Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

Ambient 22° Track 42° Humidity 45% Wind 3.6 m/s

Gusty ass wind, never a friend to the drivers, few clouds and glorious sunshine set the scene for qualifying in Barcelona. With 6th-17th covered by a second in FP3 it promised to be a particularly brutal  session. Haas looked once again to be on the back foot and the Dan and Max show promised entertainment for all. Plenty of internecine warfare at Merc over the shiny new bits, but the real story might be the inability of Merc to sort the original issue and dare I say it, the desperation that drove them to give the new parts to Lewis instead of Nico.


Q1 is always the battle in the backfield but the Sauronic eye of the telly is inevitably drawn to the flash at the front. Both Mercedes were out fairly early and round 1 went squarely to Rosberg, clearly ahead in Sectors 1 & 3, leaving Sector 2 Hamilton’s only consolation for the moment.

With Red Bull and Ferrari typically leaving it later, when the times settled for the first half the session it was Force India showing well with their updated car. As the latelies hit the track Max Verstappen drew first blood going P3 and Ricciardo was unable to equal him. That was a secondary concern to Maurizio Arrivederci because both Bulls eclipsed the Ferraris, leaving them P5 & P6 and Ferrari completely exposed to the full wrath of FCA head Marchionne, who merely expected a win from the Scuderia this weekend. Still it was only Q1, and Ferrari had been much closer in FP3.

AS the seconds ticked off the clock those with real skin in the game queued up for their final shot at Q2 glory. Palmer, Grosjean, Nasr, Ericsson, Haryanto, and Wehrlein all had work to do as the checkers approached and Macca man Button was sitting rather uneasy on the bubble and Felipe Massa, who’d had a terrible first run relative to his teammate.

AS the checkers dropped first, Hülkenberg, then Grosjean managed to skate putting Button on his hot lap fully into the drop zone. Palmer improved to P16 only to see himself dispatched by Button who woke up enough to put in a decent time. When the dust settled it was Palmer the biggest loser save Massa, who in a massive shocker failed entirely to set a 2nd time because the team got him out too late, leaving him P18 on the grid. Except it’s not really all that much of a shocker as lately Williams has only seemed to have the resources to get one car going well. Perhaps the lack of Venezuelan petro-dollars is finally showing as the team looks a bit frayed around the edges.

Palmer, Massa, Ericsson, Nasr, Wehrlein and Haryanto were done for the day as the rest of the teams prepped for Q2.

Q2 featured Hamilton shot out of the pitlane the moment the track went green, with Rosberg trailing not too far behind, as Mercedes apparently wanted their dynamic duo to set a lap with as little traffic as possible.

Lewis set the early pace, with Nico slightly slower in S1 but in S2 something happened to Rosberg’s lap as he was nearly 0.3s off Hamilton’s pace. When Nico crossed the line he was nearly 0.6s off Lewis’ 1:22:159.

Early days had Sainz then Pérez P3 & P4 while once again Red Bull and Ferrari bided their time. Alonso put in a P6 appearance raising spirits at Macca.

Once the best of the rest put in their appearance it was again Mad Max Verstappen getting the better of his teammate and seemingly consigning Kvyat to the dustbin of history. And yet again it was Verstappen ahead of both Ferrari’s with Ricciardo bringing up the rear in P6, Vettel trailing Räikkönen for extra angst.

Those in the thick stuff included Pérez, Gutiérrez, Hülkenberg, Kvyat, Button & Magnussen with Grosjean sitting uneasily in P10, all of whom were out in search of their magic lap.

Once the checkers fell it was Hülkenberg delivering the goods first, as Kvyat could do no better than P11. Alonso went P9 then Perez P7 as Button fell rapidly down the order. Magnussen and Gutiérrez could do naught for themselves, which was a shame for Esteban as he’d gone P8 during Q1. P14 was the top for Haas as Grosjean continued to outdo his teammate in quali. Button could do no better than 12th, full of unhappiness with his set up.

After everyone caught their breath, Hülkenberg, Button, Kvyat, Grosjean, Magnussen and Gutierrez were done and their was the faint whiff of anticipation in the air as, mirabile dictu, Hamilton’s car had failed to self-destruct.

Q3 started just as Q2 did, with Lewis out the gate first followed by Rosberg on an empty track. Symbolic? Perhaps, a bit neat for my taste however. And utterly meaningless as Lewis wound it up for his first lap. As S1 ticked over the timing screen, advantage Lewis, the same for S2 but approaching T10 he had a massive lock up that handed the first result and provisional pole to Rosberg, whose lap was every bit as clean as expected.

Verstappen set many tongues a flutter as taking advantage of Lewis’ mistake as well, he went P2 splitting the Mercs. Räikkönen had a terrible lap and was sat behind Vettel with the rest (including Danny Ric) saving their powder (and tyres) for a 1 lap miracle.

At the final minute with all the drivers finally on track it was again Hamilton setting the purple sectors and Rosberg unable to match him. This time at T10, Lewis remembered his indicator and he successfully navigated it, setting a blistering 1:22 dead and leaving Nico 0.2s adrift once Rosberg crossed the line.

The drama intensified further back as Ricciardo completed his only Q3 run to step ahead of his teammate, who was still out on track. Mad Max couldn’t get it done, though, leaving him P4 to Danny Boy’s P3 as both awaited the finish of the Ferrari runs.

And it was not the news the Scuderia wanted as neither driver could get in between, never mind ahead of the Red Bulls. Räikkönen continued his quali dominance over Vettel (wait, whut??!! holy shattered TV narrative Batman!) and Bottas led Alonso, Vettel, Pérez and Sainz to round out the top 10.

A bad day at the office for Maurizio Arrivederci, who redefined the word desperation as he sought excuses for Ferarri’s poor performance and quite possibly to protect his job in his post race interview. Red Bull look to be exonerated for the Kvyat move with their results, though we’ve heard nothing about the possible tyre pressure controversy that might possibly involve teams that might or might not be Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Maybe.

And finally we had a proper contest for pole position. Hamilton fans will be delighted he finally has a car that doesn’t break and Rosberg fans will (perhaps rightly) point at the shiny new MGU-H for Lewis as the most likely explanation for the sudden reappearance of the 0.2s gap that plagued the German through most of last year’s qualifying.

Of course, Hamilton is barely 50% for decent starts this year and it’s a nice long way to the first turn so there is plenty of stuff to tune in for tomorrow. Still, nice that we might have something that resembles a race for P1 tomorrow. Possible redemption for Ferrari as they have unusually good starts, but it looks to be a defensive race for them should they eclipse the Bulls at the start. And equally worrying, the fact that both they and Haas seem to be going backward with the development race does not augur well for job security at Ferrari.

Best of all, the thoroughly unpredictable Verstappen lines up P4. How entertaining would it be for him to snatch the lead? Or crash into…. (Name your most likely candidate in the comments) T1. Discuss!

Play nice in the comments and thanks for stopping by!


38 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: 2016 FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPANA PIRELLI

  1. Good description of qualy.

    ” but the real story might be the inability of Merc to sort the original issue and dare I say it, the desperation that drove them to give the new parts to Lewis instead of Nico.”

    That’s food for thought. Why do you think that is the case?

    • I don’t really know, tbh. Merc clearly thought they had it sorted and were up to all sorts of things at Brixworth investigating it. Somers had the thought it was down to his settings and how he used MGU-H. He has always been able to save a bit more fuel than Nico, so maybe that’s where the problem was. We’ll likely never know, since this seems to have done the trick, tho I’ll wait for the race before making it official.

      • Somers theory made no sense whatsoever, because this is the 3rd year of the hybrid PU’s, so Mercedes clearly knew how Lewis goes about using the MGU-H for fuel saving. The failures had nothing to do with settings. Why would after 2+ years his settings would cause the same identical failure.

        I believe it was Ant Davidson who also said the failures had nothing to do with settings when Croft made the same suggestion.

        Lewis was only given the new part as the team stated they still could not find the reasons behind the failures. My question now is…..

        “whether this was a part they planned on introducing later on in the season or is this an experimental unit, that they hope will work?”

        P. S:…… ROS still hasn’t out qualified Hamilton when they’ve both set a Q3 time. As per Hamilton race starts, let’s not forget that apart from Russia, ROS has loss places at the start in the other 3 races.

        • there are two ways the MGU-H (actually the ERS) can be used, The ERS system is mapped into the throttle map, with a selectable level of deployment by the driver, than their is the boost push button, mostly used in qualifying, and as a sort of push to pass, in this system the turbo is in electric drive mode, both “K” and “H” are sharing ES power, in this mode the PU produces maximum power with something like 30/35 bhp more than normal, this system always had restrictions of use, remember the polemic/infighting between Mercedes drivers and team because the drivers were using the system against team instructions regarding its limited possible use.

        • the failure had nothing to do with settings (deployment setting switch on steering wheel) which are the only settings the driver can manipulate, and neither did it had anything to do with fuel saving, the failure was due to the driver use of the push button called “FREE LOAD MODE”. this mode produces the most power at max fuel flow.

          • my source of information is based on following F1 matter while very carefully sieving out the “crap” fed to their followers by some of the well known self appointed technical experts, I have no internal information, I consider the claim to internal information as total BS, And no, I do not work for the red bullies, I know that someone on here was sometime ago in a better position than if worked for the red bullies, he at least pretended that he had access to the inner nerve centre of the red bullies, once he was assuring everybody and his dog that the red bullies will be using only the Renault engine block, and that they will top-it-up with illien heads and injection system plus they will be also using their own developed ERS system.
            and a repeat note, Mercedes has been taking their hamfosi for a joy rid all along, a ride that sometimes is fun and sometimes very bumpy.

    • I have posted two posts on two different pages about this subject “Mercedes MGU-H” which asks the same question.
      when parts are damaged for whatever reason they have to be replaced with “new” once, were it is not possible to repair or not allowed too.
      I believe that a “new design” MGU-H inside four weeks (solving the problem, design and produce and proof test) is total BS.
      I believe that the problem was down to the way it was used.
      anybody remember the polemic (infighting) about the Mercedes drivers disobeying team instructions as to the use of the qualifying boost button in racing?.
      Mercedes the team are taking their hamfosi for a fun ride all the time.

      • If it was the way it was used, why was that setting even available? Why was this not discovered in 2014? Ant Davidson has inside knowledge and he clearly stated that it has nothing to do with settings.

        • I just answered you (above post) it had nothing to do with settings by the driver (settings for deployment use by rotary switch on steering wheel) those settings are than handled by throttle map, the problem was due to driver use of the “FREE LOAD MODE” (selectable/on call by push button on steering wheel). this mode was always restricted in its use, read my other posts.

          • I would understand had his failures happened on a qually lap, but the first happened in China, where it failed on an installation lap (which some moron and James Allen claimed he probably would’ve noticed had he went out in FP3) and the second was occurred at the end of his first Q3 run in Russia.

            It was Bahrain 2014 that ROS used a setting that he wasn’t suppose to and then complained after Spain when Hamilton did the same against him. We’ve heard nothing since then, so I believe this purely assumptions on your part

          • the so called “free load” system mode has no settings whatsoever such as for level of deployment and or level of fuel consumption. it is a boost system that produces maximum HP output at maximum fuel flow. as such it was always going to be restricted in its use, and next year it will be more restricted in its use. the more power produced not only the more the fuel consumption but also the more risk as to reliability. this system was already being tested on the powertrain dyno by both Mercedes and FERRARI in 2013, in 2014 it was not used by Renault and neither was it used in 2015 by Renault and Honda, their deployment reliability did not permit them to use it. in 2013 FERRARI commissioned a Renown British university to research a study as to its best use and results.

  2. I heard there is a global shortage of humble pie thanks to Matt 55, who would have thought Max would have such an outing in his first drive of the RB12.

    • not me, that’s for sure! Race is tomorrow but as they say, you can’t teach speed, but you can teach racecraft. Marko looks justified, if still dickish

  3. Please god no. Don’t let max win. The work week will be so bad. All those dutch bragging about a sport that they don’t even follow… I think tonight is the night that I’ll decent upon my knees and pray. Pray to our Lord. Lord help me lord. Oh jesus lord. Lord lord lord jesus lord. Ow lord jesus lord help me lord.

    • Hi, i’m Dutch and have followed F1 for 40 years, please enlighten me what do you know that I don’t

      • All I know is that from the 40 people at my work none followed f1. And now they are all those big shot connaiseurs even when they don’t watch the race. Just read the article in the paper. Spare me that please.

    • Jesus Christ! Help me, Lord. Jesus, please. Jesus, God! Help me, Lord, Jesus Christ, please. My shoe! Oh Lord, Jesus Christ please. Help me, Lord!

      • As an ordained minister of dudism I absolve you of your burden…. Things happen for a reason but I do have to say,the kid has speed but a teen with a point to make is like tossing a hand grenade into a box of frogs…its fun but you know it’s going to leave a stain

        • Oh I agree. Max is good.. even special. It’s his dutch country men who work with me who get under my skin. 😂

          • Don’t forget to remind those who get overly worked up that the lad is born to a Belgian mother, in Belgium, raised in Belgium, lives in Belgium and travels with a Belgian passport. However I look at it, this fits the definition of someone being Belgian… 🙂

    • hahaha bruznic man you are killing me… Odds on he’s just as likely to crash T1. Those cars are nasty with full tanks and cold brakes and T1 invites the sort of move that will always end in tears

      • If Max does crash in T1, he just has to make sure he doesn’t crash into Bling-Bling or Red Bull will be forced to write an apology letter a la Mercedes to avoid a barrage of abuse on social media.

        • I’m not sure which would be more entertaining Vettel or Hamilton. Actually perhaps he could pull off a two-fer for ultimate epic silliness points.

          • Or Vettel takes out Max and says “Sorry, I forgot someone else was in that Red Bull now…”

          • @phil
            That won’t be happening because I spoke to Jos who adviced Max to glue a carton board to the rear of his car saying: “Seb… This is Max, not Daniil…”

    • Now, I don’t want anyone’s workweek to be sad…

      Nah, I just hope for a decent race. I think P6 is the most realistic for Max. Everything better than that is a bonus.

      (And you could always ask in which country Max crawled out of his mums birth canal)

  4. “Lewis set the early pace, with Nico slightly slower in S1 but in S2 something happened to Rosberg’s lap as he was nearly 0.3s off Hamilton’s pace. When Nico crossed the line he was nearly 0.6s off Lewis’ 1:22:159”

    I do not understand why the top three teams who know they can easily get in to Q3 do not explain to their drivers that in Q2 they need to look after their race start tyre, and do a fast lap that is just better than the slow coach 7th onwards – who are usually a second or more slower.

    In Q2 Lewis and Rosberg needed to target just 1.24, and a 1.23 would also have got them the top two in Q2.
    Check the table for yourself:

    As for Mr T Lulu Bling Bling, ex-boyfriend of a pole-dancer, clearly his God was with him today, perhaps just to annoy the Judge.

    • 2011 Hamilton would have already said something to make journalists go berserk on their keyboards or break the Internet in some way. 2016 Hamilton seems to try to focus on just getting it right on the track. Problems aside, Hamilton has qualified on pole thus far. His starts have been shitty and he’s been hit in 2 races as well but he’s doing what he can. Rosberg has made the perfect start but you do get the feeling that only poor reliability would keep Hamilton from over-hauling Rosberg.

  5. Great read Matt. Thank you. What I fing the most “interesting” if thats the right word, is not Max’s awesome quaiy effort, BUT the fact that BOTH Redbulls outqualified BOTH Ferraris….Thats a first this season if im not mistaken? I know its only this race, but I just wonder if Ferrari have already shot their bolt, and that Red Bull are now ahead? I would love to be a fly on the wall in Marchionne’s office…..

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