United States Grand Prix – Qualifying

Lots has happened since the Russian Grand Prix weekend, when Mercedes sealed the Constructors’ Championship:

  • Bianchi remains critical but stable [FIA]
    “It will be four weeks this coming Sunday since Jules’ accident and he remains in the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. His condition continues to be classified by the medical professionals here as critical but stable.”
  • Caterham and Marussia have both gone into administration and will not take part in the US GP [BBC, BBC]; Bernie Ecclestone says he is to blame [BBC]
  • Williams team principal Sir Frank Williams is in hospital for treatment on a pressure sore on his back. [BBC]

As a result of the reduced grid (just 18 cars instead of 22) it means the Qualifying format has to change. The revised format will mean 4 cars drop out at the end of Q1; another 4 at the end of Q2; and the usual top 10 shootout in Q3. [FIA]

Rumours are that some of the “smaller” teams might boycott the race – an interview with Force India says it’s because they have no say (and sometimes no knowledge) in rule changes etc. [BBC]

VET will have a penalty for taking a new power unit and gearbox; it was rumoured that he might not take part in Qualifying because he’ll end up at the back of the grid anyway [FIA], but Christian Horner confirmed VET will run in Quali.

KVY and BUT both have penalties too – 10 for KVY (engine) and 5 for BUT (gearbox).

It’s a warm, dry day in Texas; air 32°C.

Tyre choices this weekend are: prime = medium (white markings); option = soft (yellow).

My GridBids picks are: ROS, HAM, BUT and PER.

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
HUL is first on track
PER and GUT are both on options already
PER 1:39.804
MAG 1:39.694
ROS 1:38.848
BOT 1:38.811
HAM 1:38.795
ROS 1:38.599
Radio from HAM – flat spot; can’t continue
VET on track, if only to get within the 107% time; goes P9
ROS 1:38.303
5mins left of Q1; bottom 4 are HUL, KVY, VER, RIC* (*no time set)
BUT, MAG and HAM all going out on options
2mins left of Q1; bottom 4 are GUT, BUT, VET, GRO
(BUT P4; VER to P15)
BOT 1:38.249
HAM 1:37.196
Chequered flag; bottom 4 are VER, GUT, VET, GRO
GRO tries too hard, runs wide
VER and GRO improve on their times but not enough to move up
Back of the grid: VER, GUT, VET*, GRO
*VET will start from the pit lane as a result of power unit, gearbox changes
Radio from GRO – not the same car as this morning; engineer says he’s out “by a country mile”!

Qualifying session 2 (Q2)
Green flag to mark the start of the session; 40 seconds before anyone blinks
Radio for HAM reminding him that these might be his race tyres*, i.e. don’t flat spot them
*The top 10 start the race on the tyres with which they set their fastest Q2 time
KVY 1:38.699
BOT 1:38.094
ROS 1:37.099
(HAM P2)
Radio from ROS – lot of understeer
Radio from HAM – vibration; frustrated at lock-ups
5mins left of Q2; bottom 4 are HUL, SUT, MAL, PER
Quite a few lock ups, mostly Turn 1 and T12
Chequered flag; bottom 4 are HUL, KVY, SUT, MAL
ROS 1:36.290
(SUT to P9; RAI to P11)
(RAI to P9; PER to P11)
(MAL to P11)
Middle of the grid: MAL, PER, HUL, KVY*
*KVY has a 10 spot penalty for an engine change

Qualifying session 3 (Q3)
Battling over the top 10 spots are: ROS, HAM, MAS, BOT, RIC, ALO, BUT, MAG, RAI, SUT
RIC 1:38.120
Smoke or brake dust from BOT’s Williams?
BOT 1:36.906
BUT P2
RAI P4
MAS P2
MAG P4
ALO P5
ROS 1:36.282
HAM P2
RAI P9
Radio from ROS – check front wing, hit kerb a bit hard
5mins left of Q3; order is ROS, HAM, BOT, MAS, BUT, MAG, ALO, RIC, RAI, SUT* (*no time set)
SUT still sitting in the garage, waiting for his chance to set a Q3 time
Everyone except SUT on track for their final flying lap
SUT leaves the pits too but he’ll be on his out lap as everyone else is on their quick lap
ROS faster than HAM in Sector 1
Chequered flag
RIC P4
RIA P7
BOT P3
ROS 1:36.067
MAS P4
ALO P6
HAM P2
MAG P7
SUT P10
BUT P7
Front of the grid: ROS, HAM, BOT, MAS, RIC, ALO, BUT*, MAG, RAI, SUT
*BUT has a 5 spot penalty for a gearbox change

Provisional grid: ROS, HAM, BOT, MAS, RIC, ALO, MAG, RAI, SUT, MAL, PER, BUT*, HUL, VER, GUT, GRO, KVY*, VET*
*BUT+5; KVY+10; VET will start from pit lane.

Post-race interview; HAM said ~100°C difference between left and right front brakes, leading to lock ups.