Ha,Ha, Very funny


The cars still weigh the same, it's just that Webber has less ballast to play with than his team mate.


Is it like the horse racing where balast is added to bring all teams up to the same weight?


Pole time is 1 second slower than last year, should be 1 second faster!

Stop trying to slow the cars down and give them a box of dimensions the car has to fit in, a weight minimum, and either a fixed amount of fuel or a displacement limit!

Andrew Woodruff

Having thought a bit more about that idea in my insomnia, just imagine the possibilities!

On the engine front, back to the old 3.5 litre V10 days, and why not bolt on a turbo charger and unlimited KERS for good measure.

In terms of aero and mechanical design, just bring back everything that has ever been, and is soon to be, banned! The list goes on and on:

- Double blown diffusers with maximum off-throttle exhaust mapping hocus pocus;

- Fully flexible and adjustable front and rear wings;

- The floors of the cars optimised for ground effect;

- No restriction on front and rear wing and winglet design (other than they can't make the car look 'ugly');

- Active suspension off the 92/93 Williams;

- Brake steering off the 98/99 McLaren;

- Mass damper off the 05/06 Renault;

- Traction and launch control...

There are probably a lot more things that I have forgotten about.

Add to that super sticky slick qualifying tyres from Michelin, the most powerful brakes imaginable from Brembo, and the driver of your choice from any era - I'll take Senna, light the fuse and see what happens!

I suppose the likelihood is that, 1) the quickest possible car wouldn't be the one with all of those things, but the one that optimised the best combination of them for the lowest weight; and 2) the limiting factor, ultimately, would be the driver.


Google Red Bull X1 . It was a theoretical car with no design restrictions. It made it into the latest Gran Turismo game.

Andrew Woodruff

Has anyone ever asked Adrian Newey, and his opposite number in the world of engine design, how fast they could make a car go round a track with all but the most basic design restrictions removed?!

What would be a good yard stick? A sub 60-second lap of Silverstone perhaps??!

part time viewer

he has been asked and has designed a car for th ps3 game gt5.

i forget its name, but when interviewed newey does say that it would be almost undrivable due to the massive g forces


Google red bull x2010 and you will see! It was a prototype designed by Newey for Gran turismo 5.



I think the quickest player of the weekend was Charlie Whiting & FIA. He banned Ferrari's rear wing really fast. Interesting if you think we are talking about a rule that could be interpretated in different ways. Easy for them I guess. Justice in F1 it's a question of faith because the facts, time after time differes beetwen drivers who are involved. More or less the same quickness it takes to published "edited videos" at FOM's website depending on who the winner is.


think Levis will be 1st after turn 1, Weber 2nd, Vetel 3rd, Alonso retains 4th against Jenson 50%, but winner will be SV

Andrew Woodruff

A very strange qualifying session in my opinion - this certainly isn't a consequence of easier overtaking in the race that anyone predicted! It is totally rational though, which is a shame because last gasp quali used to be one of the best parts of the weekend.

I think they need to consider removing the consequential link between tyre use in Q3 and the race. Qualifying must be about raw speed and the simple logic of wanting to start as close to the front of the grid as possible. Surely even the restrictive FIA rule makers can see that.

My solution: two additional fresh sets of soft Pirellis for all cars in Q3, that are ring fenced for use only in that session and cannot be used again in the race. I know F1's purse strings are a lot tighter than they used to be, but surely we can afford 80 extra tyres a race?


I had the same idea, although I'd make it that you get just one extra set of quali-only softs if you make it into Q3.


Alonso had said that home crowd's support only worths 0.1 sec (when asked about Mansel's quote that it worths 1 sec). What a laugh!

Very interesting tomorrow at the start of the race. Vettel will start from the dirty side of the grid and maybe with defective KERS (I doubt they can fix such serious re-current problem overnight without compromising the rest of the car).

Hamilton has a good shot at the win if he starts well.


Maybe Fernando doesn't think much of the home fans !


I am sure he does. He chose his 2006 win there as his favourite race ever, for the BBC website. But 1sec in Mansel's era is the equivalent of a 0.1sec today...?


'1sec in Mansel's era is the equivalent of 0.1sec today' ???

I don't THINK so.....

May I ask, which year did you start watching motor racing?


Hamilton can expect some troubles at the start of the race or with a less than ideal strategy due to flatspotting a tyre on his fastest Q3 time.

If he has to pit earlier he may have to add an extra stop. I would really surprised if he finishes better than 5th.


James, having said that if you do not have KERS on your car it can cost you as much as 4/10ths, do you know having talked to people up and down the paddock how much it would potentially cost a car if they didnt have the blown exhaust thingie??


Yes but James, Webber went out last so he only had to beat Vettel's time.

Remember Webber is number 2, So if Vettel Fails, Its Webber's job to step in.

"Good job Webber"


Is there any way of finding out (reliably) what tyres were used by each driver during each of the practice and qualifyung stints? I've started trying to unpick the laptimes over long practice stints (eg http://f1datajunkie.blogspot.com/2011/05/f1-2011-spain-free-practice-tyres.html ) using fuel corrected laptimes, but I'm still way too much of a novice to know what (if anything) I can read in to them?


Ferrari's new rear wing gets banned - so much for the FIA being on their side!

As for the potential change in feeding fuel to the exhaust when the throttle is not being activated by the driver, Ferrari was not the team to raise the issue with the FIA. Surely a few people who made comments suggesting otherwise need to offer their apologies?


Great lap from Webber, but strangely Vettel appeared to be the happier of the two drivers afterwards.


Not so excited at the prospect of watching tomorrow's standard Sunday afternoon RB 1-2...with a bit of luck Webber will clinch it so we don't have to listen to Vettel's ever so slightly annoying end of race shriek to his engineer: 'that's what I'm talking it about'


Hi James,

I believe your comment about Red Bull using DRS where others cannot in qualifying but not the race is far too simplistic.

If we look at all last season the one lap gap in Q3 was bigger than the in-race per lap gap. This came from the downforce load that the Red Bulls had then and have now wearing out the tyres more quickly, so the drivers have to manage that by driving to a lesser percentage of the car's ultimate speed for its current fuel mass and tyre condition. By comparison the Mercedes engine benefit and F-duct had no penalty in race conditions and had the benefit of facilitating passing, which allowed more optimal strategies.

Also I suspect the difference in engine modes between qualifying and normal race / fuel saving is much greater for the Renault than the Mercedes engine. Red Bull's step up in speed from Q2 to Q3 is often commented on. The drivers will push more, but the engines play a large part. Also the engine mode differences that contributed to Vettel's pass on Webber in Turkey and Webber on Hulkenberg in Monza don't seemed to be as large with other engines.

I don't by any means fully understand the exhaust blown diffusers, but the aim is to aim to get the exit air back to atmospheric pressure as soon as possible, maximising the downforce generated by the floor. The centre of the downforce generated by the floor will be close to the centre of pressure of the entire car. So if the Red Bulls are going through corners with the corners with the wing open, it suggests that the car is torque rather than grip limited as otherwise the car would be an oversteering mess on exit, hurting the speed down the next straight.

If we consider the benefit, it will be pretty small. The DRS cuts the drag by the equivalent of 60-80 kW when the car is at maximum speed. In a turn such as Campsa, if we say the Red Bulls are doing 240 km/h, then at this speed the car is using less than half its engine power to overcome aerodynamic drag. At this speed, the Reb Bull's advantage would give an acceleration gain of about 10 per cent over a very short period. At this speed 1 g of acceleration is probably close enough right, so this would be a gain of 3 km/h for every second the DRS is open when the other cars cannot. When you consider in the same corner the Red Bulls are going through the corner 10-15 km/h faster anyway, the dominant advantage is in corner speed. In the slow corners the benefit is less, but so is the Red Bull's corner speed advantage.

The DRS helps, otherwise the drivers wouldn't bother, but I think the tyres are the real factor here - how the drivers exploit them and how increased downforce increases wear.




Stinks to see Vettel's pole streak end and not his fault...

I guess he can feel good that when he lacked KERS he took 2nd... Mark could not get out of Q1 in Chins with no KERS


Hi James,Could you please tell us is Mark Webber's position in the RedBull team is much more difficult this year than last year since Seb Vettel is on such a high confidence cloud,driving much quicker and of course the current WDC?It seeems that all the obstacles are stacked up against Mark especially the "jewel" of Redbull is given a load of support and backing which in reality is fully understandable!Mark must be a very tough minded indidivual to keep turning up race after race knowing unoffically the boy is number 1. What are your thoughts to my questions?


Nothing changed in that respect really, except that Vettel got the result - the title -last year. Big difference is that Mark can't squeeze the last fraction out of the Pirelli tyre in quali like Sebastian can at the moment. But maybe today if he holds him off in the race, he'll get a confidence boost

matthew cheshire

If I remember correctly, Webber was better than Vettel at coping with the reduced downforce on overrun last year, before the engine mapping trick was perfected. That may be a usefull skill again soon. If Webber can win from pole, and repeat his dominance at Monaco, then he can challenge Vettel.

Its going to be interesting if Vettel is in the traffic starting from the dirty side. Can he win from inside the pack? We know Webber can overtake.


Gee, it's really great that Gascoyne managed to gain that additional second per lap for Lotus that he was bragging about!

Otherwise they might have missed the 107%.

Good job, Mike!

You cannot believe anything anybody says about gaining time until the rubber meets the road.


Great quali from Webber and even more so from Alonso. With the new hard tyres I'm sure the race strategies will be intriguing.

Webber kers worked, Vettel's didn't, but during post race both didn't look too happy, lol. Love the body language from drivers.The way Alonso hugged Webber felt like he was a rookie who made it to the second row.

Await raceday as usual.


I like the idea that all the teams that make it to qualiy 3 are allocated an additional set of tyres in the last 5 minutes of qualiy 3.

If this were to be the case we'd all see true, exciting as it used to be, real qualifying.

James [lease put this to those at FOTA you speak with as I can't see any downside to it?


Would give them an advantage in the race too, an extra set of used softs. Would only work if you took one set off them after quali. Agree that quali lacks excitement now


Hello James,

There have been a lot of comments on Red Bull so I'll flag up a couple of things that I noticed.

Mercedes - they were matching McLaren in qualifying in Turkey but not in the race - in Spain as you say they were nowhere near the McLaren pace on hard tyres.

- Do you think this spells disaster for their race - I think Ross Brawn said their race pace is better now.. It looked like Nico Rosberg was making great strides towards the front of the pack (something I'd like to see) but could this be reversed this weekend?

Secondly- the mid field teams:

- Great for Maldonado to get into Q3 at last - as you mentioned Force India 'sacrificed' a Q3 run for optimum race strategy but kudos to him for securing their first Q3 of the year.

- My question is what will sponsors think of teams deliberately avoiding more running to gain an advantage in the race? Clearly Force India and Torro Rosso aren't likely to go bust soon, but what of Williams and Sauber?

I know Q3 is only ten minutes but isn't it worth a lot in terms of being seen running next to the big boys?

- I thought Maldonado looked quicker all weekend than the Force Indias and potentially the Saubers - do you think the Williams update has brought them back to the mid-field pack (discounting Barrichello's gearbox problem)

It's interesting that Alonso has qualified P5 for the first 4 races this year - and now when he qualifies one better in P4 it's described as a wonder lap - Speaks volumes about the expectations of Scuderia if by 'wonder' they mean getting on the tail of the second-best team..

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