Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying

The two Friday practice sessions were wet; the top times were:

  • Practice 1: HK (1:40.356) followed by KN, AS, GF, SB, LH, FA and KR.
  • Practice 2: AS (1:47.261) followed by SV, VL, LH, KN, SB, FA & JT.
  • Saturday practice: JT (1:31.709) followed by SB, NR, SV, KR, AS, RB, HK.

MW damaged his Red Bull at the end of the final practice session, so badly that he won’t be able to take part in qualifying!

Weather conditions: air temperature 26°C; track temp 40°C; wind 3.6m/s; humidity 44%
Bridgestone have brought the hard (prime) and soft (option) compounds this weekend.

My notes are after the cut, so as not to spoil it for all the people sleeping rather than watching it live 🙂

No commentary on the TSN2 feed 🙁

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
SB is first on track, followed by VL
SB lost the back end under braking – he’s off into the gravel – local yellow flags
Replay shows he was partly on the grass at Degner 2
VL 1:33.585
JA 1:33.124
5mins gone = 15mins left of Q1; everyone (except MW) is on track
(JB P2)
VL 1:32.904
JT 1:31.810
(TG P2)
(JB P2)
(LH P4)
SV 1:31.628 – that’s faster than any of the Practice times
(RB P2)
Yellow flag briefly as HK spins entering Degner
JT 1:31.080
SV 1:30.979
10mins gone = halfway through Q1
SV 1:30.883
(LH P2)
5mins left; most cars are taking on new tyres for a final dash
FA moves up to P5 on the soft tyre
KR on soft tyres too – must be worried about getting through to Q2
2mins left; bottom 5 are RG, VL, GF, SB, MW
SB’s first timed lap puts him P4
Chequered flag falls; bottom 5 are GF, KN, RG, VL, MW
KN can’t improve on P17 in front of his home crowd

Back of the grid will be: P16=GF, 17=KN, 18=RG, 19=VL, 20=MW

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
KR first out of the pits and he’s on the option (soft) tyre
KR 1:31.195
JA has wiped out in the gravel trap – big off – red flags are out = session suspended – he seems OK but he’s still in the car
JA surrounded by medical staff but he gets himself out of the mangled car – grabs a ride in the medical car, presumably for a check up
Clock’s still running – there’s 11mins left of Q2 with only 1 timed lap so far
Marshals use a crane to remove the Toro Rosso
Replay confuses me – looks like he went of at Degner, into the kitty litter but kept his foot down and was still steering as he hit the tyre wall
Session will restart at 1438 local time (0138 EST) so there’ll be 11mins left on the clock
I wonder what happens if the red flags stayed out so long there wasn’t time for anyone else to put in a timed lap – they can’t put just 1 car through to Q3
Green lights; TG & JT are first out of the pit lane – it’s going to be a busy few minutes as everyone wants to get in a “banker” lap
JT 1:30.737
8mins left; everyone bar KR and HK (and JA) on track
Now TG has gone off into the tyre wall!
Red flags again!
TG is still in the Toyota – he seems to be moving OK – long wait for the medical team though 🙁
Medics finally on scene – looks like they’re calling for more assistance
Marshals are busy holding sheets around the car – that’s not a good sign
Official clock has been stopped with 7:49 left of Q2
No replay yet of how/why TG went off on the final corner
Ah, replay – he understeered off and went deep into the tyre wall – hopefully it was only the sheeting that hit him, not the actual tyres
Replay shows he removed the steering wheel and seemed to respond to the marshal immediately after impact
Medical team still attending to TG in the car
Official FIA feed say JA has been given the all clear after medical checks
Meanwhile they’ve been attending to TG for some time
They’ve got him on a stretcher and are moving him to an ambulance – he’s conscious and waves to the crowd
Marshals moving quickly to remove the Toyota
Monocoque seems intact; don’t see any obvious damage around the cockpit
Official word is Glock’s condition is “good” but suggestions online are he’s injured a leg
(TG didn’t take part in Practice because he was sick)
Session will restart at 1458 (0158 EST)
JA is now on the timing wall with his team
Pit lane lights go green with 7:35 on the clock; FA has been waiting at pit exit
7mins left of Q2 and still only 2 drivers have times
FIA feed says VL will get a 5 grid spot penalty for a gearbox change
Wow – BBC commentary has suddenly kicked in – well done TSN2 – better late than never :p
(FA P3) – reminder that fastest is JT (1:30.737)
4mins left; still some drivers are sitting in the pits!
LH 1:30.627
3mins left; half the drivers have yet to set a time
RB + JB finally leave the pits – seems like a mistake to me not to have gone out earlier and put in 2 laps
2mins left; everyone’s on track now
SV 1:30.341
1min left; still no time for NH, AS, JB, RB (and TG, JA of course)
Chequered flag
Yellow flag – debris on track – someone lost part of a front wing in Spoon? SB?
(RB P5)
(JB P4)
SB in the pits – no front wing, so it was his debris that caused the local caution

Middle of the grid: P11=NH, 12=FA, 13=RK, 14=TG, 15=JA
Will RB + JB be penalised? Technically they set their fastest sector times when there was a yellow flag, but it was also their only sector times

FIA report TG being taken to hospital by helicopter; believed to be a “minor wound” to his left leg

Qualifying session 3 (Q3) starts shortly…
AS first on track
HK gets it wrong in Degner – sideways through the gravel and into the tyre wall
Red flags again!
Pit-car from HK telling them he’s gone off; quite sheepish & apologetic; confirms he’s fine
HK’s McLaren is lifted away by a crane
Pit-car from LH checking his teammate’s OK
Q3 will restart at 1522 (0222)
KR waiting at pit lane exit
Lights turn green – less than 6 mins left of Q3 and no timed laps so far
KR on the hard tyre – has he used up all his soft ones?
KR 1:33.010
HK walks back into the McLaren garage
3mins left
1min left and still only the 1 timed lap
(AS P2)
(LH P2)
SV 1:32.160
(JT P2)
Chequered flag falls – it’s all going to rely on this final lap
(NH P3)
(LH P3)
(JB P7)
(RB P5)

Well, the front of the grid is: P1=SV, 2=JT, 3=LH, 4=AS, 5=RB, 6=NH, 7=JB, 8=KR, 9=HK, 10=SB

As always I’ll mark this as the provisional grid but this time I’m certain there’ll be some changes before tomorrow’s race!
Provisional grid:SV, JT, LH, AS, RB, NH, JB, KR, HK, SB, NR, FA, RK, TG, JA, GF, KN, RG, VL, MW.

4 thoughts on “Japanese Grand Prix – Qualifying

  1. Updates to the grid, as anticipated:
    * Sutil, Barrichello, Button, and Alonso have been given 5-place grid drops for speeding through yellow flags.
    * Buemi was given a 5-place drop for continuing on to the pitlane with a damaged car and impeding other drivers.
    * Kovalainen and Liuzzi were given 5-place grid drops for gearbox changed.
    * Glock (assuming he’s fit to start) and Webber will start from pitlane after chassis changes.

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