2014 German GP Qualifying Report

After Lewis Hamilton’s heroics at his home grand prix two weeks ago, the shoe is on the other foot this weekend as AMG Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg will be hoping for the same result as his and the team’s home race at Hockenheim.

The build up to the weekend has been dominated so far with talk surrounding the sudden banning of the FRIC (Front and rear interconnected suspension) systems, which all 11 teams are running this year. It seems the FIA has decided they have become far too complex and too much of an moveable aerodynamic device, leading to their ban starting this weekend.

There was much anticipation therefore in the paddock to see what kind of effect this ban had on the order, although the session would have to go some to be more entertaining than the mixed conditions in Britain two weeks ago provided. Q1 hadn’t even began before Caterham were struggling as a hydraulic problem with Marcus Ericsson’s car left him unlikely to compete in the session at all, something which was later confirmed halfway through the session.

At the front however, it was the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton that set the first truly competitive lap time with a 1.18.693, a cool 0.7 seconds quicker than the rest halfway through Q1. On the other hand, a small shockwave was sent through the paddock a minute later as Finland’s Valtteri Bottas confidently put his Williams-Mercedes top of the times by a cool 0.4 of a second over the rest. For Rosberg, it appeared his home race was proving a burden rather than an advantage, as he made two separate mistakes on successive qualifying laps.

The drama of Q1 was soon provided as Hamilton suffered a front right brake disc failure, which pitched him into the banked stadium section Turn 13 tyre wall. The fast impact left Hamilton sounding slightly winded in the aftermath, and sent the red flags flying with 7 minutes left.

After the small delay a frantic final 7 minutes was set up as everyone ventured back out on track with the one lap super soft tyres. The action proved fast and frantic, with the unfortunate casualties of Q1 being firstly Adrian Sutil who is resigned to 17th in his Sauber-Ferrari for his home grand prix.

Alongside him in 18th is Jules Bianchi in his Marussia-Ferrari, with row 10 containing usual suspects Pastor Maldonado in his troublesome Lotus-Renault and the Caterham-Renault of Kamui Kobayashi. Sitting 21st and 22nd for tomorrow will be Max Chilton in his Marussia and the unfortunate Marcus Ericsson in the second Caterham.

After a quiet opening few minutes of Q2 as the teams waited to save their tyres, Q2 sparked into life with Bottas again setting the early pace with a blistering 1.17.353. HIs time last roughly 30 seconds at the top however, as a far more dialled in Rosberg stole top spot with a 1.17.109. After this lap time the track went relatively quiet before the final runs began with a few minutes remaining.

With a seemingly small amount of improvement in the track, the final two minutes proved a constant flurry of changing times and places, of which the final order was only settled well after the session was over. When the dust settled, it showed that from those eliminated it was Jenson Button who fell in 11th for McLaren-Mercedes, with fellow champion Kimi Raikkonen alongside him in 12th.

Behind them it was Jean Eric Vergne in his Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault in 13th, from Esteban Gutierrez in the leading Sauber in 14th. The final two eliminated were Romain Grosjean for Lotus-Renault in 15th and Hamilton who couldn’t take part in Q2 because of his accident.

The stage was not set for the final 12 minute Q3 showdown for pole, with first runs meaning the action started from the moment the pit lane light turned green. Once these times filtered through it was Rosberg who was unsurprisingly on top with a 1.15.540, with the two Williams-Mercedes cars close behind. From here the session calmed down before the final runs for pole began with a few minutes left on the clock. These runs proved a damp squib however, as the top 3 remained the same with Rosberg claiming a popular home pole, from the impressive Williams twins of Bottas and Felipe Massa in second and third.

4th was a brilliant result for McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen, with popular Aussie Daniel Ricciardo piloting his Red Bull-Renault to 5th. Reigning World Champion Sebastien Vettel will again be disappointed to be behind his team mate in 6th, with Fernando Alonso for Ferrari and Daniil Kvyat for Scuderia Toro Rosso behind Vettel in 7th and 8th. Rounding out the top 10 were the two Sahara Force-India-Mercedes team mates, with Nico Hulkenberg winning their battle in 9th from Sergio Perez in 10th.

This German GP qualifying session has provided plenty of story lines for tomorrow, with Hamilton’s recovery drive already being eagerly anticipated. Up front, it appears Rosberg will at the very least have to fend off what should be a stern challenge from the Williams of a determined Valtteri Bottas. It should be a thrilling race indeed.


2014 Canadian GP Qualifying Report

After the drama’s and tension of the Monaco GP weekend two weeks ago, the F1 circus was hoping for a much calmer weekend as they arrived at the ever popular Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This race weekend is always popular with teams, drivers and fans alike and an interesting weekend was predicted. This circuit always provides competitive racing thanks to it’s unique nature with braking being crucial around this high speed stop lap.

The Q1 drama began before the session had even got underway as Sauber sophomore driver Esteban Gutierrez was forced to sit and watch Qualifying as the his car needed a new chassis after a crash in Free Practice 3.  This meant only 5 drivers would be eliminated this time around, somewhat easing the pressure . As the cars trickled out slowly it was Williams driver Valteri Bottas who set the first competitive time with a 1.18.270 after 4 minutes.  


Unsurprisingly this time didn’t last long at the top as AMG Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg subsequently smashed that time with his own 1.16.690 with 12 minutes left in the session. Canada specialist Lewis Hamilton wasn’t going to let Rosberg get too comfortable atop the times however as he soon chimed in with a 1.16.438. Then with 8 minutes to go he improved to a 1.15.750, a nice statement of intent on his part for qualifying. After this the session calmed down slightly before the intensity increased in the final minutes.

First Lotus-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado pulled off track at Turn 2 with a lack of power, in the process guaranteeing his elimination in Q1. Things did improve his slightly however, as Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson stuffed the rear end of his car into the outside wall exiting Turn 9 with 16 seconds left. The ensuring red flag would end the session and cement everyone in their Q1 positions.

Sharing the back row are the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez and the Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson. Caterham team leader Kamui Kobayashi lines up 20th, with Marussia driver Jules Bianchi 19th. Max Chilton out-qualified team mate Bianchi for the first time in 2014 in 18th alongside the unlucky Lotus-Renault driver Pastor Maldonado in 17th. Since qualifying things have got worse for Caterham however as Kobayashi has been forced to take a gearbox change, demoting him to 21st behind team mate Ericsson.

Q2 began with star Sahara-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg being the first to set a competitive time with a 1.16.650 in the first few minutes. Both the Williams drivers looked hugely competitive this weekend and they soon flexed their muscles in Q2, with Felipe Massa quickly setting the pace with a 1.15.773 with 11 minutes to go in Q2. The major surprise of Q2 was the fact the two AMG Mercedes drivers were unable to beat Massa’s time, although this can be explained by the fact they didn’t run the softer tyres which Massa did.

The final minutes were frantic as always but the biggest surprise again was that the AMG Mercedes drivers went out for a final run when they appeared safe for Q3. Nevertheless, their softer tyre runs rewarded them with Rosberg first with a 1.15.2 before Hamilton eclipsed him with a 1.15.0 to top the Q2 session. From Q1 and Q2 the advantage AMG Mercedes enjoyed a 0.7s gap to the rest, ensuring Q3 would be another intense battle between the two.

Those who sadly wouldn’t be making Q3 were a disappointed Sahara-Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg in 11th, alongside McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen in 12th. Sahara-Force India’s disappointed day was completed a Hulkenberg’s team mate Sergio Perez only managed 13th, sharing row 7 with Lotus-Renault driver Romain Grosjean in 14th. The 8th row would be shared with Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat in 15th alongside Sauber driver Adrian Sutil in 16th.

The final Q3 session began slowly with Valterri Bottas the first to venture out after 2 minutes. His first lap time was a 1.15.550 with 7.30 left on the clock. His reign at the top was short however as Nico Rosberg soon eclipsed him with a 1.14.946 lap, which even team mate Hamilton couldn’t match. As the cars settled in the garage’s ready for their final run, Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen gambled on setting a quick lap whilst the track was quiet. This gamble didn’t work however as he only managed 8th on his one flying lap.

The final run’s were an anti-climax as a bad lap from Hamilton handed Rosberg pole on a plate, with Rosberg improving by a tenth just to make sure of pole. Reigning world champion Sebastien Vettel produced the lap of the session to steal 3rd from the Williams drivers in an inferior Red Bull car. William sophomore Bottas usurped experienced team mate Massa for 4th and 5th, with Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo disappointed with 6th. Fernando Alonso qualified 7th from an impressive Jean Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso in 8th. The 5th and final row of the top 10 would be shared by Jenson Button in the McLaren and Raikkonen completing the top 10 for Ferrari.

Qualifying set up the race later on today perfectly in what should be an impressive race long fight between the two AMG Mercedes drivers. Behind them the battle for the final podium spot should be just as interesting between the Red Bull and Williams cars. Also watch out for the two Sahara-Force India cars, as they are always more competitive in race trim with their car notoriously soft on it’s tyres. Watch out for their progress during the race.