10 Things We Learned From Qualy
Saturday 26-July-2014 15:09
Lewis's second successive car failure in Q1 has got a lot of hacks diving for the old Skoda jokes. How do you double the value of a Mercedes W05? Fill it with petrol - or in this case, the engine compartment.
The story of the session was Lewis Hamilton's second successive car failure in Q1, a massive fire that totally wrecked his W05 after just two sectors completed. It puts Mercedes on a par with Lotus and Caterham for multiple Q1 mechanical problems. Lewis described his early exit: "This is beyond bad luck." The team put the problem down to a fuel leak.
This is a situation where Mercedes need a large respected figure like Ross Brawn to put their arm around Lewis to reassure him that it isn't a conspiracy to favour one driver. They don't have that and anyway current commercial boss Toto Wolff has his arm in a brace after breaking his wrist, shoulder and collar bone in a Mercedes mountain biking event last week. (Andrew Davies wants to know if Bremobo supplied the bikes' brake compounds...)
While Mercedes finger troubles were putting an end to Hamilton's race ambitions, strategic mistakes were at fault for leaving Kimi Raikkonen high and dry in P17. The Finn progressed no further than Q1 because he was saving Soft tyres for the race. In the closing stages of the session it was P.14 Button, P.15 Raikkonen, P.16.Hulkenberg. When Nico Hulkenberg went quicker on Softs that left Raikkonen in P16, and then Marussia's Jules Bianchi slotted inside Raikkonen's 1:26.792 with a 1:26.728. Afterwards Kimi made it quite clear whose fault it was: "I questioned a few times saying shouldn't we go out again, but the team said it was okay."
Raikkonen and Alonso both got relegated to the back of the grid at Silverstone, but that time it was down to rain and fast-changing conditions. To have one of your drivers qualify in P5 (Alonso) while one qualifies in P17 at a track where overtaking is tough is an unmitigated disaster and represents new boss Marco Matiacci's first major blunder. It'll be no joy to them that the guy who demoted Kimi is contracted to Ferrari and was driving a Ferrari-engined car.
Daniil Kvyat was about to join his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne (who finished fastest of all in Q1) in Q3 with two Personal Best sector times before throwing it all away with a spin in Turn 12. Nico Hulkenberg was the beneficiary and he scraped a place higher thanks to a McLaren spinner.
Rookie Kevin Magnussen also made a mistake by completely misjudging his braking into Turn 1 which brought out the red flags. He arrived at the corner as only the second car on track in Q3 and joined Nico Rosberg who got there first. While Nico Rosberg ran wide and destroyed his lap, Magnussen locked up for an age, hit the barriers and destroyed his car. Had the cars been able to continue with no red flag, the chances are, with rain still falling, that the very first lap would have been the fastest lap in Q3. And so Magnussen's off effectively rescued Rosberg from starting the race in P8. The Red Flag allowed a delay in which the rain fell away and the track dried. Although Nico played it very safe after that with a timid first lap when the session was restarted, two seconds behind Dan Ricciardo.
Jenson Button had a lot of sympathy for his Mclaren team-mate after he left the track: "It was very scary down there - no grip at all!" he reported on team radio. At the start of the session there was a 30% chance of rain with black clouds rolling around the Hungaroring. Apparently there was a failure of the rain radar supplied to all the teams, so it was unexpected at the start of Q3.
After the first runs in Q3 it was:
1.Vettel, 2.Bottas, 3.Ricciardo, 4.Alonso, 5.Button, 6.Massa, 7.Rosberg
After the seconds runs in Q3 it was:
1.Rosberg, 2.Vettel, 3.Bottas, 4.Ricciardo, 5.Vergne, 6.Hulkenberg, 7.Alonso, 8.Button, 9.Massa
After the final runs in Q3 it was:
1.Rosberg, 2.Vettel, 3.Bottas, 4.Ricciardo, 5.Alonso 6.Massa 7.Button, 8.Vergne, 9.Hulkenberg, 10.Magnussen (no time).
A great meteorological quote from Radio 5 commentator, Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish, talking about the wind which had veered round 180 degrees since practice: "The wind has definitely changed since this morning and it's coming a little more towards us..."