#F1 Qualifying Review: An unexpected but very welcome result…

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

Felipe Massa - 2014 AustrianGP Pole

With an hour to go under partly cloudy skies the weather in Spielberg was 17◦ C with a wind blowing 14kph. Sky Sports was doing in depth track analysis with Button whilst American viewers were being treated to a fishing show on a golf course. With Bottas having topped P3 and Massa not far behind, the stage was set for Williams to break through and put paid to the demons that have hounded them this season. A short lap and traffic guaranteed an interesting session was about to get underway on the deceptively challenging and beautifully set Red Bull Ring.

Sadly there appeared to be no home field advantage for Vettel as he failed to make Q3 while Kvyat continued his run of good Quali by making the cut.

But no one could predict that Mercedes would follow misfortune with mistakes in Q3  as Hamilton appeared to suffer mechanical problems once again just as he was set to take the fight to his teammate. Rosberg’s choice to follow Lewis in Q3 cost him massively as the yellows caused by his teammate (oh bitter irony) cost him his last chance to improve. As the world watched Hamilton swap ends in replay with the checkers about to fly Massa managed to nip pole from his teammate and WILLIAMS managed its first lockout since Germany 2003. With Hamilton P9, Vettel P12, Williams leading the way and soaring temperatures tomorrow, the stage is set for the most dramatic race of the season

Q1

New rules for Turn 8 and a redefined pit entry line set the tone for the session as any runner with all 4 wheels beyond the white line would have their time disallowed. With the track at only 32◦C it would just be an additional challenge for the teams to meet.

The session developed slowly as the backmarkers began making their way out of the garage at the 17:30 mark. With the shorter lap changing everyone’s timing, the usual flow of the session had some added drama with longer waits in the garage before venturing out. As Mercedes began pulling out with 15 minutes to go the first lap times from the midfield began rolling in with Vergne being the first to top the charts in a 1:11.886. He was followed by Perez, Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Grosjean. At 13 minutes Kvyat did his teammate to take P1, but with the Mercedes on the gas it wasn’t going to be long for this world.

As Hamilton came around to set his first time, Raikkonen went through in 4th and Alonso took P1. As the Mercedes charged round the circuit the backmarkers were already changing onto the Super Softs. Hamilton launched himself into first with Rosberg 0.4 behind.  Button sat in P16 after having had his P3 cut short due to overheating brakes. Mercedes came round again and Hamilton improved while Rosberg closed the gap to 0.181 with 8 minutes to go.

Chilton, carrying a penalty from Canada, started the last round of laps by improving to P16, but only for a moment as Button, having gotten on top of his earlier issues, went clear to 13th and Chilton’s teammate Bianchi took over 16th, with Gutierrez sandwiched in between. Hamilton, Rosberg, Massa, Bottas, and Alonso ruled the roost as the midfield became nervous at the times they were seeing from the back and began a wholesale switch to the options to avoid being relegated.

Grosjean was the first to strike, into 7th with the softer tyres, followed by Hulkenberg into 5th. This put the pressure onto Raikkonen who also switched to the options to ensure his progression. Vettel meanwhile was dropping like a stone as he opted to bet on his time and stay in the garage rather than use a set of the options.

At 3 minutes to go, Bianchi, Gutierrez, Chilton, Maldonado, Kobayashi, and Ericsson were all on the outs as Raikkonen took 13th on the options. Sutil looked good to go clear, but his time was disallowed for exceeding the limits as Turn 8 began to bite hard under the cooler conditions.

Button managed 12th as the time dropped below 2 minutes and Raikkonnen took 7th as the second lap looked much more comfortable in the Ferrari. Sutil came round for his last try and couldn’t quite do it and he had one chance left as the checkers dropped. Vettel had sunk to 15th but looked to be safe as first Gutierrez then Ericsson and finally Bianchi all failed to improve with their final chance. Sutil, his tyres shot, boxed to end the session in P17, followed by Gutierrez, Bianchi, Kobayashi, Chilton and Ericsson.

Q2

Again there was a lazy start to the session as no one left the garage until several minutes elapsed. It was Force India leading the way, no doubt hoping to get Perez up the ladder as far as possible to make up for the 5 grid spot penalty from Canada. Hulkenberg was the early leader as American telly began showing replays of various cars flying as they went wide through the last turn and encountered the service roads that intersect the grassy runoff area. No sooner did they do this than Alonso made their point by running wide and getting slightly launched himself.

At 7 minutes the rest of the field began to set their times and it was Hamilton taking the first lap, but Rosberg taking the second and P1 followed by Lewis. Bottas, Massa, Magnussen, Kvyat, Alonso, Perez, Ricciardo and Button rounding out the top 10 with Vettel noticeably absent. AS the track settled into a lull with everyone making final preparations to have one more go, there was great speculation about the source of Seb’s woes.

At the 4:30 mark Rosberg complained of understeer and asked to go back out and set another time. AS he headed back out for his last go with the rest of the runners, his teammate elected to stay in the garage and save a set of options for Q3.

As they came around for their final laps, both Vettel and Ricciardo were outside the top 10 and clearly having some struggles with the tyres. With less than a minute to go Vettel hit the line and everyone collectively held their breath to see if this master of one lap qualifying could pull out a decent time at Red Bull’s home race. The answer was a resounding no and as the rest of the cars tailed through the checkers it was to be P13 for Vettel, though Perez’ penalty ensured that Seb would start P12. Also benefitting was Button who complained of being held up by a Lotus, echoing a complaint voiced earlier in the session by Hulkenberg. Still, cold comfort as both drivers failed to make Q3, followed by Maldonado, Vergne, Grosjean and Perez.

Q3

And again the waiting game was played as no one stirred from the garage until the 10:30 mark, when Williams decided it was time to take advantage of a clear track. Bottas set the early pace, with a blistering lap and as Hamilton rolled out it was clear there would be more than the pro forma competition between Rosberg and Hamilton. Lewis held the upper hand on new tyres and was well up through S2 but coming into Turn 8 he lost it and went well wide, setting no time. Rosberg on scrubs also had a scruffy lap and was only able to take P2, followed closely by Massa. Alonso, Ricciardo and Magnussen were further back and clearly playing a different game as everyone boxed for new tyres.

The field began to roll with 2 minutes left in the session and the sense of drama was palpable. Rosberg elected to follow Hamilton and as Bottas was in front he was the first to crack as he made a mistake that cost him any chance of improvement. But he was not the only as going into turn 2 Lewis inexplicably turned the car completely around as he downshifted and wound up going off with the rears fully locked. This brought out the yellows and wrecked Nico’s lap bringing Mercedes’ dominance in Quali to an end. As the announcers went into full dramatic froth mode, Felipe Massa put in his best lap of the year to pip his teammate for pole and ensure a lockout for Williams while the TV director was busy showing replays of Lewis’ mishap.

2014 AustrianGP - Felipe Massa Pole

Congratulations to Williams for their front row lockout and Felipe Massa for pole, followed by Bottas, Rosberg, Alonso, Ricciardo, Magnussen Kvyat, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Hulkenberg, whose time was disallowed for exceeding the limits at turn 8. With many unanswered questions from today, fast cars out of position and completely different weather tomorrow it promises to be the most exciting race of the season.

Final Results:

# Driver Ctry Team
1 Felipe Massa Williams
2 Valtteri Bottas Williams
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
6 Kevin Magnussen McLaren
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus
9 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
10 Nico Hulkenberg Force India
11 Jenson Button McLaren
12 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus
14 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus
16 Sergio Perez Force India
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham
21 Max Chilton Marussia
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham

71 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: An unexpected but very welcome result…

  1. Someone should have explained to Lewis that if you want to ruin your teammate’s lap by losing it in front of him, then it’s best to have banked a qualifying time first – lols.
    Although I have to say that Lewis’ version of “OMG, I’ve lost control” was far better acted than Nico’s. Kudos to him :p

    • LOL, did you see Paddy Lowe being interviewed? He looked like a substitute teacher on his first day. I miss Ross.

      I won’t pretend to be expert car dude, but the way Lewis locked the rears up looked really strange to me, with that incredible snap. Guess we’ll hear soon enough, but they changed a awful lot of bits and pieces on those cars.

      • Basically he pushed too hard and braked too late. The rears come around like that when you are overcooking it and the rear axle locks.

        As we know from Canada, Lewis prefers a more rearward brake bias to get that extra turn on apex, i.e. more trail braking which is why Lewis is one of the fastest guys out there.

      • Yeah, Paddy didn’t look happy at all.. Lewis was 3 tenths up on Massa’s eventual pole time when Lewis went off at T8. Rosberg by contrast had been behind Lewis all weekend.

        • “Rosberg by contrast had been behind Lewis all weekend.”

          I guess FP1 doesn’t count

          • No it doesn’t, that’s why it’s called “free practice”

          • Good god man, your clutching at straws…..

            The aim of Q2 was to get through to Q3, it wasn’t to see if you’re faster than your teammate.

          • As your boyfriend didn’t post a time in Q3 – Rosberg was quicker in two of the three qualifying sessions. Case closed.

          • “My boyfriend”…. You almost got a chuckle out of me…

            Is that why you hate him so much, because he didn’t want you as his boyfriend?

            Come on now, keep the discussion F1 related no need to show your ignorance by making homophobic references mate.

          • I think it’s fair to say Hamilton had the edge on Rosberg on pace all weekend. In Q3, Hamilton was up 3 tenths on Massa’s pole time but lost it at T8. Rosberg by contrast could only get 3rd place. Hamilton could have gone easy in T8 and comfortably got pole and an easy win, but the ‘psychological pressure’ of Rosberg probably made him push too hard. Lewis has been bitten for putting in slower banker laps recently.

          • Also, Hamilton was actually learning the track in T1, however by T2 he was comfortably clear of Rosberg. He hasn’t looked that much faster since Malaysia’s race.

  2. Lewis is starting to lose it. Monaco seems to have derailed him more than anticipated. If he doesn’t win this year’s title with the best car of the field he’ll never get over it…well, there’s always 2015, but still!

    • Well, he’s going to be behind the eight ball until/unless Rosberg has some DNF’s. He did do a good job of not losing it in front of the cameras though, so who knows.

      Makes tomorrow more fun!

      • If Rosberg runs into trouble, and the Williams do a stop more, we could have Alonso at the front, trying to hold off all challengers!

    • Not sure if he’s losing it, but I certainly wouldn’t have been pushing that close to the limit if I knew there was only one chance to post a time. Vettel seems to be able to manage it but not many other drivers can.

      To be honest, I think it was a bit of a team slip-up as well. The lap is so short that he could have been got out in time to have two laps which would have given him a banker at least.

      • I certainly wouldn’t have been pushing that close to the limit…

        Which is why you’re not an F1 WDC and multi-time GP-winner and pole-setter!

        Being “cautious” is a great way to ensure mediocre results, b/c “he who dares, wins! (if they don’t crash-out)”

        • I suspect being 6’1, weighing a tad over 200lb and not having parents rich enough to afford to let me play at go-karts may have something to do with it as well! 🙂

          The Merc has enough pace to get in the top 4 without having to push to the very limit. He didn’t have a time and needs to get decent results to stem the points loss to his team-mate. Pushing to the limit and risking not setting a time at all wasn’t a smart move. Too much to lose not enough to gain, especially with a superior race car.

          • Question…

            Had he not had that lock up, would you have come to that same conclusion?

            It’s easy to make that assessment after the fact, but unless he’s able to see into the future and knew before hand, that he would’ve ran wide on his first Q1 run (which was 3 tenth quicker than the pole lap) and that he’d later suffer a brake lockup. It seems unfair to say, “he was pushing too hard”.

            That lockup could’ve happened even if he wasn’t pushing too hard.

          • That, of course, is the one thing we can’t tell. If he’d nailed the lap then he would have been three places ahead of Nico and in with a good shout of pulling back a good chunk of the gap between them.

            The thing is, you’ve got to look at where we are in the season. He doesn’t need to wipe Rosberg out, he just needs to finish ahead of him for the rest of the season to gradually pull the gap back.

            Pushing is always a risk when you don’t need to take those risks. All he needed to do was get ahead of or at best very near to Nico and deal with it in the race. Instead he’s a few rows behind and in danger – the GP2 race showed what can happen in to that first corner.

  3. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Hamilton has a coming together at the start of tomorrows race and Rosberg wins. That would put Rosberg 47 points ahead and the WC would effectively be over.

    • I guess you’ve forgotten Raikkonen’s 2007 title then? 47 points is less than 20 in the old system and we’re halfway through the season. It says very little at this stage.

    • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if…

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if…Ferrari again underperforms and again fails to deliver a result proportional to the massive blood & treasure they’ve been wasting in F1.

    • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if…

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if…Perez crashes himself and takes out a competitor but again fails to acknowledge responsibility for his shenanigans.

    • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if…

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if…Vettel makes an amazing recovery and mounts a challenge to the leaders that sees him ultimately finish on the podium in 3rd.

      (isn’t this fun? can do it all day…)

      • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if… we see Alonso pulling the car higher up than it should be… JS recently said Ferrari ‘skim’ $85m off the top of the prize money/FOM revenues (2.5% of each).

    • 47 points doesn’t mean much these days. You make up 7 points just by winning with your competitor in second place and there are more than enough races left to manage that.

      Even if Rosberg takes a leaf out of Richard Burns’ book and takes it steady for the rest of the season he is unlikely to win unless Lewis has more bad luck or pushes too much…

      (Is this season maybe more Burns / McRae than Senna / Prost?)

  4. Well, that was a shambles IMO. Charlie “We’re going to try and give less penalties for racing incidents” Whiting then deletes the times of half the field throughout qualifying, including Hamilton’s when he lost a huge amount of time in S3, running wide to stop a spin. That he would have gotten 4th on the grid with it was incidental – Rosberg set his fastest lap at Canada by cutting the course and was only given a warning.

    At worst, they should just be penalising people if they cut it and gain time over their previous best sectors, like a yellow flag best sector. Sutil might still have lost his time that would have bumped out Maldonado from Q1 for that reason for example. Maybe they are bored in the Stewards room?

    • I can’t help but feel they are veering back towards “Drive through penalty, for being 1mm over a white line, while taking avoiding action after passing around the outside, at 160mph, at the fastest corner on the track” on Grosjean. They could just put another sausage kerb there, and it would be null and void.

    • You’re full of good ideas today! That would be most sensible if you posted a best sector or best time and went off track to have your time nullified, otherwise to have it counted. And in Lewis’ case it was an obvious off.

      But of course we know what happens to all sensible ideas in F1….

    • “Rosberg set his fastest lap at Canada by cutting the course and was only given a warning.”

      Which is exactly what Whiting told them would happen provided it wasn’t done to stop the driver behind from overtaking, and Hamilton wasn’t in position to overtake – so no penalty. Whiting was completely consistent with the rules. Had Rosberg done it again he would have been penalised and he knew that before the race started, and M-B were told that during the race by Whiting.

      In today’s qualifying the drivers were all told that if all four tyres were over the white line the time would be scrubbed. That’s exactly what happened to all the driver’s who went over the line. He’s being consistent again.

      • They were also told in Canada they’d get a warning first time and a penalty if they did it again. Here they were told not to do it at all.

        Maybe not consistent in what they are told but consistent in how it is enforced.

      • “Hamilton wasn’t in a position to overtake”…

        You always seem to omit the parts that would make your statement irrelevant…

        I wonder if you would’ve said the same thing had it been Lewis who cut the corner and effectively taking himself out of another DRS attack on the run down to turn 1

          • Why? Is it because I’ve highlighted your inability to be objective or to apply logic?

        • The rules are the rules. Nico wasn’t being overtaken – that ticks box 1 – and it was the first time he’d done it – which ticks box 2.

          I would be fairly certain Charlie Whiting would also have considered the likelyhood of a pass in to turn one had this not happened but that would be quite unlikely for identical cars and very, very hard to prove.

          Nico was given this one chance. You can be sure if it had happened again he would have been penalised just the same that you can be sure if Lewis had done it the same test would have been applied to the circumstances and – if they were identical – the outcome would have been the same.

          • Not doubting Charlie’s ability to apply the rules fairly (even though at times he hasn’t)…

            But it’s hard to deny, that it didn’t have an impact on the race at that time. Because it would’ve been interesting to see what would’ve transpired, had Lewis been able to use his DRS on the start/finish straight.

          • He’d had several laps beforehand to judge the effect of DRS. From memory it was very limited between the Mercs.

            For me, he made the right choice – or what would have been the right choice had circumstances not got in the way. Letting them fight it out would have resulted in a better show for the public and at the rate he was going Lewis would have got past eventually.

            Personally, I’d rather see the first ‘transgression’ in cases like this be let slide rather than one mistake leading to a driver being forced to give up position. I’d rather see the pass made on track. Letting one incident slide means the defending driver can’t keep doing the same thing so allows margin for errors.

      • I know the enforcement was consistent in both cases.. what’s really frustrating me is this constant moving of the goalposts. And that I only found out on here recently that the yellow flag purple sectors are now not a penalty but whatever else they have come to (I forget just at this moment).

    • He does for all qualifying sessions at TJ13! It makes K-Mag sad, so he and Marcus start to wave their white flags…

  5. I had both Williams in 3rd and 4th places in my predictor but I never expected then to lock out the front row. Good luck to them in the race. I hope they dont eat their tyres. It would be nice to see Massa win another race, after so long playing rear gunner for Alonso.
    Will Williams let then race, or will team orders prevail? In which case which driver will they favour?
    Should be a good race. 🙂

    • It is said that the williams boys struggled with the rear tire life duration during the free practices but the track is evolved since then.

    • I can see another crap score on the predictor…. I’d banked on Danny Ric carrying on his good run of form to push Massa down to 4th. Putting Rosberg in front of Hamilton was always a risky move but looking even worse now! Even Alonso is out of position for me, too high!

    • It would be nice to see Massa win another race, after so long…

      +1

      Today’s was probably the most sympathetic pole I’ve ever seen won in F1. How could anyone begrudge Felipe such a nice result?

      • Oh don’t get me wrong. Fantastic for massa. I’m mad of myself for choosing the wrong williams

  6. @ Matt55 am with you on the tyres,sparks and rain lol. The tension for tomorrow is like a dry ice bomb swelling up a corked bottle …

  7. Sorry but no mechanical problems. Hamilton yet again melted under the pressure just like he did in Bahrain and Canada.

      • That’s not gonna change anything. Rosberg is gonna win the race and I afraid the championship too. I think Hamilton have to much hungry and that’s why his brain is always hot.

  8. RE: Lewis’s braking issue.

    Something I noticed in Q1, Lewis was locking up, just a little, as he turned into T1. Once the lock up happened, he released immediately, such is his style if entry that’s it’s almost a deliberate error to rotate the car.

    The strange thing is, it was his left front locking. That’s the outside loaded tyre on entry to apex. Now that’s not normal. All others were locking the unloaded front right, which is normal.

    Now unless physics doesn’t apply to Lewis, something storage was happening or being tested on his braking system.

    Second, I noticed an unusually early turn in point in many key corners requiring rear stability. Why? When a driver is doing that, he doesn’t trust the rear on that flick turn in point so tries a shallow line, lowers min apex speed, then mashes the throttle a touch earlier and gets super duper uber exits and higher speed.

    I noticed this all before his Q3 spin. I was even thinking of posting about these and two other observations about Lewis’s braking.

    Now to the spin. That was a pure rear axle lock up. A driver error is highly unlikely IMHO. Something wasn’t calibrated correctly, maybe a dynamically set brake bias corner to corner. Something that automatically does it’s best to make sure the wheel that normally locked doesn’t so the others take the load more in the initial braking application.

    That might explain why a loaded tyres burns up into T1 and the unloaded one is perfectly fine. That also might explain why out of no where, his initial application, which wouldn’t be that intense in the first second, was a complete axle lock up.

    I know I didn’t make F1, but I know enough and physics is physics. Something odd is happening and watching all practice and Q1 and Q2 near on confirmed it. Q3 for me was like, ficking knew it.

    Like their interlinked suspension, I think they are working on an intelligent brake system too. I think Canada is related to this too, I think they said BS about heating, I think the brake failures are related.

    You heard it here first.

    • @ Still

      ” …. The strange thing is, it was his left front locking. That’s the outside loaded tyre on entry to apex. Now that’s not normal ….. ”

      That’s been happening on both Mercs at various times recently.

      I wonder if it’s something to do with their FRIC suspension system ?

    • Didn’t Toyota have a similar system nixed at LeMans? If I can get tech article up I will go have a look. Basically the driver picked a setting and the computer made the adjustments as the car went through the corner. FIA said no beans.

    • all good and duly noted points! way too many computers controlling way too many functions. software engineers have become too important, IMHO.
      I understand the extreme drivers’ skill sets necessary in constantly making adjustments on the fly to get the most out of the lap – it is just not very endearing to me and does not lend itself to creating a “Legend” from today’s crop of drivers.
      back in the day, drivers were affectionately called “shoes”.
      “fingers” is more appropriate today…

  9. RE Track Boundaries – what part of all four wheels over the white line is so complicated? I really dont understand why there is even a conversation. And why some are penalised and others not is a total failure of the system. Really, at all FIA Grade 1 circuits there should just be mandatory two meter wide grass strip on the outside of all corners before the asphalt runoff area. That would be enough to stop this nonsense and maintain the safety aspect.

    All in all I’m extremely happy F1 is back to the A1 Ring. Such a great venue and polar opposite to the stale, barren and flat expanses labeled as “racing circuits” built recently. And the lower number of corners makes each one that much more important. The body language of the cars really shows how much harder the drivers take it to the limit at this venue.

    • “there should just be mandatory two meter wide grass strip on the outside of all corners before the asphalt runoff area. That would be enough to stop this nonsense and maintain the safety aspect.”

      Indeed. What I don’t understand: if it is safe to KEEP F1 circuits that have grass on the edge of the circuit, why is it NOT safe to MAKE shiny knew Tilke-dromes with grass on the edge of the circuit?

      • I imagine it’s for the safety of other series that race (MotoGP, slower junior formulae), as F1 is probably safer than them despite higher speeds. At least I hope it is..

    • @ av2290

      ” I really dont understand why there is even a conversation ”

      because certain fanboys are bitchin’ coz their idol fucked up and qualified badly ….

      sour grapes 🙁

    • I guess my point is that it was anti-F1 in the same way double points is.. but the further removed we get from the history of F1, the less these ‘spirit of the rules’ seem to matter (or get forgotten in the addition of more and more).

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