10 Things We Learned From Qualy
Saturday 23rd August 2014
10 Things We Learned From Qualy
Apart from, don't go to the Ardennes in August for a sun tan.
Rain at Spa delivered some very hair-raising moments through Eau Rouge, which regained respect from all the drivers. Many, including Vettel, Raikkonen, Maldonado and Hamilton, had to put in major corrections at speed. Nobody put their cars into the barriers, but F1's most notorious corner wasn't being taken flat.
The biggest shock of Q1 was Nico Hulkenberg exiting in P18. Team-mate Perez was in the drop-zone until the very last seconds and escaped into P11, but Nico went straight on at the final turn and blew his lap. Hulkenberg admitted afterwards that his brakes were just getting colder and colder. (In Q2 Jenson called the team and asked if he could change gloves because his hands were cold and numb - and wet).
Hulkenberg's failure was a big relief to McLaren's Kevin Magnussen, who was sitting in a perilous P16 waiting for Hulkenberg to cross the line. Magnussen had flat-spotted both his front tyres and slipped down the order. Given that reprieve he went on to finish Qualifying in P7.
On his first fast lap Lewis Hamilton put his car into P1 with a lap which included an excusion into the run-off tarmac of the final chicane, plus a laborious trip back onto the circuit close to where he came off. And he was still P1! His time of 2:09 would have still been good enough to claim P6 at the end of the session, but he put several more laps in at 2:07.
Jules Bianchi made it through to Q2 again, beating a McLaren, a Lotus, a (stopped) Sauber and a Force India. Even Max Chilton got in on the action with a jump to P16 in the closing minutes of the session, but was eventually overtaken. Caterham debutant Andre Lotterer was a whole five seconds slower that Marcus Ericsson and then put in a lap that was a second faster.
Daniil Kvyat was edged out of Q3 action by a last-lap improvement from Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel in Q2. The Russian showed his frustration by taking his hand off the wheel and making a gesture, and then promptly spun the car. Luckily for him he hot nothing. Next year he'll have to show the maturity of leading the team. But he still beat JEV.
Daniel Ricciardo had the greatest escape of all on his final lap of Q3, losing control of his Red Bull in the run through the fast downhill Blanchimont corner. The onboard is very fightening. Team-mate Sebastian vettel used the opportunity to peg the qualifying back to Dan 7 - Seb 5.
In Q3 Lewis Hamilton suffered from glazed brakes, going straight on at Les Combes and then running wide a couple of times at La Source, which cost him the time he needed to grab pole position. Nico Rosberg made it two Mercedes poles in two years with far more consistent lappery. Mercedes' technical chief Paddy Lowe couldn't quite believe the margin of the team's dominance, finishing two seconds ahead of Vettel's Red Bull in P3. "In the wet, where many things can happen, that is remarkable," he said.
It was a disappointing session for the Williams team who hoped for more than a P6 and P9, especially when Valtteri Bottas is such a great driver in mixed conditions. Trackside engineering director Rob Smedley is still confident that the team's ability to get heat into the tyre and 'switch it on' will work well for them in the cold and dry tomorrow.
It's forecast dry for the race tomorrow and Vettel has given himself some chance of avoiding a little piece of history. If he doesn't step onto the Spa podium it will be the longest podiumless streak of his Red Bull career. Both Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso have never won at Spa.
Rosberg Clinches Pole At Spa
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