#F1 Qualifying Review: The Dawn of a new Era and Hamilton takes first blood

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

2014 Australian Pole - Lewis Hamilton

221 days since the last non-Red Bull pole and it’s Lewis Hamilton who is quickest.  A scintillating qualifying session goes right down to the wire with the Red Bull new boy, Daniel Ricciardo, putting in an impressive display the split the Silver Arrows.

What started off as a very pleasant day at Albert Park quickly turned to an overcast affair.  For the first time in 2014, we have seen 4 tyre compounds used on the same day.  The Mercedes cars look ominous in the dry, easily the class of the field but seem to lose much of that advantage in the wet.  Toro Rosso will be praying for rain to continue as the car seems a completely different package in the moist conditions.  3 World Champions in 11th,12th and 13th (before penalties) sets the race up very well.

Who would have thought it – a return to making cars much like those from the 80s has made 2014 racing an appetising delight.

What’s past is prologue.”
― William ShakespeareThe Tempest

Q1:

The start of qualifying brings all the waiting to an end, and there is already drama. Both Gutierrez and Bottas will be collecting grid penalties for changing gearboxes. Gutierriez will be particularly miffed since it was a failure of the Mclaren ECU that caused his gearbox to eat itself. And no one knows whom Bernie is dealing with, but the threat of rain hangs heavy in the air waiting to upset Mercedes’ applecart with the spectre of Red Bull resurgent in the wet.

The session kicks off with both Mercedes side by side, Hamilton out first, this year with just 18 minutes to get it done. On the warm up lap Grosjean decides to pass Rosberg, apparently so he can claim at least one overtake for the weekend. Importantly, given the approaching rain, Mercedes are both on the Medium compound, along with Alonso, which will give them an extra set of Softs should the rain hit in Q2. In the meantime, the wind is gusting and will present a major problem, especially into turns 9 and 13, where there were more than a few offs in P3. No surprise, with Hamilton first across the line he takes top spot, quickly knocked off the perch by Massa. As the other runners start coming across quicker, Vettel noticeably last to leave the garage. And in his first run, he manages to tap the wall on the exit of 10, but no serious damage done other than his lap time.

Into the second set of laps and Lewis runs wide turn 9 as the pace begins to hot up. Grosjean dumps his 2nd run into the litter. Things are not going well for Romain, he was heard yelling at his team over the radio during P3. This will not make him a happier person. Alonso has a big lock up and the screaming tyres can plainly be heard on the telly. Vettel improves and moves onto 7th and Sutil’s effort gets him well clear of the drop zone. Meanwhile Button has heating issues and with 7.5 minute to go the rain arrives. Hamilton is back on track for no real reason but cautioned by his team, meanwhile Grosjean is told to speed up by his team to which he replies “I cannot”.  With the rain it’s all about to change and currently Kobayashi is winning the battle of the backmarkers by advancing to Q2 while Maldonado sticks the fork in Lotus by spinning it into the litter. With the rain increasing there will be no improvement and Q3 ends with Ricciardo on top and in order, Chilton, Bianchi, Gutierrez, Ericsson, Grosjean and Maldonado respectively in places 17-22.

Q2:

The start of Q2 and rain is falling steadily. Everyone’s running inters except Toro Rosso, who have opted to start on full wets. The Williams are out first and immediately on his first lap Bottas is off on Turn 9, the Williams looking very twitchy in the wet. This will be the first trip most of the drivers will have had in these conditions and the additional torque will no doubt be adding to the fun factor. After the first round of laps Vettel is slower than both Mercs, slotting into 7th place, while his team mate Ricciardo slots into first place and is looking properly quick in these conditions.  And the first yellow makes its appearance, Bottas spinning to make it interesting.  Track is starting to dry, promising to reward later runners.  Both Merc’s to the top with 6:46 to go, now split by Ricciardo only.007 down on Hamilton. A proper duel then between Rosberg, Hamilton and Ricciardo is now developing. JEV moves up to 4th, he was quick in the wet last year as well. With 4:21 to go everyone is boxing for new inters. Massa moves up to 2nd , the drying track will mean it’s all down to who times their last run best. Alonso to 10th as time runs down. And that’s it, the yellows are out as Raikkonen has driven into the wall. Vettel is caught out and has to slow on his last flyer. He’s done and will not advance. Meanwhile the crowd is roaring as Ricciardo *has* advanced in P2 just .031 off Rosberg. In order, Button, Raikkonen, Vettel, Sutil, Kobayashi and Perez will occupy positions 11-22 and advance no further.

Q3:

Rain is heaving down now, and as the session goes green, it’s Rosberg trailed by Ricciardo. DRS disabled and Rosberg is looking to have the advantage the wetter it gets. They’re all running full wets save Alonso. Conditions are miserable and no one looks entirely comfortable. Still it’s Rosberg P1, Hamilton P2 with Ricciardo P6 after the first runs, with Hulkenberg coming third.

Ricciardo’s on the radio with the team asking about inters as Alonso’s pace indicates it was the wrong choice for the first half of Q3. Times are falling and everyone’s looking for the crossover to inters. As Rosberg pits for fresh tyres, Hamilton leapfrogs him for P1. Meanwhile, looks like Ricciardo is leaning inters as he manages a time just .7 off Hamilton. With just 3 minutes left it’s a frenzy of activity as everone’s into the pits for new tyres. Mercedes stick with the full wets as Ricciardo switches to inters, for better or worse.

He’s stayed out one lap too long and they run a proper race style pit stop to get him changed over and out on time. The wind is howling round the track and the spray is epic. Rosberg is on a hot lap and faster than anyone in the first sector. And he’s off in turn 9!! Massa is giving it everything but the Williams is all over the track. One minute to go Rosberg purple in the first 2 sectors, Magnussen to P3. Ricciardo to P1, immediately has it nicked by Hamilton. Rosberg comes through even quicker, but he won’t get another lap, as that off in turn 9 really cost him. It’s one on one between Hamilton and Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull Racing

Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing

Kvyat is into the wall into turn 9 but he can continue but leaves part of his car behind.  Ricciardo is across the line P1 1:44.548 with only Lewis and Alonso out.  Hamilton hits the line in 1:44.231!! It’s P1 for Lewis and Mercedes claim the first pole of the year, but no lockout as Ricciardo will be lining up P2 and Rosberg and Magnussen P3 and P4.

Alonso , Vergne, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Massa and Bottas finish out P5-10 respectively. Meanwhile Button and Vettel must be already wondering where it all went so wrong.

Tomorrow will answer many questions while asking some more, but the weather should hold the trump card, with rain, wind and cold in store for the drivers.

Qualifying Results

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m44.231s
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m44.548s +0.317s
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m44.595s +0.364s
4 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1m45.745s +1.514s
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m45.819s +1.588s
6 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 1m45.864s +1.633s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m46.030s +1.799s
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 1m47.360s +3.129s
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1m48.079s +3.848s
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1m48.147s +3.916s
11 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m44.437s +2.173s
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m44.494s +2.230s
13 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m44.668s +2.404s
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1m45.655s +3.391s
15 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 1m45.867s +3.603s
16 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m47.293s +5.029s
17 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1m34.293s +4.118s
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1m34.794s +4.619s
19 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m35.117s +4.942s
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1m35.157s +4.982s
21 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m36.993s +6.818s
22 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault No Time

2014 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying

51 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: The Dawn of a new Era and Hamilton takes first blood

  1. So, to tell a long story short:
    1) Vettel, not having the best car around for first time in 4 years, does not deliver.
    2) Ricciardo, the never-ending-smile driver, smiles.
    3) Kimi did not smash Alonso. Yet.
    4) Mercedes confirms it is the best car out there.
    5) Alonso, for fifth season in a row, is fifth on a GP’s qualifying.

    No hyperboles were injured during the production of this comment.

    • Well, Vettel couldn’t deliver as he had engine problems and yellow flags on his final run, because Kimi had stuck his Dyson in the wall. Pretty difficult to deliver under these conditions. Danny boy was sublime, but then he’s always been in the wet. But he is a Saturday champion. We’ll have to wait for the race. Kimi – well the less said the better. Maybe he was hung-over. Merc: sublime in the dry, but a trifle vulnerable in the wet. They seem to be down on mechanical grip. Alonso: meh. Looks more like 2013 ‘nando than 2012.

      • According to the twitter feed in the right column, The Man That Could Not Deliver is under investigation by not lifting during yellow flags.

          • Errrrr, why?
            They were summoned, I guess, because they improved their sector times during yellow flags. Perhaps they were cleared after hearing their explanations, which is OK with me. But that does not invalidate my comment, since they did not lift during yellow flags and therefore that cannot be the excuse for not delivering.

            When it comes to the “engine problems” in The Man Who Could Not Deliver, I guess this adds a sixth conclusion to my first comment:

            6) For once in six years, the car with engine problems in the Red Bull garage is not the one driven by an Australian.

          • You are seriously bumhurt my friend. I suggest KY Jelly.
            If you had bothered to think about it, you would know that since the very first day at Jerez Vettel had the bigger problems. He lost running completely at Jerez day #1 and Bahrain #7. He also had the majority of failures in 2009 and 2010. Mark suffered more in 2011-2013 in the end they were pretty much exactly 50:50 over the whole period with Vettel having more technical DNF’s than Webber. So what is the point you’re trying to make?

          • My dear Fat Hippo, I don’t let statistics get in the middle of a good rant in the same way that you get ad hominen as soon as you ran out of interesting things to say. You lack style, and that’s the end of it for me.

          • Erm, I refer you back to your first post, in which you postulated that a driver didn’t deliver, deliberately ignoring the fact that he couldn’t do so, even if he wanted to because of technical problems. Now what did you say about style and having arguments again? I rest my case.

          • I with you on the defence of Vettel today Hippo, but Christian Horner said these 2 cars had never berm run, they are chassis numbers 2 and 4, 3 was the test chassis and its back at the factory being upgraded to a race chassis. But it was a shame SV was unable to really push his car as hard as he would have liked. You could hear it when he hit the throttle, he seemed to have some amount of lag in the PU, perhaps the H wasn’t performing correctly?

        • The yellow flag sectors are only 200m long, its not the whole timing sector(which is approx 1 third of the circuit) but just that 200m between flag points that they need to lift off a bit in. That is new for this year, David Drift explained it on the Sky commentary

          • oh, what a lovely last post of you Regis, instant comment of the year imo. saying what everybody thinks and bringing mr. vettel / rb fanboy down to earth.

        • Regis, you will learn that the Hippo will have a “hissy fit” if you say anything vaguely detrimental about his favourite driver. Not only is Vettel the “The Man Who Could Not Deliver”, he is also the “Man who can do no wrong” 😀

      • Interesting that Vettel’s trouble was put down to “software problems” according to Renault.
        Red Bull also claim a “faulty sensor”.

        • I’m currently writing a lengthy piece explaining that phenomenon. Software problems will stick around with RB for a while, even if they seemed to have fixed it.
          Short version: Even if you have a cut and put a band-aid on it, it still can restart bleeding. It was unrealistic that RB have produced a final fix to the problems, they merely provided a provisional hotfix.
          Faulty sensor in ‘cooperation’ with a hastily produced software not being able to react adequately is probably the most likely cause.

          • Look forward to it.

            And while it’s refreshing not to see Vettel out in front, I am not one of those cheering his problems. I want his car at least to work, as I’d like to see how he performs at this stage of his career when on the back foot.

  2. “There comes the rain, there begins confusion.”
    (Henry VI)

    I like it when the weather shakes things up a bit.

    • Thx. Rather more challenging than testing. And yes, very exciting. Amazed at their ability to deliver under so much pressure…

  3. That was the best qually session I have seen for a very long time. Edge of seat stuff for so many different reasons. I just think it’s great that the cars se a bit of a handful and driver skill is again at the forefront our beloved sport, but for how long? Will the teams claw back all the downforce that has been robbed from them by these new regs? I hope not! I feel the drivers had been spoiled with EBD for the last few seasons, hence why we didn’t tend to see many off’s due them having mountains of downforce and having to drive stupidly slow on the Pirreli bubble gum, I believe this also contributed the mega reliability we saw too, as the cars were simply not being push as hard as they were capable of. I am so excited for 2moro’s race.

  4. I didn’t see the qualifying, but… Seems like a great performance from kvyat and k-mag, and a little disappointing from bo77as.

    • The Williams looked a real handful in the wet, Massa and Bottas had some ‘moments’ between them on the less than optimum track surface. They were looking pretty ok when it was dry.

      K-mag was impressive, JB was unlucky as he slowed too much past Kimi inspecting the wall was up to F1 standards, this also caught out Vettle unfortunately. It will make the race interesting with them out of position.

      • Even in the dry the Williams were sliding around more than the others. Where we were sitting on Turn 3 both of the Williams but especially Bottas were very twitchy even during practice when they were getting onto the power going into Turn 4…

        I agree that K-Mag and Ric were impressive – there will be lots of happy locals today:) This is the first time I’ve seen what can happen when a driver from a mid-field team (or a rookie) gets into a fast car. Even Kvyat did really well (as did Kobyashi getting his Caterham into Q2). Can’t wait for the race!!!!

        • Interesting observations about the Williams cars, and the vibes from the fellow spectators regarding Ricciardo. (I’ve been trackside when a local has done well in an F1 race… it’s very memorable.)

          I always appreciate trackside live observations as one can see more than what can be transmitted on the TV broadcasts.

          Thanks again!

          • I was fascinated to observe how different it was to watching it on TV – because you’re spending a lot of time sitting in the one place you can observe the little difference between the cars in a completely different way. I guess we sometimes miss the big picture (though we do have a screen in front of us) but it was so cool to see the subtle things too that I would never have noticed otherwise…

  5. Nice write up, but there’s no way of saying this without sounding like a grumpy old git, so I’ll just take that mantle – describing past events in the present tense is really irritating and hard to read. “Grosjean decides to pass Rosberg” and “Vettel is faster than both Mercs” instead of “Grosjean decided to pass Rosberg” and “Vettel was faster than both Mercs”. It’s especially painful if you start off in past tense (“What started off as a pleasant day at Albert Park”) then just switch to present tense later the same paragraph.

    Ok, free content on the Internet and all that, but at times I really think TJ13 needs to pay some more attention to the quality of the copy because it just hurts your credibility. Sorry for being a moaner, it is a well written piece in terms of the content, this is just a comment on the grammar.

    • You might dislike the use of narrative present, but it’s perfectly acceptable grammatically.
      It’s purely a matter of taste and clearly ours differ.
      🙂

  6. Thanks Sharl, this was my first attempt at Quali, and I was hamstrung as I took notes in real time and then went back and attempted to write them up. Changing them to past tense sounded artificial so I went with present, basically this was expanded stream of consciousness of my viewing.

    Also, written on deadline, and (not making excuses) quali ended local time 3 am for me, so not always making good choices when I’m that tired, LOL.

    • What time zone are you in Mattpt55, my guess is the east coast of USA, am I correct?

      Great piece by the way mate. The message and content are clear so who cares about some dodgy grammar, certainly not me!

      • Bang on there CV, good old NYC for me. Glad you liked it. The hard part is I would have liked to have imposed a little more narrative on top. Next time!

        • Onwards and upwards my friend, the quality of all the articles are on the up. I’m currently attempting to pen an historic-present day one of my own (i won’t disclose suject matter but at a guess you may know about it) but daily life keeps throwing up choas massively in the way. Hoping for a quiet week to get it done.

          • Can’t wait to read it, but a quiet week? I’m lucky to get the occasional hour. Just write whenever you can, it’ll be done before you know it.

            Pretty sure the chaos is obligatory, LOL.

          • I’m looking forward to it too:) No quiet weeks here either – I have to get up at 5 am to get a couple of quiet hours before the kids get up:)

          • There is A LOT of reaserch to do, especially early years, there can be a real shortage of technical info on pre-war machinery. I’m compiling notes as and when I can, then plan to build the piece, I expect it to be in 3-5 separate installments. It’s way too much to condense into a single read.

          • Clear View- have you seen the brilliant website that covers I think 1924-1939 and has information about every race, even the non-championship ones? It has details about every car and driver…there wasn’t anything I couldn’t find on it for my 1938 article..

    • I really enjoyed your write-up too Matt. Writing at 3am – lol – I’d be surprised if anything I wrote made sense at all:) I had enough difficulty with my own non-factual piece about Friday Practice which was written before midnight! It was my first time to write to a deadline and it was SO much harder…

      • Ha Ha yes, I thought testing would have prepared me but oh no…. not even close. This was a whole other kind of thing entirely.

        Thanks for the kind words, I really enjoyed reading your piece as well. I’m still dreaming of the day i might make it to a GP in person. And 5, ouch, takes me back to my cycling days, though I’m more inclined to stay up late, personally, since my wife and daughter like to prowl about in the morning.

        Also thanks for sharing your observations about the Williams. I know it was very gusty, do you think they might be especially susceptible to yaw? It’s the only reason, aside from how bumpy the surface looked on telly (cars seemed to be bouncing more than last year) that might have explained their twitchiness compared to Bahrain.

        • The rest of my family are all night owls so it’s the only time I can get my husband’s computer and peace and quiet:) I often have to send my 17 year old off to bed when I get up at 5 am though – lol:)

          I found it very hard to be as creative with a deadline – my brain just shut down knowing I had to write something…at least all the males helped me brainstorm about their favourite bits:)

          The Williams was definitely more twitchy but I”m not sure why – both drivers were having problems…it wasn’t as windy on Friday and it was still very noticeable.

          I’m so looking forward to the race – we’re about to leave now and do the main straight walk 🙂

          • I was obviously wat hung on tv but we get some track surface level shots, you could really notice how much work the Williams front suspension was doing compared to the rest of the field, they seam to be running quite soft, so I would guess that if you allow more body role, a gust of wind will effect it more side on, plus more bounce on the bumps perhaps upsetting the aero a bit too.

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