Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 12. marraskuuta 2016

Brazil GP / Qualifying: 60th career pole for Hamilton!

It´s a bit difficult to understand that this is actually the second last GP weekend of the season! So it´s inevitably time for round 20 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Hamilton needed pole more than ever to keep his title hopes alive. And look how it turned out...

There was a hint of rain in the air as qualifying started, with a warning that there was a 70 percent risk of a proper downpour. Everyone came out on the yellow-marked soft Pirellis right at the beginning of the first session. At first I was worried about Sebastian, who was still in his pit garage, while his rivals were doing their first runs. It was reported that the German had a brake problem, but luckily he soon joined in. After the first runs Hamilton was topping the timesheets with his teammate Rosberg second, Red Bull´s Verstappen third, Ferrari´s Räikkönen fourth and teammate Vettel fifth. The top nine (including also Red Bull´s Ricciardo, the Williams duo of Massa and Bottas and McLaren´s Alonso) sat out the second runs. McLaren´s Button was the first faller in Q1 -knocked out only by two hundredths of a second. Out of Q2 were also Renault´s Magnussen, the Manor duo of Wehrlein and Ocon and the Sauber duo of Ericsson and Nasr.

Mercedes dominated the second session as well -Hamilton once again having the upper hand on his teammate. The pecking order was excitingly mixed up in terms of Red Bull and Ferrari. It was no surprise that the drivers of these three top teams decided to sit out the second runs. Alonso in his McLaren was a refreshing surprise as the Spaniard was 7th fastest in Q2. Another positive surprise was Haas´ Grosjean, who made it as high as P9. Both Bottas and local boy Massa were knocked out of Q3 in a major shock for Williams. Both Toro Rossos were also out of the final session, this time Kvyat acing teammate Sainz.

In the decisive final session Mercedes was in a class of their own, but behind them there was an extremely tight battle for positions between Ferrari and Red Bull. Hamilton took provisional pole with Rosberg second, Verstappen third, Vettel fourth, Ricciardo fifth and Kimi sixth. Both Mercedes drivers managed to improve their lap times on their second runs, but Hamilton managed to snatch pole by a tenth of a second. The other big mover was Kimi, who leapt to third, as Verstappen, Vettel and Ricciardo all failed to improve on their second run. It was a fantastic run from Kimi, although he was 6 tenths down on pole setter Hamilton. Verstappen qualified fourth and Sebastian fifth -with only one hundredth of a second separating these two! Ricciardo was sixth and Grosjean an impressive seventh for Haas. The Force India teammates of Hulkenberg and Perez and McLaren´s Alonso rounded out the top ten.

The risk of rain in the race tomorrow is even higher than in the qualifying today. Wet conditions would definitely mix up the pecking order... Rosberg is the driver, who has the most to lose. Hamilton needs victory tomorrow, but even a victory doesn´t necessarily guarantee that he would win the championship. Rosberg doesn´t need more than P2 tomorrow. But there´re other factors, which may have an effect on his race apart from his own performance... Factors like Max Verstappen. There have been some hot rumours, that Mercedes´ Team Principal Toto Wolff had called Verstappen´s father Jos to make sure, that Max won´t interfere with the championship battle between the Mercedes teammates! But Max has his own race to run -with huge passion like always. I´m sure it will be tight between Kimi and Max going into Turn 1... I think Kimi has a real chance to win tomorrow, as neither Hamilton nor Rosberg want to take any risks at the start. Looking forward to a hair-raising race!

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