#F1 Qualifying Review: 2015 Grand Prix Du Canada- #44 for #44


Ambient 16° Track 42° Humidity 30% Wind 4-7 kmh


The sun hammered down on the track as memories of yesterday’s rain were obliterated by the relentless good weather. Plenty of shiny New engines with Ferrari having bought with 3 tokens some combustion changes with Shell bringing a new fuel to boot, and Honda spending 2 of its tokens on their MGU-H. Nevertheless it all promptly went sideways when Jenson ground to a halt at the end of FP3 bringing out the red flags for a 2nd time in the session and forcing McHonda to throw themselves on the mercy of the stewards just so Button can race tomorrow, as they would be unable to mend the car in time for quali.

The first red flag was the result of Nasr being viciously attacked by a wall as he was weaving, DRS open, down the back straight to warm his tyres. Despite a rather smashed looking Sauber, the team were on song to get him back out for quali. The end result of that excursion was to limit Hamilton to just 9 laps for the session, not what he wanted after having had his front end rebuilt overnight, along with rather limited running in FP2. Ferrari were not faring much better as down the road Vettel began suffering mysterious power loss issues, not what you want with only 2 hours to sort it all out.

Thus it was all to play for as everyone’s attention settled on track for Q1.



Clearly in an effort to make up for lost running it was Hamilton for once leading the early charge out of the gates. Ricciardo and Alonso were right there with him as the rest of the field began to trickle out.

AS the clock ticked below 15 minutes the first laps began to take shape, with only Manor, Toro Rosso and Sauber opting for the SuperSoft tyres.

Early days it was Vettel throwing the first surprise as he reported serious issues and bailed for his pits as Hamilton led the early times, into the 1:16’s with Raikkonen P2 almost a second behind him and Rosberg on his way. It wasn’t to be as Nico slotted P2 for the moment and Raikkonen was onto his second go at a time.

In the pits it was bad news indeed for Vettel as early reports were of an ailing MGU-H, meaning unless they could get it sorted he would be down roughly 160 bhp, if they could even get back on track at all.

Raikkonen reclaimed P2 with his second go then Ericsson made everyone revise their cutoff time down by going P4 with a pair of options strapped on. Hamilton improved to the 1:15’s and Alonso thoroughly entertained the crowd with a massive power slide, since using speed was not an option with the McHonda.

Jealous of the attention, Maldonado stole focus by having a spin and then beaching himself on the kerb at T1. Having gotten the push from the marshals, he then drove the wrong way down the track to swing a big U-turn and possibly unwanted attention from the stewards as well. Whilst that all played out, Rosberg claimed P1 by the mostr remarkable .002s and Verstappen took Kvyat out of P6.

With Vettel in serious trouble and Button already out Q1 was shaping up to be an onanistic dream for the midfield teams as 2 spots in the drop zone were already accounted for. As the field reset themselves in the pit a no doubt rather thoroughly chagrined Nasr made his lonely way onto the track with less than 8 minutes left in the session.

Perez, Massa, Stevens, Merhi and Vettel occupied the danger zone with Nasr P14 in the hot seat. AS Ricciardo took his outlap Hamilton climbed out of the car as Mercedes were in no doubt as to being through to the next session.

Maldonado put in a strong lap for P5 and Ferrari, having run short of time shoved Vettel out to see if he could manage to get into Q2 with his ailing car and give them a bit more time to mend it.

Nasr was first to come through with P12 and as Vettel sputtered round the track Alonso managed to go P15. With the Checkers having fallen just after he hit the line Vettel gave it one more go but it was simply not to be as he could only make P16 in a rather shocking result for Ferrari. Massa too was excluded from further participation as his Williams as well suffered a significant and as yet undiagnosed power loss. Joining them was of course Button, who hadn’t started the session, and Stevens and Merhi who were no doubt rather amused at the company they were keeping in Montreal.


Nasr was first out in the session, probably wanting to make amends for his silliness in FP3. Verstappen, Ericcson and Maldonado decided to join the party as well, with the bigwigs loitering in their garages.

Again no time was wasted with all the runners getting the early start as soon as the lights went green. Teammate drama immediately bubbled to the forefront as Nico complained about Hamilton going too slow in the pitlane to create a nice gap in front of him. This would ultimately prove to be a non issue as all the top teams again were running a 2 lap strategy to get the tyres warmed.

Finally, as the clock hit the 12 minute mark the top teams emerged just as the midfield were starting to set times. The early wave was led by Grosjean and Maldonado and it was becoming apparent that Mercedes were willing to spend an extra lap warming their tyres, even compared to the remaining Ferrari and Williams.

Thus it was Raikkonen that held sway at the top as the Mercedes duo just started their first timed laps. As per their internal rules, Nico trailed Lewis throught the session, the choice of position belonging to Rosberg for this GP.

Perez flashed to P3 while the crowd waited and then with little surprise, it was Lewis to the top and well into the 1:14’s to boot. The first two sectors had looked good for Nico, but coming past the lane he had not been able to sustain his effort and fell agonisingly behind by 0.012s in the 3rd sector, for P2

Following their new strategic pattern the men from Mercedes returned to the pits as Bottas in the Williams stepped up for his lap, with the 6:00 minute mark approaching. Verstappen, Nasr, Alonso adn Ericsson had it all to do as Bottas didi his best to get clear of the hot seat. Sainz snagged P10 and then Bottas went P3 putting Kvyat into danger. With the clock ticking it was looking more and more like a death match between the Bulls to get into Q3.

In the pits it was an unhappy Rosberg this time questioning his team’s judgement as he wanted to know who exactly was not going to let them go out for another run. The reply was short that Vowles preferred to save a pair of tyres for Q3 for two solid shots at pole. Meanwhile it was also apparent that Hamilton’s session had not been trouble free as coming into the pits he managed to hit the new kerb so thoughtfully installed by Charlie Whiting overnight at Turn 13, which made for delightful replays on the telly.

Out on track both Maldonado and Grosjean continued to take advantage of their fresh engines by going P5 and then P3 respectively and as the clock dipped under the one minute mark, Kvyat Ericsson Verstappen, Nasr and Alonso were on the outs with Sainz lingering in P10 with all of them on track trying desperately to make the final session.

After the checkers fell it was Alonso first, up to P13 but no better, then ultimately Ricciardo and Kvyat getting the better of it over the youngsters at Toro Rosso, in P9 an P8 compared to Sainz in P11 and Verstappen in P12. Of course with penalties that would be P27, which having been converted to time penalties should allow the Dutchman just enough time for Movie and a Pizza whilst serving them during tomorrow’s race. Good result for Force India as Perez made it to Q3 for the first time.


The first minute of the session saw Hulkenberg the only runner out, followed by Hamilton and Rosberg as the first minute of the session evaporated from the clock. Again, the early wave of runners was led by Raikkonen into the 1:15.1’s as the first laps were completed and again, Mercedes were going to force us to wait that extra lap to see who would have provisional pole. AS the pair got their tyres up to temperature, Maldonado went P2 before ultimately being displaced by his teammate, who was just 0.2s off Raikkonnen’s time.

IT was Hamilton purple through the first 2 sectors and Rosberg behind him purple as well, marginally better as Hamilton crossed first, posting a crushing 1:14.393 and as Rosberg hit the line, it was a disappointing 1:14.702 as he complained about a loss of grip at the rear over the radio. His engineer replied rather fascinatingly that the tyres he was on were not the best set and his second run would be better, even though he had set his time on new tyres. Behind them it was Raikkonen, Grosjean, Bottas and Maldonado rounding out the top 5.

While the cars were turned around in the garage there was a lengthy discussion as a slightly unsettled Rosberg pressed his engineers for set up changes and they repeatedly demurred, thinking that the car was ready to go and that the better tyres would make the difference to the oversteer he had felt in his first lap.

Back on track with 4 minutes to go it was a race in the pitlane with both Lotii having been released simultaneously that was perhaps the most entertaining moment of the session. One can forgive them,however, as they’ve not had much practice with both cars in Q3. On his outlap Kimi was told he’d been fueled for 2 timed efforts and as the last laps got underway, once again it was Mercedes taking it’s time warming tyres and giving each of their drivers only one shot at improving.

It was Kimi’s first lap that told the real story as his improvement was marginal, knocking perhaps a 0.1s off his first lap. With thte last seconds coming off the clock it was Grosjean ahead of Bottas on track and provisionally P3, but not for long as he failed to improve as well, but Bottas with the new tyres could and went P3 for his patience. The trend continued as Lewis came round giving it his all but still not improving and leaving the door open for Rosberg. It was clear from his sector times however, that it wasn’t going to happen and whatever he’d had in Q1 and Q2 had just utterly evaporated in Q3. Whether it was down to the tyres or missing the rhythm of a second Q2 run or perhaps just the subtle rise in track temperatures, it was a discussion his engineer quickly tabled until he was back in the garage and off the radio, though not before Nico could opine that “it was a rubbish end of qualifying”.

Hamilton, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Bottas and Grosjean make up the top 5 and the rest of the top 10 are Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Ricciardo and Perez. Tomorrow’s race will no doubt feature a rather large number of overtakes and with Maldonado firmly in the top 10 for the start no doubt even the secret NASCAR fans will be pleased.

Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on his 44th pole, and his 4th in Montreal.

Happy Race Watching everyone!

30 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: 2015 Grand Prix Du Canada- #44 for #44

    • A 5 place penalty, which he can’t serve completely due to bad qualifying, so that should be a time penalty.

        • I was just referring to his placing, not his performance. Still quite dumb to get that penalty.

        • According to a report on Pitpass…”Admitting that he passed Merhi because he thought the Spaniard had a problem with his car, Vettel was handed the 5-place grid penalty and 3 penalty points.”

          He dropped from 16 to 18 so I anticipate that a time penalty will eventually show up.

        • @mattpt55

          “No idea why he overtook under red flags though. Hard to explain that.”

          Seb has a very well documented penchant for overtaking cars off track-limits (think Alonso at Silverstone), pushing cars off-track at race-starts (Grosjean at Nuerburgring), or merely ramming into other cars (Webber in Turkey). I think we can add to this list overtaking under red flags… 🙂

      • Than riddle me this: where is the consistency? Silverstone last year, Rosberg and riciardo both escape without a penalty. US gp 2013. Button gets a 3 place penalty. In Singapore 2012 Charles pic gets a 20 sec punishment on his eventual grand prix time. And community service in the fia road Safety thing. Hungary 2006 Schumi gets a 2(!) seconds penalty for overtaking Alonso and kubica under red flag.

  1. It was great to see thousands of Canadians up on their feet waving to Hamilton on his slowdown lap. Just shows that the rubbish I read about Hamilton on the various forums isn’t a reflection of how he’s thought of by those who go and watch the races.
    I hope they’re waving to him again at the end of tomorrow’s race.

  2. The kind way to put Nico Rosburg’s qualifying is that he seemed out of sorts. Even after nipping his teammate by just over 8 cm in Q1, from Nico’s messages, something always seem to be not quite right.

    Rosberg’s Q2 complaint about lack of grip in his rear tires was, in retrospect, rather astounding. He was informed that he was on the worst of his options and said nothing in response.

    So, I wonder, was he sent out without this knowledge (then, a gaffe by his crew) or, in the heat of the moment did he simply forget? Is it normal for the crew not to tell the driver what the state of his tires are (seems doubtful but…)? Or is this an artifact of Rosberg ceding “Race Engineer” authority? (If anyone knows, please fill me in).

    Then he called his Q3, Sector 3 foray, “rubbish,” costing him any chance at a pole position. Finally, in the post-qualifying interview Rosberg twice mentioned “lack of grip” as the reason his Q3 runs weren’t up to snuff.

    Looking at his reactions, I wonder if deflecting blame from himself for not achieving pole allows Nico to more easily regroup for the race (the ploy of, “Well, it wasn’t my fault so I’ll be okay if everything goes smoothly.”). Or, knowing Lewis had actual problems throughout qualifying was this Rosberg telling the media that he, too, was suffering from various auto-related ailments (the ploy of, “Lewis isn’t the only one; I had problems, too.”).

    All-in-all it seemed like an odd way to assess one’s day and an odd way to mentally prepare for race day.

    • Yes it’s interesting indeed that the official line now is that Nico’s first set of tyres in Q3 was the extra set given by Pirelli only for Q3 running, not part of the official race set. According to Wolff those race tyres are analyzed fairly extensively and they have become quite sophisticated in picking out the best (and worst) of the lot. Apparently, with this extra set of tyres, it was just the law of large numbers exacting it’s vengeance for Monaco, as the tyres were not very good.
      Of course the interesting bit is contra radio traffic, apparently Nico insisted on making set up changes to correct the oversteer engendered by this bad set of tyres, which then, quelle surprise, caused him to have fairly massive understeer when his second set of better tyres went on for the last Q3 run. As a result, he wasn’t able to get close to Hamilton’s time. Looking at Kimi and Lewis, it’s hard to believe that Rosberg would’ve bettered the time, but he certainly would have been much closer had he listened to his engineers and left the car alone. Personally, I think the lack of a second run in Q2 did him in, he sounded genuinely surprised and rather unhappy about it. The rest was just spiralling the drain, IMO. Granted only in a very relative fashion, but it is interesting to see him appear that much out of the loop as to what the team were planning, and again not making the team look very good in the care and feeding of its drivers. The Mercedes Monaco post mortem pointed to communications as being an issue needing to be addressed, and yet again you would very much have to file this incident under communication, lack of. If anyone else ever gets it together enough to seriously challenge them, it will be an epic disaster in the making for Mercedes if this is the best they can do.

      • matt- thank you for the info on how the tires are picked. From that, perhaps he didn’t know?… But that does seem odd that he wouldn’t be informed —- or be curious enough(?), maybe studious enough(?) to want to know exactly what tires he’s using. As you mentioned the result of not knowing ended in an adjustment that hindered him!

        Now, I really begin to wonder whether the pragmatist who overlooks nothing and is on top of everything is a media contrivance constructed to more easily juxtapose Nico with the constructed perception of Hamilton being a seat-of-the-pants, natural, just get in and go all out driver.

        Oh boy… can of worms opened?

        • In my experience, limited though it may be, reality is always far more complicated than the media would have us believe. And I think you are absolutely correct, that the media simplify Nico to more easily contrast him to Lewis, just as they simplify Lewis for the same purpose (or exaggerate if you prefer). After all, they are in the business of selling things these days, and narrative sells above all else, even truth. I have met neither gentleman, and frankly even if I had I doubt I would walk away knowing much about them beyond that which they wished me to know, ala Hunter Thompson’s fantastic write up of Muhammad Ali in the late 70’s for Rolling Stone (early 80’s? I’d have to look it up and it’s late here and I’m trying to finish another project before sleep). But I wander far afield, and what interests me really is how much in disarray a team supposedly firing on all cylinders appears to be. I mean really, not going to tell your drivers ahead of time that they will only do 1 run in Q2, don’t tell Nico that his tyres for Q3 are crap. And yes, Nico is supposedly on top of all those details but at a certain level you’d think the team would simply give you this info, without you having to chase it down. I have worked in music at a fairly high level and if you want good performances you just don’t go springing surprises on performers just before the curtain goes up if you can help it. Hopefully someone will get around to asking about it before too much longer in a presser. I rather doubt they’d give me the time of day, LOL!!

        • @Dwil

          Can you imagine what the press and everyone would be saying if it was Nico who had 6 of the 7 poles along with the most wins and leading the championship?

          • Matt- agreed that it should be the team informing the driver about such “little things” of interest like tires.

            And I forgot about the Q1 question, “Why are we only doing one run?” Here is where I wonder about Nico. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought we saw this, one solid Q2 run and in from Mercedes at at least one other GP this season. Because of that thought, It didn’t seem out of the ordinary to me – and we heard nada from Hamilton. I actually took it that Rosberg wanted another go at topping the Q2 time sheet… too bad we’ll likely never know.

            fortis – for one, it would be a HUGE surprise for all, including the press. And given their often reductionist nature they’d probably be pillorying Hamilton while extolling the riveting virtuosity, and technical brilliance of Rosberg.

            Thing is, the thought, for me is actually humorous. Too bad for many media members it’s something they might really write.

          • ” And given their often reductionist nature they’d probably be pillorying Hamilton while extolling the riveting virtuosity, and technical brilliance of Rosberg.”

            My head hurts, where is the effing Webster´s.

      • It does seem that Merecedes do have a problem in communicating with their drivers.
        I’m sure that the guys on the pitwall are all very smart engineers etc, but they don’t seem to be very good at dealing with the nuances of necessarily terse messages between team and driver – and often don’t seem to know what comments might irritate rather than encourage one or other of their drivers.
        They also are a bit rubbish at making quick decisions under time pressure (too many people involved ?)

        The second run in Q2 thing is odd – why would you want to burn another set of tyres when clearly through to Q3 ?

        • If you’ll recall that Nico turned in a slower time to exit Q2 and save tyres, then turned around and had a poor Q3 in Bahrain I believe, it’s possible he needed/wanted it simply to get into a good rhythm. Also possible that he expected it based on previous discussions. That alone can be enough to do your head in.

      • One thing I didn’t appreciate is that each set of tyres is a set – the regulations don’t allow you to swap tyres around to get a better match in terms of (eg) variation in circumference.

        I’m pretty sure the differences will be pretty small – after all the tyres must be within spec – but I can understand Rosberg’s frustration. Though I’m also puzzled as to why they then changed setup to compensate for handling induced by tyres they weren’t going to use again.

        • His response to your last statement….

          “There was just lack of grip on the rear on that set of tyres in the first run of Q3,” explained Rosberg.

          “I could not just say, ‘OK the grip is going to come back on the next set’ and I don’t do anything – because that is just guesswork.

          “I had to adapt the car and say maybe that is the way it is now. And so I took some front wing off and things like that.

          “Then, for the last set, the grip was back to normal. So because I had adapted to the first set, that really put me off. And that was it – it was a good lap. It was just slow.”

          • But adapting the car to compensate for a,bad set of tyres was also guesswork. Should have trusted his engineer (now where have I heard that before… ?).

            With hindsight they should have gone with the best set first since (as Grosjean noted) the track got slower right at the end of the session, but those are the breaks.

            Also the slightly duff set was apparently the extra Q3 set, so they couldn’t have used it in Q2 for an extra run (which probably would have resulted in the same problem anyway).

            Not the greatest advert for Pirelli.

      • Thinking about it further, it’s the communication thing again.

        The duff set of tyres were the extra set supplied for Q3 use, so they knew in advance when they were going to use them. Why didn’t they discuss this with Rosberg beforehand – something which would probably have pre-emptied his spur of the moment decision to change the car’s setup.

        It’s a small thing, but it seems to be symptomatic of the inability of the Mercedes engineers to speak and understand ‘driver’.
        They have great engineers, and great drivers, but a rather poor interface between the two.

  3. A quote from Crashtor….”My race pace is usually better than his, so I will do my best at the start to gain one or two places on the first lap and then do a good race.”

    Can’t wait to see how that ends up.

    • This is so brilliant, he is a threat to everybody from Kimi and down to half of the grid, I really don’t want to miss the start.

      Then we have Felipe baby and Seb fighting through, this can be race of the year.

      Dear motoring god, your son Bernie and holy spirit of bensin, let Kimi win this one and I will never ask for anything more, amen.

  4. “not before Nico could opine that “it was a rubbish end of qualifying””

    Wow. Is it me, or is it double standards in treating Nico and Lewis? Don’t want to imagine how much flack Lewis would be getting for uttering something like this on team radio, along the lines of “team player ha ha” and “puts himself in adverse position with the team” and “he’s looking for it, again” and so on and so forth.

    For all the narrative that we’re getting of how Lewis is a PR disaster and always makes life difficult for himself and paints himself in a corner with his team, Nico seems to be getting away with—in relative terms—murder. (I also remember the “come on guys!” from earlier this year, probably China.)

    • Yes, it *is* you…. but I would say that, wouldn’t I, as I don’t like Hamilton and you do. Neither of us is wrong, we simply have different outlooks. But it still *is* you…… 😉

  5. Re Maldonado

    Has anyone noticed Maldonado’s Q2 efforts? The Sky chaps called it “aggressive” driving. For me Pastor was overdriving the nuts out of that car, trying that little too hard on almost every corner (recalled me his Williams years), yet still ending behind Grosjean when all was said and done.

    When it comes to driving a fast car fast, Pastor seems like a… butcher. Compare this to the driving elegance of your run-of-the-mill Hamilton, Rosberg or Vettel, who know all too well when that much is too much…

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