Saturday 29 March 2014

Malaysian qualifying - Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu
By Simon Baggus

Hamilton takes pole in rain hit Malaysian GP qualifying

So monsoons hit the Malaysian GP surface, postponing the running of the start of qualifying.

One hour passed into the session before we got under way, with conditions still tricky and visibility no where to be seen.

The symphony of those v6 pistons grunted into life and 18 minutes were on the clock, we were go go go!

In Q1 as expected we had seen both the Caterham and Marussia teams bow out, not without incident though as there was a big off for Marcus Ericsson, which was totally driver error, getting on the grass, then hitting the barrier and spinning across the track to bring out the red flags, this was his first time driving the car in the wet.

Ericsson got it all wrong

Also out was Sutil surprisingly, who could not get to grips with his car and Maldonado, which was not a surprise, as his ever so good formula one credentials sprung into action, leading him to choose the wrong tyre, creating his own fate. It was a surprise to see Grosjean make it through to Q2 though.

There was also a brief moment where the world thought Sebastian Vettel was out of qualifying, they were to be disappointed as his engineers fixed his car. He had a stormer later on in the session.

Nico rosberg finished Q1 top of the pile and there was to be nothing but a Mercedes on top in every qualifying session today.

Q2 and 15 minutes began, with the rain still pounding the ever so hot and humid Malaysian surface with temperatures still above 35 degrees, teams tried running on intermediate tyres, they soon found out this was a rookie mistake. But not long into the session and another red flag was out.

This time there was contact between Kvyat  and Alonso, Kvyat who locked up, slid into the side of Alonsos car, breaking a wishbone. He got back to the pits with 12 minutes left on the clock and his mechanics worked hard to get him back out.

Hamilton ended the session on top from his team mate Nico Rosberg.

Out in this session was Grosjean, which was to be expected. What was unexpected was the two casualties in the form of the Williams team. As Massa had stated in Australia, they lacked rear down force. In the wet today this was evident. Im sure if the weather is clear they will both finish in the points, surely with that power from the Mercedes unit.

Massa will be hoping for a better weekend

Also out was Kvyat who was pipped to the post by his team mate Vergne, Gutierrez who dominated Sutil so far this weekend and Perez who is under achieving a hell of a lot compared to his team mate Hulkenberg.

Q3 and 12 minutes set the scene in what most people thought was going to be a Mercedes walk through. All was not.

Again teams went out on inters and after one lap found this was a mistake, Magnussun coming straight in to change for full wets, whilst Button was trying a bold move and coming in to change his full wets to inters, it did not pay off as he was slumped into P10 the whole session.

Vergne finished Q3 in P9 with Buttons team mate in P8. Hulkenberg again managed to extract much more from his car than Perez and for his efforts lines up P7 for tomorrows race, which he must be pleased about.

The top six was dominated by three different teams, three different engines and four world champions.

Ferrari ended the session with Raikkonen in P6 and Alonso in P4. Raikkonen having a better weekend than in Australia but still dominated by his formidable team mate, Alonso who lines up on the second row. We all know how good Alonso is off the start, so will be very interesting.

Red Bull have got their package together very quickly and they have been on the pace all weekend. Ricciardo had another good qualifying to end up p5, but never had the legs on his team mate Vettel, who had a storming (no pun intended) qualifying to be 0.055 away from the pole sitter and lines up P2 on the grid.

Mercedes once again took pole in the form of the one lap specialist Lewis Hamilton, who was faultless all weekend apart from a little off in the final part of Q3, although the job had already been done. Hamilton also equals the British record in taking 33 pole positions set by Jim Clarke. Nico Rosberg again lines up in P3 as in Australia, he must be happy to be up their again.

We have a bit of Deja vu on our hands here at the Malaysian GP qualifying, as it is Mercedes on top split by a Red bull to make tomorrows race very very interesting, with tyres, fuel strategies, turbo strategies, maybe even team orders? Multi 21 springs into mind.

Multi 21 controversy, ended in P1 and P2 here last year

The grid order lines up like this then,

1) Hamilton 2) Vettel 3) Rosberg 4) Alonso 5) Ricciardo 6) Raikkonen 7) Hulkenberg 8) Magnussen 9) Vergne 10) Button
11) Kvyat 12) Gutierrez 13) Massa 14) Perez 15) Bottas 16) Grosjean
17) Maldonado 18) Sutil 19) Bianchi 20) Kobayashi 21) Chilton 22) Ericsson

Stay tuned and make sure you are up for what is going to be a thrilling race tomorrow, live on my preferred channel, the BBC at 8.30 am GMT.

Also catch all the latest news at, Addicted to Formula One;

Thank you for reading
Simon Baggus

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