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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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449 comments

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1

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

2

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.

3

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.

4
Tornillo Amarillo

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.

5

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

6

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.

7

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.

8

+1

9

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.

10

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.

11

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.

12

"I do not think it is really correct"

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

13

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

14

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

15

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.

16

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

17

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!

18

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

20

The crowd was booing in the grandstands!

21

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

22

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

23

Possibly those booing have no understanding of F1.

24

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.

25

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.

26

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!

27

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.

28

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

29

Which F1 team did you own?

30

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?

31

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.

32

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.

33

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.

34

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?

35

Time for lottery drawn starting grid! 🙂

Marrusia on pole!!!

36
Bring Back Murray

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.

37

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 😉

38

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.

39

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..

40

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.

41

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

42

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!

43

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!

44

Correct

45

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

46

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?

47

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.

48

"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?

49
Spinodontosaurus

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.

50

The Teams worked them out and the status quo was resumed

51

"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.

52

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.

53

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.

54

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

55

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.

56

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.

57

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!

58

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.

59

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.

60

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

61

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.

62

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.

63

"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?

64

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.

65

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.

66

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.

67

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.

68

And we got through everyone's holiday photos!

69

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.

70

...... 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'.

71

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

72

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.

73

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.

74

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..

75

Yes it is their fault.

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

76

Pirelli make the tyres.

77
Pete_from_Nepal

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.

78

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.

79

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!

80

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.

81

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.

82

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.

83

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!

84

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.

85

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

86

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.

87

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.

88

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 😉

89

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.

90

Lewis on pole (although Rosberg was fastest).

Whoever expected Kimi to be in the running? That was brilliant sandbagging from Lotus across the weeekend.

91

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.

92

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

93
Bring Back Murray

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

94
Scuderia McLaren

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

95

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

96

Speed trap maybe? Only thing I can think of.

97

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

98

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.

99

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.

100

sandbagging or inconsistent? 🙂

101

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.

102

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

103

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

104

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?

105
Scuderia McLaren

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.

106

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....

107

+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... 🙂

108

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.

109

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.

111

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

112

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.

113

When was Rosberg fastest??

114

Last year 2012 :o)

115

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'

116

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!

117

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.

118

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.

119

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.

120

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

121

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

122

'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.

123

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

124

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.

125

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.

126

Rosberg fastest? How do you work that one out?

127

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...

128

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.

129

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

130

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!

131

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.

132

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.

133

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

134

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

135
Bring Back Murray

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

136

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.

137

You clearly nailed that one 🙂

138

RIGHT ON ALL ACCOUNTS!!!!!!!

139

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.

140

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.

141

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.

142

"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://jaonf1.wpengine.com/2013/04/felipe-massa-sets-the-pace-in-shanghai/

143

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.

144

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.

145

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 🙂

146

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

147

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!

148

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

149

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

150

Agreed

I'd love it if this was the race podium...kimi and Hamilton swapped of course 😉

151

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! 🙂

152

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

Well done Jules and Max!

153

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.

154

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

155

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

156

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...

157

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.

158

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.

159

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...

160

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

161

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?

162

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

163

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.

164

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!

165

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...

166

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

167

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

168

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.

169

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.

170

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.

171

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

172

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.

173

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...

174

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...

175

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

176
Alexander Supertramp

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!

177

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.

178

don't be so sure about Perez.

179

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.

180

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.

181

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.

182

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

183

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.

184

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

185

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.

186

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.

187

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.

188

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.

189
Bring Back Murray

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.

190

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.

191

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

192

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...

193

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

194

I think they chose to spite their face.

195

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

196

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.

197

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

198

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

199

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

200
VP of Common Sense

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

201

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

203

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.

204

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

205

+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.

206

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.

207

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.

208
Scuderia McLaren

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.

209

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

210

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

211

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...

212

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.

213

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

214

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!!!!!!!!

215

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..

216

Doubtful, he's not so limited by ability.

217

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.

218

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

219

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.

220

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.

221

Mark under fuelled? Didn't see that coming...

222

They wanted to keep him away from troubles.

223

Dr Marko at the pump? 😉

224

Never let Marko near the refuelling rig 😉

225

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.....

226
Bring Back Murray

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

227

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

228

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

229

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

230

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

232

Here's hoping

233

Could be, but there are so many variables and different strategic approaches.

Nobody has mentioned 'the weather'.

234

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

235

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

236

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.

237

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

238
Tornillo Amarillo

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?

239

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

240

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.

241

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.

242

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

243

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

244
Bring Back Murray

Re line 3, I'm not sure but Brawn they might have trouble with 🙂

245

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.

246

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.

247

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

248

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.

249

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.

250

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.

251

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

252

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.

253

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.

254

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.

255

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

256

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. 🙁

257
Craig in Manila

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.

258

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.

259
Bring Back Murray

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!

260

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??

261

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

262

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.

263

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).

264
Alexander Supertramp

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.

265

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.

266

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

267

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.

268

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.

269

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.

270

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.

271

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.

272
Alexander Supertramp

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.

273

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

274
Bring Back Murray

I'll sign that petition. Today was a joke

275

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!

276

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."

277

Really? What were they?

278

Hmm what did Rocky say? Miss that.

279

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

280

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.

281

"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?

282

In three years, Rosberg dismantled Schumacher's legacy.

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

283

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

284

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

285

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.

286

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.

287

6 more world titles to go.

Long way to dismantle anything....

288

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?

289

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

290

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.

291
alastair emmerson

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.

292

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.

293
Val from montreal

When Hollywood haves 7 titles then you can talk ....

294

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

295

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...

296
Bring Back Murray

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.

297

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.

298

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

299

😀

300

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.

301

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.

302

Vettel, I think.

303

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.

304

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?

305

Yes, I'm checking that

306

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

307

Fresh set of options at the end, that is. 😉

308

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.

309

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

310

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

311

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.

312

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

313

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

🙂

314

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! 😛

315

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.

316

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.

317

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!

318

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

319

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.

320

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?

321

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.

322
Alexander Supertramp

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).

323

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.

324
Tornillo Amarillo

The philosopher said:

"Pirellitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate" (Caesar Saladis) -

(Pirellis should not be multiplied unnecessarily).

325

Ha ha ha!!!