Category Archives: Qualifying Report

Rosberg Pips Hamilton To Japanese Pole

Nico Rosberg cemented Mercedes’ return to dominance when he grabbed pole at the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday. The German had to fight off the challenge of his team-mate who edged closer every session, but an error on his timed lap in Q3 cost Hamilton and he settled for the second slot on the grid. Valtteri Bottas proved best-of-the-rest while Daniil Kvyat emerged unscathed from a mammoth crash.

In an effort to make up for the lack of dry running, most of the drivers took to the track as the green light flashed at the beginning of Q1. Max Verstappen was the first driver to clock a lap, although his fast first and second sectors were somewhat tarnished when he slipped wide at the final chicane. The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg jumped then to the top of the timesheets while the Williams cars and Daniel Ricciardo were some of the men separating the Silver Arrows from Verstappen’s Toro Rosso. Marcus Ericsson came close to clouting the barriers when he touched the astroturf on the lead into Spoon curve, with his C34 snapping and spinning into the gravel, leaving a startled Ericsson asking what had happened.

His spin affected Marussia driver Alexander Rossi who couldn’t set a competitive lap with the yellow flags flying and so ducked into the pits. When he returned to the track at the end of the session to finally set a lap, Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso ground to a halt just after the hairpin with what looked like a mechanical gremlin, which again impeded Rossi and left him without a lap time. It also affected Button who didn’t have the chance to improve on his time and got stuck in 16th – meaning he’d drop out of Quali at Q1. He blamed the team for not telling him which way to set his engine and subsequently setting the wrong engine map himself. It’s the first time in his career the Briton hasn’t qualified in the top ten at Suzuka. This benefitted team-mate Alonso, though, who narrowly scraped through to Q2.

Q2 got underway and, although fast enough to progress into Q2, Verstappen was obviously out of contention and watched from the pitlane. Almost immediately, Rosberg dived to the top of the timesheets and was soon followed by Hamilton who went second fastest. The Williams men flanked the Silver Arrows but Kimi Raikkonen edged himself two-hundreths ahead of Massa, while Vettel occupied the other side of the Williams. The top six felt confident enough to sit out the rest of the session, leaving the remaining eight to battle it out for the last four places in Q3. Perez split the Red Bulls with the three men in the top ten, while a late lap from Alonso was not strong enough to make the top ten. Hulkenberg opted not to put in one last lap and was demoted to eleventh – and out of qualifying – when Grosjean took the last Q3 spot. The Force India driver has a three-place grid penalty from his crash with Massa last weekend and so will drop to fourteenth as a result. Carlos Sainz clocked twelfth ahead of Maldonado, with Alonso in fourteenth but only 0.5s off the cut-off mark.

Although ten drivers were left to battle for pole position, realistically only two were in the fight. Rosberg was the first to set a timed lap in the session and clocked a 1.32.584 while Hamilton set a lap 0.076s behind the other Mercedes, although this was on a lap where he locked his brakes at the hairpin, suggesting he could overthrow Rosberg for pole. Behind them, Bottas provisionally clasped third ahead of Vettel, Massa, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Grosjean.

But as the drivers returned to the track for the final laps, Kvyat touched the grass on the entrance to the chicane and lost control of the car, spinning into the barrier which sent him sideways across the gravel and rolling the car. The Russian’s RB11 was utterly destroyed in the impact which will neccesitate a full rebuild, and as a result he will start the race from the pitlane. The red flag spurred by the crash came with only 36 seconds on the clock meaning there would not be enough time to set another lap and so qualifying was ended. Rosberg took pole as a result, with Hamilton rueing his lock-up which potentially cost him pole and Bottas taking third for Williams. Vettel took fourth for Ferrari, with former Ferrari man Massa ahead of the other Scuderia car, piloted by Raikkonen. Ricciardo took seventh ahead of eighth-placed Grosjean, while neither Sergio Perez nor Daniil Kvyat could set a time before the red flag, leaving them ninth and tenth.

Provisional Starting Grid:

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Felipe Massa
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Daniel Ricciardo
  8. Romain Grosjean
  9. Sergio Perez
  10. Daniil Kvyat
  11. Carlos Sainz
  12. Pastor Maldonado
  13. Fernando Alonso
  14. Nico Hulkenberg
  15. Max Verstappen
  16. Jenson Button
  17. Marcus Ericsson
  18. Felipe Nasr
  19. Will Stevens
  20. Alexander Rossi (No Time)

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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Hamilton Eases To Australian GP Pole

Lewis Hamilton stormed to an unchallenged pole position at the Australian Grand Prix today, as Mercedes team-mate Rosberg predictably filled out the front row, albeit six-tenths down on Hamilton’s lap.

While Hamilton set an incredibly quick 1.26.4 on his first timed lap in Q3, Rosberg made a mistake at T15, sliding off the track and bailing into the pitlane as a result. This put the German on the back foot as he began his second timed lap, and could only go 1.26.9 – before Hamilton went faster again and put down a 1.26.3 lap as the checkered flag fell.

Felipe Massa was the best of the rest, slipping ahead of the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. On his Qualifying performance, Vettel said “3rd was possible today and we didn’t do it. It’s possible again tomorrow.” While Massa has reason to smile with his grid slot, his 1.27.7 laptime put him 1.3 seconds shy of Hamilton’s lap – showing the huge gap between Mercedes and the rest of the grid already.

Valtteri Bottas made a mistake coming out of the final corner on his flying lap and had to wrestle his Williams into staying in a straight line. The slip cost him time and the Finn qualified sixth, although it emerged afterwards that he had been complaining of a pain in the small of his back since the middle of Q2. Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley says they don’t know yet what is causing the pain, but a very stiff looking Bottas clambering from his cockpit post-Quali is an ominous sign for his race performance tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz had a strong showing on his Formula One debut as he qualified eighth ahead of the Lotus duo, who were equally pleased to make it into Q3 after their dismal 2014 showing. While Sainz’s eighth is a strong performance for Toro Rosso, his younger team-mate Max Verstappen showed immense promise when he went fourth in Q1, before his car let him down on the apex of turn 4 and ruined his flying lap in Q2. The Dutchman could place no higher than twelfth today, but money would be on him shooting through the grid in tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was the first man to miss Q3, although qualifying eleventh is still something to be pleased about for his team following their pathetic effort last season. On the other hand, Nasr’s team-mate Marcus Ericsson was knocked out in Q1 and will line up sixteenth on the grid, almost a second slower than the sister car in the first session.

Daniil Kvyat qualified thirteenth in his first race since his promotion from sister team Toro Rosso, and ironically was just behind replacement Max Verstappen. Kvyat will have the Force India duo of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez behind him on the grid tomorrow.

Excluding Mercedes’ astonishing lead over the rest of the field, McLaren were probably the talking point of the session as Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen qualified on the back row of the grid for the race. Button’s best lap in Q1 was 1.5s behind that of what was needed to progress to the next group. The team broke the curfew last night as they struggled with the new Honda engine, and their long night could easily develop into a long season.

Manor weren’t ready to take part in Qualifying as they continued to reinstall the software that was wiped from their cars at the end of last season, and so cannot take part in the race tomorrow. Their efforts turn instead to the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Although six-tenths down on his team-mate, Rosberg wasn’t happy with his Quali lap and the realistic difference between the Mercedes duo is a lot smaller. Still, if Rosberg doesn’t jump Hamilton before turn 1 tomorrow it’s tough to see him out-racing the Briton in a straight fight.

Australian Grand Prix Qualifying Results:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Felipe Massa
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Kimi Raikkonen
  6. Valtteri Bottas
  7. Daniel Ricciardo
  8. Carlos Sainz
  9. Romain Grosjean
  10. Pastor Maldonado
  11. Felipe Nasr
  12. Max Verstappen
  13. Daniil Kvyat
  14. Nico Hulkenberg
  15. Sergio Perez
  16. Marcus Ericsson
  17. Jenson Button
  18. Kevin Magnussen
  • Will Stevens (NT)
  • Roberto Merhi (NT)

NT = No Time

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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Rosberg Leads Mercedes Front-Row Lockout

Nico Rosberg took his eighth pole of the season at the Japanese Grand Prix today, qualifying two tenths ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. The two had swapped fastest times in the first two sessions, but when it came to the all important Q3, it was Rosberg who came out on top. Although making a mistake at the hairpin, he outperformed Hamilton who had to fight to keep his car under control in the final sector.

Williams had looked promising in the practice sessions, and they followed this up with a second row lockout; Bottas qualifying ahead of Massa. Fernando Alonso, who insists he has not made a decision about 2015, qualified an impressive fifth compared to Kimi Raikkonen’s tenth in the sister car. Ironically, Sebastian Vettel, who announced this morning that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season, qualified in ninth, just ahead of who is expected to be his team-mate in 2015. Ricciardo qualified in sixth, but Red Bull say that both of their cars are set up to optimise performance in the wet conditions tomorrow, so a strong showing from both Vettel and Ricciardo should be expected.

The McLaren men lined up in formation, with Kevin Magnussen ahead of Jenson Button, the latter now eager to impress in order to secure a seat next season. Jean-Eric Vergne was the first man to miss the Q3 session and qualified eleventh, but due to his sixth ICE change this season, he was handed a ten-place grid penalty and will subsequently start from twentieth. Therefore, Perez, who qualified twelfth, will start from eleventh. Daniil Kvyat could breathe a sigh of relief today with a seat in Red Bull confirmed for next season, and qualified thirteenth, ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Sauber’s Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez.

Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean were both eliminated during the first Qualifying session, an embarrassing situation for Lotus. Maldonado will not start from seventeenth, however, due to a ten-place engine change penalty he will take, meaning he will start from the very back of the grid. Ahead of him will be Max Chilton and local hero Kamui Kobayashi, in twenty-first and twentieth respectively. Jules Bianchi qualified behind Marcus Ericsson, but explained that a call to the FIA weigh-bridge meant he could not set another flying lap, possibly costing him a higher grid spot.

The FIA has locked in tomorrow at 3pm local time as the race start time, despite the certainty of heavy rain at Suzuka thanks to Typhoon Phanfone. The race is not expected to be called off, however, as the brunt of the storm shouldn’t hit the area until after the race. Nonetheless, tomorrow promises to be a tough race. Jenson Button  and Valtteri Bottas are two men to pay particular attention to, as they tend to excel in wet conditions. Tomorrow also offers the opportunity for a back-marker team to score a few points, as wet races often have chaotic results.

Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying Results:

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Felipe Massa
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Daniel Ricciardo
  7. Kevin Magnussen
  8. Jenson Button
  9. Sebastian Vettel
  10. Kimi Raikkonen
  11. Jean-Eric Vergne
  12. Sergio Perez
  13. Daniil Kvyat
  14. Nico Hulkenberg
  15. Adrian Sutil
  16. Esteban Gutierrez
  17. Pastor Maldonado
  18. Romain Grosjean
  19. Marcus Ericsson
  20. Jules Bianchi
  21. Kamui Kobayashi
  22. Max Chilton

Image courtesy of Mercedes F1 Team. 

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Hamilton Edges Out Rosberg For Pole

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Lewis Hamilton took pole at the Singapore Grand Prix, mere miliseconds ahead of his team-mate, and front row companion, Nico Rosberg.

Suffering a time loss due to a lock-up at turn 1 on his flying lap, Hamilton was behind Rosberg after the second sector, leaving it to a strong third sector to secure his sixth pole position of the season. Rosberg, who felt that he had done enough to start from the front, responded only with “dammit” when his team informed him of the qualifying results.

But although they started from the front of the grid (for the seventh time in fourteenth Grands Prix), their early-season dominance was nowhere to be seen as they fought off challenges from Daniel Ricciardo who was looking to take his first pole position in front of huge numbers of Australian ticket holders in Singapore. The cheer from the crowd when Ricciardo took provisional crowd was so loud, it blocked out the sound of the cars and goes to show the popularity of the two-time race winner.

His team-mate, the four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel continued what has now become the norm as he qualified behind the other Red Bull car. Fernando Alonso will start tomorrow’s race from fifth on the grid, a position he has occupied thirty-four times in his career, more times than anyone else. Although Alonso stood as Mr Singapore for several years due to his apparent stronghold over the circuit, he could not challenge the Mercedes or Red Bull drivers, all of whom start ahead of him.

Meanwhile, Alonso’s team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, was looking particularly strong and topped the opening qualifying session. Looking threatening to Mercedes, he went out in Q3 only to lose power mid-lap and crawl back to the pits, meaning he will start the race from seventh.

Massa and Bottas also looked like they could put in a genuine challenge for the front row, but, although Massa was the fastest driver after the first flying laps, they finished down the order; Massa sixth and Bottas eighth.

Jenson Button missed out on Q3 by only .017s and admitted to locking up during his lap. Romain Grosjean put no foot wrong but still missed out, qualifying twelfth and venting his frustration with the team after climbing from his cockpit. Sutil blamed an apparent lack of power for being knocked out in Q1 while Pastor Maldonado offered no excuses for not making it out of the first session.

Provisional Qualifying Positions:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Daniel Ricciardo
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Felipe Massa
  7. Kimi Raikkonen
  8. Valtteri Bottas
  9. Kevin Magnussen
  10. Daniil Kvyat
  11. Jenson Button
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne
  13. Nico Hulkenberg
  14. Esteban Gutierrez
  15. Sergio Perez
  16. Romain Grosjean
  17. Adrian Sutil
  18. Pastor Maldonado
  19. Jules Bianchi
  20. Kamui Kobyashi
  21. Max Chilton
  22. Marcus Ericsson

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

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Rosberg Beats Hamilton In Mixed Conditions Qualifying

Nico Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton to pole at the Belgian Grand Prix this afternoon, marking his fourth consecutive pole position. This time around Hamilton had no mechanical failures to blame or excuses to make as to why he couldn’t beat his team-mate, giving Rosberg fodder in the series of mind-games that Hamilton started in May. Sebastian Vettel was the best of the rest behind the Mercedes front-row, with Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo flanking him.

The Marussia men were the first to brave the track this afternoon and were followed out by the Caterham and Toro Rosso drivers. Following a heavy hail storm fourty minutes before Qualifying the track was wet and the drivers fitted the Intermediate compound to their cars. The surface water proved too much for the lighter wet weather tyres and drivers struggled for the first few laps as Hamilton, Magnussen, Bottas and Vettel all went off track at the bus stop chicane, while Felipe Massa skipped over the kerbs following a lock up at turn 7. Impressively, Hamilton went off track at the last corner but still managed to set the fastest lap. Esteban Gutierrez had no issues in the wet but he was helpless as his car gave up and forced him to pull over at turn 15 halfway through Q1. The track was relatively dry by the time the first part of Qualifying drew to an end, but Maldonado was still caught out by the conditions and spun under breaking at the bus stop chicane, forcing Vettel to take evasive action. Maldonado recovered under yellow flags but his second attempt was not enough to clear him from the drop-out zone and he qualified seventeenth. Nico Hulkenberg was a surprising drop-out in eighteenth, ahead of Max Chilton and Esteban Gutierrez. Kobayashi stand-in Andre Lotterer outqualified full-time driver Marcus Ericsson by a full second on his F1 debut.

Jules Bianchi made it through to Q2 but was in no rush to get out on track, while Romain Grosjean lead Adrian Sutil out. Perez came out and was warned that, as rain was expected, his first lap could be his quickest. As such, all the opening laps were important, but both Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi spun at turn 1 on their first attempts. Nico Rosberg headed Fernando Alonso and FP3 leader Valtteri Bottas after their respective first laps, but when Hamilton came around on his second attempt, he was quicker by a full second. The Toro Rosso drivers gambled by delaying going out but this proved fruitless as both drivers failed to make it through to Q3, Kvyat qualifying eleventh ahead of Vergne in second. Jenson Button narrowly slipped into the top ten in the final seconds, and Perez’s quest to promote himself and knock Button out failed as the Mexican couldn’t better thirteenth. Adrian Sutil made it out of Q1 and qualified fourteenth while Romain Grosjean finished just ahead of Jules Bianchi who will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix in sixteenth.

Q3 begun and brought the fight for pole. Hamilton was the first driver to start a flying lap but immediately went wide at Saint Devote and caused a loss of 1.6s over team-mate Nico Rosberg who was behind him. Rosberg crossed the line three seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who took provisional second, while Hamilton backed off to save his tyres and recorded a lap six seconds slower than Rosberg. Alonso’s first lap brought him to third, Bottas’ gave him fourth and Massa went fifth after his first effort, although Ricciardo, Button and Magnussen all jumped him in the following minute. Raikkonen was the last man to record a lap and went fifth, behind Alonso. Hamilton came around for his second attempt at securing provisional pole but could only go second, 0.7s behind Rosberg.

Vettel was the first man to set a lap on a second set of tyres and improved slightly but stayed third. The track was now drying, suggesting that the last man across the line could have an advantage. Hamilton was one of the last to start his lap but lost temperature in his brakes in his efforts to give himself some free space and subsequently went slightly wide at turn 1. Hamilton improved his time by four tenths but couldn’t get near to Rosberg who also improved him time, qualifying three tenths ahead of his team-mate. Daniel Ricciardo had a very close call after going wide at turn 19 and saving himself from a huge accident while flying over the kerbs, but his commitment was only rewarded with fifth. His team-mate Vettel was the best-of-the-rest behind the Mercedes men while Fernando Alonso finished fourth. Valtteri Bottas was sixth, a disappointing result from the Finn who tends to shine in wet conditions, while Magnussen fended off Raikkonen for seventh. Felipe Massa qualified ninth while Jenson Button rounded out the top ten – another disappointing result for a driver who excels in mixed conditions.

Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying results:

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Lewis Hamilton
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Fernando Alonso
  5. Daniel Ricciardo
  6. Valtteri Bottas
  7. Kevin Magnussen
  8. Kimi Raikkonen
  9. Felipe Massa
  10. Jenson Button
  11. Daniil Kvyat
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne
  13. Sergio Perez
  14. Adrian Sutil
  15. Romain Grosjean
  16. Jules Bianchi
  17. Pastor Maldonado
  18. Nico Hulkenberg
  19. Max Chilton
  20. Esteban Gutierrez
  21. Andre Lotterer
  22. Marcus Ericsson

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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Rosberg Eases To Pole As Hamilton Crashes

Nico Rosberg took an unchallenged pole position at his home Grand Prix today following a brakes failure on the other Mercedes car which sent his only realistic competitor into the barriers at turn 13. With no one within range of the superior Mercedes, the Williams men slotted in to second and third ahead of McLaren’s Magnussen and the Red Bull duo.

Rosberg had made a series of mistakes on his opening laps in Q1 and was pushing hard to make sure he’d progress to the next session when a Mercedes was seen hitting the barriers at turn 13. Due to the dust thrown up by the accident it was hard to identify the driver and it looked to have been Rosberg crashing out of his home Qualifying session. But as the dust settled it became apparent that it was his team-mate who had hit the barriers. Mercedes soon confirmed that Hamilton’s crash had been caused by a brake disc failure. His front brake disc broke, locking his front right tyre and causing his car to spin. The momentum carried him across the gravel and he hit the barrier violently.

The session was red flagged as the debris was cleared up and Hamilton was whisked away by the medical car, while the other cars returned to the pits. While Rosberg still hadn’t a clear lap set, he would only need to get a relatively fast lap done when the session restarted in order to progress. It was a different story in the Caterham garage though, where Marcus Ericsson’s car was still on stilts and undergoing surgery. By the time the session was restarted and the clock resumed ticking down, Caterham were no nearer getting the car ready and Ericsson resigned himself to the back of the grid.

The usual suspects moved safely through to Q2, although many of them had to burn a set of the quicker super-soft tyres to make sure they got through. Adrian Sutil, despite his seemingly improved performance this season, amid rumours of his imminent replacement, qualified down the order in a disappointing seventeenth for Sauber. Jules Bianchi out-qualified Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus by half-a-second, while Max Chilton and Kamui Kobayashi took twentieth and twenty-first – leaving twenty-second for Ericsson who failed to set a time.

Hamilton moved through to Q2 but obviously couldn’t set a lap, and so sixteenth on the grid was reserved for him. Q2 was a far more straightforward affair and resulted in Button, Raikkonen, Vergne, Gutierrez and Grosjean being knocked out, in that order. Button was quick on the radio to express his anger at a Lotus which, he said, had held him up, but replays showed that the Lotus was several seconds ahead of Button, and so the stewards ignored the complaint. Gutierrez qualified fourteenth, but his grid penalty for his clash with Maldonado in Silverstone will be carried forward, and so he will start seventeenth – promoting Hamilton to fifteenth.

While pole position for Rosberg was almost guaranteed, the grid between second and tenth was still to be decided. The Force India duo came out early but neither lap was impressive and put Hulkenberg and Perez down the bottom of the order.Bottas and Massa crossed the line next for Williams, and secured provisional second and third respectively. Kevin Magnussen pushed ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, whose team-mate then slotted ahead of the McLaren. Alonso was surprisingly off the pace and could only manage sixth for the Scuderia, while Kvyat took eighth on his first effort. For their second laps, Magnussen improved to fourth and Ricciardo to fifth, while Alonso was bumped down to ninth. Excluding Bottas’ lap, which moved him to two-tenths shy of Rosberg, no one else improved, and no one could challenge Rosberg at the front.

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Valtteri Bottas
  3. Felipe Massa
  4. Kevin Magnussen
  5. Daniel Ricciardo
  6. Sebastian Vettel
  7. Fernando Alonso
  8. Daniil Kvyat
  9. Nico Hulkenberg
  10. Sergio Perez
  11. Jenson Button
  12. Kimi Raikkonen
  13. Jean-Eric Vergne
  14. Romain Grosjean
  15. Lewis Hamilton
  16. Adrian Sutil
  17. Esteban Gutierrez*
  18. Jules Bianchi
  19. Pastor Maldonado
  20. Max Chilton
  21. Kamui Kobayashi
  22. Marcus Ericsson (no time)

*including a three place grid penalty

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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Rosberg Steals British GP Pole From Hamilton

Nico Rosberg took pole from under Lewis Hamilton’s nose at the British Grand Prix, after Hamilton abandoned his last lap, believing that a wet track would stop everyone from improving, and would secure his provisional pole position.

A dark cloud lingered over Silverstone as Q1 got underway, which brought a serious threat of rain and led the drivers to rush out onto the circuit to try to get some banker laps down while the track was still relatively dry.

The backmarkers were the first ones to set a lap, and were six seconds faster than the fastest time in the wet morning practice session. After all had drivers set a lap, it was Hamilton leading from Ricciardo and Rosberg.

The clock ticked down and, with three minutes left, Jenson Button, the Saubers and the backmarkers went out on the dry compound tyres, which would then prompt everyone to come back out. Gutierrez went top and was followed by Chilton then Button, who went nearly three seconds quicker, but had his time deleted as he exceeded track limits at the final corner.

Drivers were given the hurry up and needed to get the perfect lap to ensure that they made it through to the next stage of Qualifying – but a perfectly timed yellow flag caused by Adrian Sutil’s spinning Sauber ruined the final chance for Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen to make it through, while Fernando Alonso went wide at Brooklands and lost his chance – meaning both Williams drivers and both Ferrari drivers joined the Caterham duo in the drop-zone.

With the Ferrari and Williams story fresh in their minds, the teams were eager to get straight out on track when Q2 began. Hamilton went quickest ahead of Rosberg, while Grosjean, Gutierrez, Bianchi, Vettel, Chilton and Sutil were stranded in the drop-zone. Those in the bottom six were given the hurry-up and Vettel jumped from fourteenth to first, five-tenths clear of Hamilton’s – but this was lap time subsequently deleted after it was found that Vettel has exceeded track limits at turn 9, putting him back in the drop-zone. In the meantime, Ricciardo got within two tenths of Hamilton’s fastest time as he took the top time.

The conditions improved and the drivers swapped over to the dry tyres. Jules Bianchi was the first to improve and he went to the top of the times, although Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel weren’t long getting back to the top spots.

Gutierrez was pushing to make it into Q3 – but pushed too hard and spun backwards into the barriers at Luffield, ending his session prematurely and resigning himself to fourteenth. Meanwhile, the Marussia duo recorded an impressive twelfth and thirteenth, although Chilton will be five places down due to a grid penalty, while Pastor Maldonado was told to pull over with a loss of oil pressure and subsequently finished fifteenth.

The fastest ten drivers progressed to Q3 and, again, there was no hesitation on getting out on track. The rain had cleared but it could not be guaranteed that it would stay away, and it was important that everyone got a good first lap in – both Q1 and Q2 had ended under yellow flags. A similar end to Q3 could throw up a surprise pole position.

The Toro Rosso duo tip-toed around and put down their banker laps, while Perez beat Ricciardo to third – behind Hamilton and Rosberg respectively. The McLaren duo filled out the bottom two places with their first laps, but was then split by Hulkenberg. Rain was still falling lightly, with Hamilton on provisional pole.

Sebastian Vettel abandoned his first attempt in the hopes of saving tyres and reaping the rewards of going out after the track had had the chance to dry. The gamble surprisingly worked, and the final sector proved to be the driest section of the track. Hamilton, originally trying to slow his team-mate, safe in the knowledge that he had pole, came into the pits, and watched, helplessly, as Hulkenberg took the top time, followed by Vettel, then Button and finally, Rosberg – who took pole. As a result of the surprise dry sector, Hamilton was bumped down to sixth.

Qualifying results:

  1. Nico Rosberg
  2. Sebastian Vettel
  3. Jenson Button
  4. Nico Hulkenberg
  5. Kevin Magnussen
  6. Lewis Hamilton
  7. Sergio Perez
  8. Daniel Ricciardo
  9. Daniil Kvyat
  10. Jean-Eric Vergne
  11. Romain Grosjean
  12. Jules Bianchi
  13. Max Chilton
  14. Esteban Gutierrez
  15. Pastor Maldonado
  16. Adrian Sutil
  17. Valtteri Bottas
  18. Felipe Massa
  19. Fernando Alonso
  20. Kimi Raikkonen
  21. Marcus Ericsson
  22. Kamui Kobayashi

Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG F1 Team. 

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