Saturday, 26 July 2014

Rosberg on pole in chaotic qualifying

(Merecedes AMG F1 Team)

Mercedes Nico Rosberg will start tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position following an extremely dramatic qualifying session which saw his team mate Lewis Hamilton knocked out in Q1 for the second race in a row after a suspected fuel fire which engulfed the rear of his W05 which as a result means that the 2008 world champion is likely to start the race from the pit-lane.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel showed that the team are making progress and will start the race alongside Rosberg in 2nd place out-qualifying team mate Daniel Ricciardo for only fourth time this season. Speaking after the session the foru time world champion said:

'After Q2 I thought if we got everything right then we might have been closer to the Mercedes at the end than we were. Nico’s lap was very strong and it’s difficult to match them. But let’s see tomorrow, a lot of things can change if it rains and it may do tomorrow. We just have to focus on ourselves and, if we get a chance, try to make a pass, but the Mercedes is quite a bit quicker than us on the straights. The nature of the circuit here suits us more than it did in Germany, but we’re still quite far off the pace of the Mercedes.'

Valtteri Bottas did a fantastic job for the Williams Martini Racing Team as the Finn will start the race from third on the grid at a circuit where the team felt they would struggle this weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo will start the race from fourth on the grid in the second Red Bull just ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Commented following today's session Ricciardo said:

'The car feels pretty good this weekend. In Q1 and Q2 we were looking good, but when the rain came in Q3 we couldn’t get the temperature back in the tyres quick enough for one timed lap so I’m a bit disappointed not to be further up the grid. It would be good to be on the front row, but fourth isn’t a disaster. It’s hard to overtake around this circuit, so we need to aim to make as few stops tomorrow as possible.'

Infiniti Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner was happy with the Milton Keynes based outfits performance saying:

'It's a great team performance to line up second and fourth, on the first and second row of the grid. Both drivers did a great job, Sebastian extracted everything he could from the car and really seems to be in great form this weekend. Daniel as well put in a very strong performance to line up fourth on the grid. Hopefully we can capitalise on those strong grid positions in tomorrow’s race.'

Felipe Massa put in a great performance in the second FW36 and will start the race from 6th place for the Williams Martini Racing Team.

Jenson Button did a solid job McLaren and will start the race from 7th on the grid although the 2009 world champion finished the session 1.579s behind Rosberg. Jean Eric Vegne did a solid job for Toro Rosso and will start the race from 8th place just ahead of the Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.cSpeaking after the session Hulkenberg said:

'Considering our performance this morning in final practice, I think it’s a good effort by the whole team to make it through to Q3 this afternoon. The wind was affecting us quite badly, but fortunately the direction changed before qualifying and that seemed to help us. 

Then it was just a case of keeping calm, being nice and tidy with the laps and pushing the car as much as we could. For the race I’m feeling optimistic because our long-run performance looked reasonable yesterday and I certainly feel we can be in the battle for points. In order to make things work in our favour and beat our competitors, we need to be flexible with the strategy tomorrow as it’s usually difficult to overtake here.'

Despite bringing out the red flag at the start of qualifying three following a heavy crash at the first corner McLaren's Kevin Magnussen will start tomorrow's race from 10th place just ahead of Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso. Adrian Sutil showed that the Sauber F1 Team have made a step forward as the German will start the race from 12th place just ahead of Sahara Force India's Sergio Perez who suffered a hydraulic leak during the second qualifying session. Perez said after the session:

'It was a difficult session with the main issue being the hydraulic leak that affected my car in Q2. It meant that I was only able to do one run before I had to park in the garage. Without this I think we had the potential to reach Q3, especially because we made a good step with the balance this morning. 

It’s a shame not to maximise our potential here on this track because it’s so difficult to overtake. It means we will have to try and make up the ground tomorrow with the strategy. I’m still feeling positive about the race because our speed on Friday during the long runs looked quite strong.'

Sahara Force India Formula One Team boss Dr Vijay Mallya commented:

'I’m pleased to see Sahara Force India through to Q3 with Nico ending the session in ninth place. Checo might have been up there too had it not been for the hydraulic problem on his car, which ended his challenge in the middle of Q2. 

It’s frustrating but hopefully we can recover the ground he lost through intelligent strategy tomorrow. We should have the pace to take the fight to the cars ahead of us. It’s expected to be hot and tyre management will be a priority once again. There’s also the possibility for more rain showers tomorrow.'

Esteban Gutierrez will start the race from 14th place in the second Sauber. Speaking after the session the Mexican said:

'Overall it was a positive day for us. I think the whole team did a very good job during the weekend. We explored the set-up quite a lot on Friday and we managed to put everything together for today. We need to keep going in this direction, as we found some tenths and we have come closer to the teams in front of us. Adrian did a very good lap at the end. On my last flying lap I got the yellow flags, so I had to interrupt my run and came into the pits immediately. Tomorrow could be interesting due to the weather conditions. It can be a tricky race.'

Sauber team principal Monisha Keltenborn commented on a good day for the the Swiss based team:

'A positive result in qualifying, which is particularly important on this track, where overtaking is difficult. The whole team did a solid job which puts us in a good position for the race, and that might open up the opportunity for points tomorrow.'

The team's Head of Track Engineering Giampaolo Dall'Ara commented:

'P12 and P 14 is a good achievement, although we know that we still have to improve. On this track particularly it's beneficial to have good grid positions, because it can open up some interesting scenarios in terms of strategy. On top of that, there is the unstable weather which can add to this. In general the day was fine. We felt this morning we could match some of our competitors. Everybody in the team did a good job, so we are ready for an interesting race tomorrow.'

Romain Grosjean was left disappointed for the Lotus F1 Team as the Frenchman will start the race from 15th place on the grid just ahead of the Marussia F1 Team's Jules Bianchi who made it into Q2.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was left frustrated as he will start tomorrow's race from 17th place on the grid after the team called his strategy wrong by opting to keep him in the garage at the end of Q1 as they felt that on Medium compound tyre he had done enough to get through to Q2 as both Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton went out of Q1 with problems.

Despite saying that the team should send him out Raikkonen was not listened to. The Finn will start the race just ahead of the Caterham of Kamui Kobayshi who will start 18th while Marussia's Max Chilton will start the race from 19th place. Marcus Ericsson was the last driver to set a time and will start th race from 20th and last place.

Pastor Maldonado's Q1 came to an earlier end with some sort of mechanical issue with his E22 and as a result the Lotus team will have to ask the race stewards for permission to allow the Venezuelan to race. Mercedes will also have to ask permission for Lewis Hamilton to race as he failed to set a time in the opening qualifying session and his team will have an awful lot of work to do to repair his car.

© Ben Johnston 2014

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