Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 23. lokakuuta 2016

US GP / Qualifying: Hamilton clinched pole ahead of teammate Rosberg!

This weekend it is time for round 18, as the Formula 1 circus moves to Austin, Texas. All drivers like the Circuit of the America a lot, and this is the fifth time that a Formula 1 race takes place there. Last year the weather threw a real challenge for the qualifying, but yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful -blue skies and 23 degrees Celsius.

In Q1 the top teams came out not until in the halfway point of the session. Nothing had changed from the previous races; once again Mercedes were stamping their authority all over the place. Hamilton aced teammate Rosberg by one tenth of a second. I found it a bit worrying, that both Red Bull drivers were faster than the Ferrari teammates. Also Force India´s Hulkenberg managed to make it ahead of the red-suited warriors in the first segment. The top nine didn´t make second runs. Home team´s Grosjean was the first one of those left behind. Also Renault´s Magnussen, McLaren´s Button, the Manor duo of Wehrlein and Ocon and Sauber´s Nasr were out of Q2. What caught my eye was the fact, that Sauber teammate Ericsson managed to get in to Q2 quite easily -making it as high as P14.

Once again Q2 was all about tyre strategy, which turned out quite interesting. Both Silver Arrows came out on the yellow-marked soft tyres, and in spite of the tyre choice they were convincingly fast -2nd and 3rd in the standings. Red Bull´s Ricciardo set the fastest lap time -but the Australian was on the super soft compound. Teammate Verstappen opted for a different tyre strategy; the Dutchman set his fastest lap time on the more durable soft compound, similar to the Mercedes teammates. The red team ran their drivers on the red-marked super soft Pirellis; Sebastian was fourth and Kimi fifth in the standings. This means that both Mercedes drivers and Red Bull´s Verstappen can thus potentially gain advantage by starting the race on the more durable soft Pirellis. Force India´s Hulkenberg (who will drive for Renault next year) did an impressive job in the second segment as well, making it 6th in the standings -only three tenths of a second down on Ricciardo on the top! Eliminated from Q3 were Perez, Alonso, Kvyat (who gets to keep his seat at Toro Rosso next year), Gutierrez, Palmer and Ericsson.

The battle for pole was going to be between the Mercedes teammates. Hamilton had the upper hand after the first attempt -but only by 72 thousandths of a second. Ricciardo at the wheel of his RB12 was already half a second off the Briton´s pace. However, it was kind of shocking to see, that Ferrari were a second down on the Mercedes duo! Although Kimi had made a small mistake in the last sector on his first run. Force India´s Hulkenberg, Toro Rosso´s Sainz and both Williams drivers opted for one run only. At the end of the decisive last session Hamilton set a crushing time in the first sector, and the Briton clinched pole by two tenths of a second. Teammate Rosberg had to settle for P2 this time. Red Bull locked out row two, with Ricciardo heading "The Flying Dutchman". Kimi led teammate Sebastian for an all-Ferrari third row. Hulkenberg, Bottas, Massa and Sainz completed the top ten.

The start today will be extremely interesting. Will the Silver Arrows be able to take the lead in spite of their harder tyre compound? Ricciardo in P3 has an excellent opportunity to challenge the Mercedes drivers, as the Australian starts on the super soft Pirellis. And once again Verstappen and Kimi are frighteningly close to each other on the grid... But in terms of duels on track, coming to the US GP weekend the FIA has given drivers more specific guidelines on defensive manoeuvres. The teams have now been informed, that any change of direction under braking which results in another driver having to take evasive action will be considered abnormal and hence potentially dangerous to other drivers. Any such move will be reported to the stewards. So it´ll be interesting to see, if this new rule changes the way Verstappen defends his position on track. Nevertheless, I´m looking forward to seeing passionate driving both by Max and my red-suited favourites!

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti