10 Things We Learned From Austrian Qualy
Saturday 21-June-2014 15:48
Mercedes engines on the front row was expected in Austria. But not in the back of two Williams cars...
Current Qualifying scores:
Hamilton 4 - 4 Rosberg
Ricciardo 6 - 2 Vettel
Button 4 - 4 Magnussen
Alonso 5 - 3 Raikkonen
Hulkenberg 6 - 2 Perez
Massa 4 - 4 Bottas
Vergne 5 - 3 Kvyat It was Felipe Massa's first pole position in six years. The last time was 2008 in Brazil. And with the World Cup playing large in the background of the Austrian GP weekend, Felipe and his son are keen for the home side to do well. Felipe Junior gave Dad a little plastic figure of Brazilian football hero Neymar for good luck: "Just before I got into the car, my son gave me a little Neymar, you know, the little figure, so it was a nice feeling. To win the World Cup at home will be like a dream come true."
But...only seven of the last 25 grands prix at the Red Bull Ring have been won from pole position. With just nine corners it is the shortest lap in F1, but will place a high demand on fuel in the race. And then there's the altitude...
The all-Williams front row had statisticians scurrying into the archives to find out the last time we had one. Was it 2003 - with Juan Montoya and Ralf Schumacher? Or was it back in the 1990s with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve? Their last pole position was Pastor Maldonado who was in P1 for the 2012 Spanish GP. Their last front row was Germany 2003.
For much of Qualifying it looked like Toro Rosso were going to upset the formbook and beat the Red Bull cars. In Q1 Daniil Kvyat finished P2. He ended up P7, eight places in front of team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne. It was only in Q3 that Dan Ricciardo finally managed to jump in front.
Sebastian Vettel has been told by his Red Buill team to stop blaming the car. After the first run of Q2 the team were P9 (Ricciardo) and P12 (Vettel) and in danger of massively under-performing at the team's home race and maybe not making it into Q3. Luckily Dan made it though and with Hamilton's failure to set a time ended in a very respectable P5 - that's eight places in front of the four-times World Champion.
There is speculation that Lewis Hamilton is keeping his real pace under wraps through Qualifying because Rosberg just sees where his rival can go quicker and copies him. This is why, on his first hot lap in Q3, Lewis misjudged the final corner, because up until then he'd never taken it so fast. Lewis Hamilton on his error-strewn Q3: "It was just two not very good laps. Or one-and-a-quarter-laps... I didn't finish the second one. The feeling was there in the car, it has been good all weekend. To be honest my first lap was looking good and went wide in the second to last corner - I think that lap would have done it. I've swallowed that (bitter pill) many times, it's easier(to take) the more and more you do it. We're going to be strong tomorrow, it's going to be very, very hard from where we are, but of course I'll do everything I can to try and get some good points for the team. It's damage limitation I guess."
It could be a busy time for the race stewards on Sunday. Following a strict directive from Race Director Charlie Whiting, they will be enforcing the track limits regulations for Turn 8 where drivers were running with all four wheels off track. In Q1 they were automatically deleting the times for drivers as they went outside the track limits, with Grosjean, Alonso, Guttierez, Ericsson, Kvyat, Kobayashi and Bottas all losing times.
Jenson Button wasn't too downcast in P12, even though he was six places behind his rookie team-mate. "I'll be starting P11 (after Perez's grid penalty), on new tyres from the clean side of the grid so hopefully I can make up places at the start. In the last few races I've started on used tyres from P8 and gone backwards."
Sutil 4 - 4 Gutierrez
Grosjean 7 - 1 Maldonado
Kobyashi 7 - 1 Ericsson
Bianchi 5 - 3 Chilton