Updating with 3 rounds since the previous standings:
- China: HAM, ROS, VET, RAI, MAS, BOT, GRO, NAS, RIC, ERI
- Bahrain: HAM, RAI, ROS, BOT, VET, RIC, GRO, PER, KVY, MAS
- Spain: ROS, HAM, VET, BOT, RAI, MAS, RIC, GRO, SAI, KVY
…here are the standings:
Both Toro Rosso drivers qualified ahead of the senior Red Bull cars.
Grid: ROS, HAM, VET, BOT, SAI, VES, RAI, KVY, MAS, RIC; GRO, MAL, ALO, BUT, NAS; ERI, HUL, PER, STE, MER.
Pirelli predicts “A three-stop strategy is theoretically slightly quicker for the 66-lap race, but doesn’t justify the traffic risks involved. Consequently, a two-stopper is actually more likely: especially for the cars at the front of the grid.” [BBC]
Engines are fired up on the dummy grid
ROS leads everyone away on the formation lap
Looks like everyone is starting on options (medium compound)
Very slow approach to the grid – ROS doesn’t want to wait too long for the tail-enders to get in position
It feels a lot longer than three weeks since the Grand Prix of Bahrain. The first European race of the season means lots of upgrades for the cars, so it’ll be interesting to see whose changes result in the biggest improvement. McLaren have a new colour scheme (“graphite grey with day-glo orange highlights”) as well as a revised front wing and power-unit upgrades.
There are rumours that Alonso has an eye infection which may cause him to miss his home Grand Prix; this year he’s joined by countrymen SAI and MER.
Free Practice 1 (FP1) saw Susie Wolff on track for the first time; she ended FP1 in 14th place. ROS was fastest (1:26.828) ahead of HAM, VET and RAI.
FP2: HAM topped the times (1:26.852) followed by VET, ROS, RAI and KVY.
FP3: GRO lost the engine cover on his Lotus; KVY had a water leak which meant he missed some of FP3; HAM had a spin. ROS is fastest (1:26.021) followed by VET, HAM, BOT, RAI, RIC and MAS.
RIC has now used all four engines (the limit for the season) but this is only race #5; expect lots of penalties for the Red Bull driver over the remaining 15 races.
Air temperature 25°C; track 44°C; just 1% chance of rain
Tyre choices are: prime=hard (orange); option=medium (white)
Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Following an exciting Qualifying session, in which BUT didn’t even set a time in Q1, we now hear poor Jenson Button has had yet another problem with his McLaren. BBC are reporting he’s in the garage and probably won’t make it to the grid. It should have been his 100th Grand Prix.
Grid: HAM, VET, ROS, RAI, BOT, MAS, RIC, HUL, SAI, GRO; PER, NAS, ERI, ALO, VES; MAL, KVY, STE, MER, BUT*
Tyre choices: prime = medium (white); option = medium (yellow)
The top 10 will start on their tyres from Q2; looks like only MAL starting on primes
The rough track surface means a lot of tyre wear, so probably 2 or 3 stops.
McLaren confirm BUT won’t be able to race; “During fire-up, data indicated an issue originating from his earlier electrical problems.”
Sunset is officially 3 minutes after the hour, so the floodlights have been on for a while.
Radio from HAM asking about fuel saving in the first segment; told he needs about 100 metres of lift-and-coast per lap
HAM leads the grid away on the formation lap
After Hamilton’s victory in China, his 10th consecutive race podium, two penalties were handed out: Button had five seconds added to his race time and was docked two penalty points after accepting blame for his late coming-together with Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado; and Marussia’s Roberto Merhi was also docked two penalty points, and received a five-second time penalty, after failing to stay above the required time set by governing body the FIA during the late safety car period. Neither penalty affected the points awarded to HAM, ROS, VET, RAI, MAS, BOT, GRO, NAS, RIC & ERI.
Surprisingly neither Mercedes was in the top 10 quickest cars in Free Practice 1 (FP1) – fastest was RAI (1:37.827), followed by VET, BOT, SAI and RIC. BUT parked his McLaren after an electrical problem.
FP2 followed more a usual form: ROS (1:34.647), HAM, RAI, VET, BOT, RIC, MAL. Despite it being Free Practice, PER tried to dive inside NAS but collided with VET; the stewards determined that neither the Ferrari driver nor Perez was to blame. Additionally HAM and RAI passed a queue of cars on the inside at the exit of the pit lane at the end of the session is still being looked at – with RAI reprimanded “for driving in a manner deemed to be dangerous in the pit lane”.
FP3: MAL lost a piece of bodywork; KVY spun off, causing red flags while they extract his car from the gravel trap; fastest was HAM (1:34.599), VET, ROS, RAI, BOT, MAS, MAL, RIC, HUL, NAS.
Qualifying session 1 (Q1)