Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 18. kesäkuuta 2016

Europe GP / Qualifying: Rosberg owned qualifying, as Hamilton crashed out in Q3!

Everyone was excited, as the Formula 1 circus moved to the brand new Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan this weekend. From the very first practice session it was obvious, that it was a tricky circuit: the walls were near and it was very easy to make a mistake at the braking. I found it absolutely amazing, that the drivers were actually going 350 km/h on the 2-kilometre long finish straight!

The Mercedes drivers Rosberg and Hamilton came out right away, as Q1 got underway. They set the fastest lap times of the weekend already on their first attempts. Williams´ Bottas had been very competitive in Friday´s free practice sessions, and the Finn jumped third on his first run. There was no doubt about Hamilton´s pace at Baku, but it turned out to be hard for the Briton to put a lap together. We saw Hamilton going down the Turn 15 escape road and then heading for the pits. The Ferrari drivers Kimi and Sebastian came out not until towards the halfway of the first session. Ferrari was a bit lost with their performance in the narrow streets of Baku, and Kimi had to settle for the modest P9 in Q1, his teammate being down in P11. Out of Q2 were the familiar names: the Manors of Haryanto and Wehrlein, Button in his McLaren, Ericsson in his Sauber and the Renaults of Magnussen and Palmer.

Ferrari´s tame performance continued in Q2. After the first run Sebastian was in P3; massive two seconds down on Rosberg, who was topping the timesheets! Hamilton´s difficulties continued in the second session, as the Briton made another costly mistake at the braking, which caused flat spots on his both front tyres. At this point there were only 2 minutes left in the clock and the Briton was down in P10. Hamilton managed to put together a decent lap in the dying moments of Q2 and jumped second -a second down on his teammate. Force India´s pace seemed extremely competitive, and Perez was third fastest in Q2. Eye-catching was the fact, that this time it was Kvyat, who made it among the top ten, whereas Toro Rosso teammate Sainz was knocked out of the decisive last session. The top ten consisted of the top four teams: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams. In addition to these, Perez in his Force India and Kvyat in his Toro Rosso made the top ten.

Q3 saw a hectic start. Verstappen in his BR12 went off at Turn 1, then having a territorial dispute with Williams´ Bottas. Hamilton was four-tenths up on his teammate on his first run, when he locked up and went straight on at Turn 15, and Rosberg had to back off his lap as a result. After the first runs Force India´s Perez was topping the timesheets with Sebastian second and Kimi third! This time there were only nine-thousandths separating the Ferrari teammates. This was calm before the storm; only a moment later Rosberg stormed to the lead, being seven-tenths up on his rivals! Hamilton´s disastrous session ended, when he walloped the inside wall with his right-front wheel, which damaged the suspension, and the Briton was out of the session! The red flag was deployed with two minutes and five seconds remaining. At the restart there was an incident, which looked like an unsafe release, as Bottas was released from the pits right ahead of Ferrari´s Sebastian Vettel. After that Bottas and Verstappen immediately restarted their turf war and spoiled each other´s efforts. Rosberg decided to sit out the final run. Red Bull´s Ricciardo was able to improve his lap time, with an identical time to Sebastian! Rosberg took a sweeping pole with Force India´s Perez second! Ricciardo qualified 3rd, having set the lap time a fraction before Sebastian. Kimi qualified 5th, Massa 6th, Kvyat 7th, Bottas 8th, Verstappen 9th and  Hamilton was left in P10 due to his crash. Perez, however, has been handed a 5-place grid penalty due to a gearbox change, so the Mexican will drop down to P7.

What a race is in prospect, as Rosberg seeks redemption after two poor races, Hamilton has to once again fight his way through the field, and Perez, Ricciardo, Sebastian and Kimi smell blood in the water. Ferrari had massive difficulties to get the tyres up to temperature in Canada. Hopefully that won´t be the case at Baku tomorrow. At least the conditions are much warmer in Azerbaijan. Mercedes seems absolutely dominant in terms of performance, but I hope Sebastian will be able to challenge Rosberg at the start. And what about Hamilton and his flat-spotted tyres? Will he get his tyres to work normally or do the flat spots have an effect on the Briton´s race? Baku City Circuit should offer plenty of chances for overtaking, so I´m looking forward to an entertaining show -hopefully by Kimi, Sebastian and certain Max Verstappen!

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti