Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55

Ambient 27° Track 52° Humidity 50% Wind 1.7 m/s

Well Well Well it was a bit of a crashy start to the weekend with Vettel off into the gravel with brake issues in FP2 and Rosberg suffering a suspension failure in FP3. Both of them will now be sporting nice new shiny gearboxes along with the accompanying 5 spot penalty, Vettel’s already announced and Nico’s thanks to his adventure in wall surfing. To toss an extra bit of chum into the already oily waters, Pirelli helpfully dropped the recommended pressures overnight, which left Mercedes struggling a bit for pace and Hamilton only able to finish 3rd behind the 2 Ferraris in FP3. And that’s before the emergency suspension bodging added a bit of extra helpful weight to his car (hint: not really helpful). If there is a silver lining for Mercedes, it’s that they were able to get Nico’s car screwed back together (with Lewis’ side of the garage pitching in as well) in time to start Q1, though at the cost of working straight through and still not having determined the root cause of their problem. Brutally hot on the track with the sun thrashing the spectators and with high temperatures playing tricks on the tyres set the start of qualifying as the teams awaited the track going green.


Jolyon Palmer led the way (had to write that as it’ll be the only chance I get to do so) followed by the Manors and Saubers. After a minute and a half the faster teams began to emerge, notably Hamilton without Rosberg nearby, not Mercedes usual practice. The UltraSoft was the flavour of the session and Magnussen was the quickest of the slow teams early days. Red Bull, Ferrari and Macca all hung back in the garage, along with Rosberg. Hamilton went 1:07.014 followed by Perez in P2, half a second back with 13 minutes left in the session. No sooner had he put that time in then Mercedes sent Rosberg out to do battle, or at least to see if his car would randomly fall apart.

Massa displaced Perez for P2 at the 11 minute mark and after a slow lap, Lewis was back on it and improving to a 1:06:947, the first lap in the 1:06’s this weekend as Macca rolled out. And just like that it got interesting as Sergio Perez suffered a rear suspension failure. Ferrari trailed out during the Perez drama and Vettel went P2 and Raikkonen P3 as the field awaited the first times of the Red Bull’s and Rosberg.

Boom!! just like that Rosberg was across the line and up by 0.3s over Hamilton for P1 as Vettel lingered just 0.1s behind Lewis’ time with 6 minutes left to go. At the back of the field it was Grosjean, Kvyat, Ericsson, Wehrlein, Nasr and Haryanto with Sainz sitting P16 in the hot seat. Upper Wishbone for Perez announced as fixable and with 3 minutes those with work left to do circulated the track, preparing for their last shot at glory.

Ericsson put in a hot lap that saw no improvement and then it was all tears as Kvyat suffered a spectacular crash which completely destroyed his car, brought out the red flags and saw the driver already apologizing. On replay though, he went wide through T8 and hit the sausage kerbs and then his right rear suspension failed which sent him first into the Armco on the inside of the last turn, neatly removing the nose of his car before sailing straight on into the tyre barriers with all 4 corners off and a long night for his mechanics looming. Worth pointing out that laps are running almost 2s faster than last year, but also that suspensions are not necessarily designed for the types of kerbs being installed to keep drivers from abusing track limits.

During the interlude worth noting Rosberg and Vettel both went faster, with Vettel taking P2 away from Lewis and at the back Wehrlein put in a rather staggering time to go P9 and looking like a lock for Q2. Grosjean as well managed to go P15 leaving Alonso in the hot seat and 1:44 left in the session, for those with something left to play for and a big queue as the track went green for the coda. Hulkenberg and Magnussen led the way and on the out lap Carlos Sainz barbecued his engine, meaning both Toro Rosso’s were out and more importantly the double waved yellows were out, meaning even for those who made it round before the checkers there would be no improvement.

Massive lap for Wehrlein and end of the road for Magnussen, Palmer, Haryanto, Kvyat (who if he had any sense at all was already out buying a case of beer for his mechanics), Ericcson and Nasr with the lantern rouge.

Q2 kicked off with a risk of rain being announced and the Mercedes at the front and off the moment the track went green. Track had already dropped to 46°C as Mercedes looked to almost be on a hot lap whilst it was announced that Hulkenberg was under investigation for ignoring yellows. Ferrari chose the SuperSoft tyre in a bit of a tyre gamble for the race tomorrow. First blood to Lewis as he ran a 1:06:228 to take P1 as Nico was held up a bit in his efforts, with Ricciardo 0.5s off in P4 and Vettel taking P3 on the Supers, meaning those will be his race tyre for tomorrow. Bottas came P5 and Raikkonen P6 as Grosjean did a bit of rallying off T6. Both Mercedes drivers took a one and done into the pits, meanwhile Red Bull elected to go back out and have a go on the Supers, setting up a potentially interesting strategy battle for Sunday. Yellow flags briefly for Jenson making a hash of it in the gravel traps with 6 minutes left, as both Red Bull drivers improved on their times. Raikkonen announced the start of the rain as the Mercedes both reappeared with the SuperSofts.

AS the rain began, Rosberg bailed into the pits and Lewis gave it a go, but was forced to back off as S2 was properly wet and raised the likelihood of Inters for Q3. Left out in the cold, Gutierrez, Wehrlein, Grosjean, Alonso, Sainz and Perez, both of whom did not participate. That was excellent news for Button, who accidentally made Q3 for the first time this season. Again good effort from Wehrlein, P12 and with P10-P15 covered with 0.5s should be some fun in the middle of the grid tomorrow.

The falling rain delayed the start of Q3, and when the light finally went green it was Ferrari at the front trailed by Mercedes and all on the Inters, just as the sun reappeared. Not for long according to radar, however, as a heavier band was reported on the way.

Raikkonen was first to drive off the track, leaving the heavy lifting for Vettel who was trailing him and fastest on track. Hamilton went P2 0.5s off and Rosberg was just coasting, though it looked again to be a Mercedes strategy as Hamilton continued on, purpling S1 and S3 going 0.3s up on Vettel for P1 on his second go round. Times continued to trend lower as Rosberg came through followed by Ricciardo upsetting the order, with Ricciardo P1 followed by Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Verstappen and then Hamilton.

With 5:30 left and the track rapidly improving, Hulkenberg went P2 followed by Massa as Hamilton once again began purpling sectors ultimately going P1 almost a full second up on Rosberg who had previously been occupying the top spot. Button went P2 (wait whut?) as Hulkenberg popped in to try the UltraSofts. Rosberg turned down a tyre change as Hamilton came in for dry tyres with just 3 minutes left in the session. Despite the radio message, Nico trailed into the pits and acquired a set of the Ultra’s along with his teammate

Tough choice for those at the top, but Hulkenberg showed the way as he purpled S1 and went P1 by well over a second. Lewis was already faster but it was Massa up to P1 as Lewis completed his lap, having backed off a bit to give himself room behind Ricciardo and a chance at an even faster time with his final effort. Raikkonen went P1 then Hamilton (who hadn’t backed off THAT much, apparently), Rosberg and then the Hulk again all took P1 in succession as it was going to be last man standing as the track dried. With the checkers out it was Vettel, Raikkonen and then Hamilton to the top but Hulkenberg went P2 then Rosberg displaced him for P2 and that’s how it finished: Hamilton with pole position, followed by Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Vettel, and Button. With penalties, however, tomorrow’s grid will feature Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Button and Raikkonen filling the first 2 rows, barring the result of the investigation into the Hulk ignoring yellows.

Given the generally ruinous starts Lewis has had when he’s at the front, and the contra tyre strategy being run by Red Bull and Ferrari, tomorrow’s race looks to be a bit of an entertainment. Factor in that Rosberg has been fastest in the dry all weekend, with both he and Vettel starting out of position (never mind Perez), and you definitely have a race worth watching. Brilliant stuff from Wehrlein, Button won the weather lottery and the grim continued at Toro Rosso with both drivers out in rather brutal fashion. Q3 delivered the goods as Bernie’s sprinkler idea looking better and better (hahaha!) as the wet once again saved the day. With a bit of luck, more of the same tomorrow!


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14 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: 2016 FORMULA 1 GROSSER PREIS VON OSTERREICH

  1. Thanks Matt. As always.
    Where to begin… oh yes. Werhlein deserves a massive mention. What a lap that was! Dtm experience? Maybe. But he still had to do it. Very exciting stuff from him.
    Same goes for hulk. It seems when the fun of a drying track starts hulk knows how to play. In buttons case, he was just lucky. (I’m kidding! Or am I?)
    As for Mercedes… the mechanics that helped nico, were they the ones that left nico in the first place for Lewis? Or did all of lewis’ mechanics help nico? I feel a conspiracy coming up! Helping nico and sabotaging Lewis? It’s a cruel world and things happen for a reason. Stuff like that. But Sunday Lewis will storm off with no threat from behind.
    Ferrari pré rain looked pretty good. Will it rains tomorrow? It is rain season in Europe after all. For the non Europeans: you guys know it as summer.
    Danny is over a second faster as max. Where is the hype gone? Haven’t heard a single Dutch person talk about him since fp1 in Monaco.
    And it’s not that they’ve been busy with football.
    German telly had some useful remarks about the curbs how they generate powers in a opposite direction than which the car can take them, kvyat went left yet the right rear broke because the tyre got pushed out to the right side.

  2. Gutted after Red Bull failed to get their timing right. I can understand them going for one lap at the end of Q3. But with so much time left, and so much track improvement, they should’ve waited – or give them an extra lap.

    However. I have to admit that even then Max probably wouldn’t have beaten Ricciardo. And he should be doing that.

  3. Formula 1 is a strange beast.
    Tracks have been altered to allow huge run off areas for safety reasons, but then they install new kerbs which destroy the suspension of cars. I think it has happened to 3 drivers so far this weekend. That seems somewhat dangerous to me, not only for the drivers, but also for the crowd and the marshalls. Herbert came out with his usual lot of bollocks. “If it was Monaco there would be a wall there, so they would make sure they didn’t drive so wide”. In case he hadn’t noticed, this is Austria, not Monaco, and drivers will drive differently.
    It appears ludicrous to me that they install kerbs that will destroy a car. Hardly the best thing to do to ensure the safety of the drivers. Make the stewards work, let them penalise a driver 5 seconds each time they go out of the track limits, unless it is to avoid another car or debris on the track.
    Austria is a very short track, so the drivers will always try and gain as much time as possible, because 10ths count even more here. Much better Charlie makes a sensible decision about this, than to allow the possible injury or death of a driver due to suspension falure.

    • They wouldn’t need all the new curbing if officials enforced track limits. Maybe instead of these new curbing solutions, they should put nascar safer barriers instead? Or how about every time a car exceeds tracks limits, all of the battery use and battery storage will be turned off for a lap? As Herbert has expressed many times this weekend, if drivers can obey track limits at Monaco, there’s no reason why they obey them elsewhere. Maybe the real solution is finding officials with real sets of balls or leave the decisions up to computers.

      • You might be on to something there..? ES deployment limitation for exceeding track limits isn’t a crazy idea. It would have to be judged by race control though.

      • how about every time a car exceeds tracks limits, all of the battery use and battery storage will be turned off for a lap?

        I’ve thought along these lines in the past but never managed to get to a satisfactory solution.

        Your solution is actually incredibly appropriate. Let computers electronically determine track limits (with today’s tech and in F1 should certainly be feasible, especially since we already have the ECU), and whenever track limits are being disrespected (unless overridden by the stewards) let them have no ERS deployment and no charging the following lap, making them a sitting duck vs the opposition. It should work the exactly the same way for honest mistakes, like Hamilton in Monaco or Vettel in Canada. With such incentives drivers will QUICKLY find the new limits… Keep stewards discretion for more blatant corner cutting in egregious and systematic instances.

      • I think what you are referring to is what Sega, Sony, Nintendo and Co have been using for over 20 years.

        Jesus, everything else F1 is Playstation inspired, let’s do track limits too. This time I agree.

        Back in the early 2000’s Michael Schumacher often exceeded track limits to discover the latest points for braking etc.

        When asked why he would often go off track on Friday morning he explained it was to find the perfect lap for the computer banks.

        The journalist wrote that it was how the game had changed because track design 20years previously would have punished him. Not necessarily with injury but retirement.

        This is true of every era. Limits are pushed to the maximum with no respect but if it threatens your car the limit naturally comes down.

        Let’s see how many drivers break their suspensions today before calling this a bad idea. What will happen in future the engineers will design a stronger car or the less able drivers will be found out. Neither a shame

      • You make so much sense. Brilliant idea. You should really work it out and send it to the FIA. If they’d pick it up that would be amazing. F1 racing would actually take a step forward for once.

    • I’ve not made up my mind yet on the Austria-type kerbing, but I certainly agree that the sausage kerbs are simply a ludicrous safety “innovation”. When you’ve a an element on the track that in the right circumstances can propel a car into the stands, over the barrier, you know that the FIA is on crack…

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