Saturday, 29 March 2014

Malaysian Qualifying: Slippery when wet...

Guess what. It rained again in Sepang and Formula One cars can't drive in the rain, which meant we had to sit and watch two Scotsmen attempting to fill time for almost two hours, whilst wearing shirts that were rapidly becoming transparent. Not something I like to wake up to. I have to say, I think it's ludicrous that, with all the modifications and improvements to the regulations, Formula One cars still can't race in the wet. It's just another thing that fans of the sport have to put up with.

Once the cars finally got out on the track, things were a little nervy, to say the least. Mercedes looked colossal in the first session, leading the pack by almost two full seconds for much of Q1 and the first part of Q2. Let's hope that doesn't become a common occurrence, or the more fickle F1 fan amongst us will begin grumbling about 'the sport getting boring' and 'it's always the same team winning', with a combination of frustration and disappointment adorning their face. It looked as though Vettel's woes would continue, as he heard those immortal words coming across the radio, 'box! There's a problem with the car'. A few laps later, in Q2, and he was splitting the two Mercedes cars on the front row and proving that somebody could challenge the Silver Arrow.

The most shocking moment of the qualies was when the partisan BBC commentators claimed that, Fernando Alonso driving in to Kvyat was the Russian's fault. David Coulthard and Ben Edwards stumbled through reasoning like 'the man coming in to the corner is the man at fault' and 'Kvyat locked up and slid in to the side of the Ferrari', none of which was true. It didn't take a genius, whilst watching the onboard camera, to see that Alonso, unceremoniously and without warning, closed the gap that Kvyat was driving in and left him nowhere to go except through the Ferrari's side pod.

Vettel didn't finish qualifying completely unscathed. In Q3, he managed to run out of time and cross the line after the chequered flag, whilst everyone else began their final hot laps. He still qualified second, but will surely have to admit that it was an opportunity lost. The unusual thing about the session was that the result wasn't random at all, despite the rain and despite the unpredictable new cars. Hamilton and Rosberg were fastest, in the Mercedes, whilst the Red Bulls and the Ferraris were up there too. Hopefully rain doesn't postpone the race until Monday afternoon, and that something shakes the order up a bit.

The Grid:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:57.2021:59.0411:59.43122
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:57.6541:59.3991:59.48620
36Nico RosbergMercedes1:57.1831:59.4452:00.05023
414Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:58.8892:01.3562:00.17522
53Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:58.9132:00.1472:00.54120
67Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:59.2572:01.5322:01.21821
727Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:58.8832:00.8392:01.71223
820Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes2:00.3582:02.0942:02.21320
925Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault2:01.6892:02.0962:03.07823
1022Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes2:00.8892:01.8102:04.05322
1126Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault2:01.1752:02.35116
1221Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari2:01.1342:02.36916
1319Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes2:00.0472:02.46016
1411Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes2:00.0762:02.51115
1577Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:59.7092:02.75617
168Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault2:00.2022:02.88517
1713Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault2:02.0748
1899Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari2:02.1317
1917Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari2:02.7028
2010Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault2:03.5958
214Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari2:04.3888
229Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault2:04.4077