Saturday, 4 October 2014

Japanese Qualifying: Clipped wings for Red Bull Racing

The big news this weekend is the revelation that Sebastian Vettel will be leaving Red Bull Racing at the end of the season. It appears that he has struck up a deal with Ferrari, which many would consider a step down from the World Championship winning team, at which he has achieved so much. However, all of the factors of Seb's decision need to be considered. We already know that Adrian Newey is leaving the energy drink owned team and with him goes his F1 designing prowess, and quite possibly the winning ability, that the team have enjoyed for the last few years. Another important factor to consider, when analysing Vettel's move to Ferrari, is that they are a team who never quite topple from the highest echelons of the sport. They are struggling right now, but the acquisition of Vettel could be a turning point for them.

As if as a response to the breakage news, the Red Bulls really struggled for pace. They only just made it in to the final top ten shootout, with Vettel only just making the cut above both of the Toro Rosso cars and the Force India of Sergio Perez. One thing was clear and that was that Riccardo out qualified his departing teammate, with Seb qualifying in an abysmal ninth. In contrast, Ferrari and McLaren both looked a lot stronger than they have done, so far, this season.

At the top the tension is running high. With only three points separating Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, in the World Championship, it was surprising to see Rosberg have a clean final run. He was lying in pole position and so had the opportunity to create an incident to scupper his teammate, but he chose to take pole, fair and square. We shall see if their relationship stays as friendly when the race gets underway. People seem to wrongly believe that things between the two Mercedes drivers will settle down rather than heat up, with only a few races remaining.

With a Typhoon predicted for tomorrow's race, absolutely anything could happen. When you consider the fact that Formula One cars don't like to drive in a light April shower, the BBC F1 and Sky Sports punditry teams are likely to find themselves with a lot of time to fill.

The Grid:
16Nico RosbergMercedes1:33.6711:32.9501:32.50613
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:33.6111:32.9821:32.70313
377Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:34.3011:33.4431:33.12816
419Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:34.4831:33.5511:33.52716
514Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:34.4971:33.6751:33.74016
63Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:35.5931:34.4661:34.07517
720Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:34.9301:34.2291:34.24216
822Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:35.1501:34.6481:34.31717
91Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:35.5171:34.7841:34.43217
107Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:34.9841:34.7711:34.54816
1125Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:35.1551:34.98414
1211Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:35.4391:35.08913
1326Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:35.2101:35.09213
1427Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:35.0001:35.09913
1599Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:35.7361:35.36414
1621Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:35.3081:35.68114
1713Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1:35.9179
188Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:35.98410
199Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1:36.8136
2017Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1:36.9438
2110Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1:37.0159
224Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1:37.4818