Grand Prix of Qatar – Qualifying


The third race of the triple-header is (controversially) in Qatar – a brand new circuit for F1 but it has hosted many bike races. Mexico and Brazil were exciting, especially HAM’s fightback last weekend, but the Qatar circuit looks less likely to be a “classic” … unless the stewards start handing out penalties (or ignoring blatant infractions) again.

News:

  • Mercedes “requested a Right of Review” of the VER/HAM incident because VER’s onboard footage was finally available. [video]
    Dissappointingly the stewards denied the request, saying “The stewards often must make a decision quickly and on a limited set of information.” [FIA]
  • Alfa Romeo announced Guanyu Zhou will replace GIO next season. He’s having a good F2 season, so hopefully his transition to F1 will be ok

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: VER (1:23.723), GAS, BOT, HAM, TSU
    The track is flat and dusty
    Stewards are watching five turns, so expect lots of deleted lap times
    STR had a brake-by-wire issue
    NOR ran over a big kerb and damaged the plank
    SCH locked up, ran through the gravel and returned to the track
  2. FP2: BOT (1:23.148), GAS, VER, HAM, NOR
    MAZ had to sit out FP2 due to damage to his Haas’ chassis
    Yet again Red Bull make changes to the rear wing on both cars, but the stewards seem uninterested
    VET complained HAM didn’t get out of his way
    LEC ran wide, kicking up dust from the kitty litter
  3. FP3: BOT (1:22.310), HAM, VER, GAS, PER
    Red Bull mechanics form a human barricade to stop cameras from seeing whatever changes they’re making to VER’s car – nothing suspicious there!
    LEC spun, dipping his Ferrari’s rear wheels into a gravel trap
    SCH lost the rear of his Haas, spinning it around in Turn 2
    MAZ lost power coming out of the pit lane and had to be pushed all the way back to his garage; that meant he sat out FP2 and FP3

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 26°C; track 29°C
SCH 1:24… but his time’s deleted
LAT 1:24.611
RAI 1:23.717
VET 1:23.368
SAI 1:23.323
PER 1:23.224
NOR 1:22.839
HAM 1:22.019
(VER P2)
BOT 1:22.016
LEC and NOR both have lap times deleted for exceeding track limits
Radio from OCO reporting that the whole car is shaking when he brakes
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are LAT, RAI, GIO, SCH, MAZ
VER 1:21.996
Radio from HAM complaining about the traffic – there’s a lot of slow-moving cars,
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are GIO, LEC, STR, SCH, MAZ
LEC P10, LAT P16
STR P9, RAI P16
HAM 1:21.901
Back of the grid: RAI, LAT, GIO, SCH, MAZ

Qualifying session 2
Looks like most of the top 10 contenders are heading out of the pits on medium tyres; GAS, TSU, RUS on softs
RUS 1:22.925
NOR 1:22.635
SAI 1:22.241
HAM 1:21.682
(BOT P2)
(VER P2)
(GAS P2)
Radio from LEC telling his team he doesn’t know how he can find more time – he’s currently P15
5mins left; bottom 5: NOR, PER, RUS, RIC, LEC
RUS pushing hard, kicking up lots of dust, but can’t improve on P13
HAM, GAS and VER head out on new soft tyres, just in case
RUS returns to the pits with only 2mins left
NOR P8, STR P11
LEC P11
Chequered flag; bottom 5: LEC, STR, PER, RUS, RIC
STR P11
RIC P13
PER P11 on softs – that’s terrible for Red Bull
Middle of the grid: PER, STR, LEC, RIC, RUS

Qualifying session 2
HAM 1:21.262
OCO P2
VET P3
BOT P2
NOR P3
TSU P4
VER P2
GAS P4
ALO P5
Order after first run: HAM, VER, BOT, GAS, ALO, SAI, NOR, TSU, OCO, VET
HAM first to leave the pits for a final run
Yellow flag – GAS has a puncture
HAM 1:20.827
OCO P8
Yellow flag removed but it ruined many laps
Front of the grid: HAM, VER, BOT, GAS, ALO, NOR, SAI, TSU, OCO, VET
Replay shows GAS ran over a kerb, broke his front wing and that shredded his front-right tyre

Interviews:
HAM: “Yesterday was difficult for me as I wasn’t feeling too well on Thursday and Friday, and I struggled through practice.” “Being that it is such a fast circuit I don’t think it’s the easiest of circuits to follow, but it is not massively degrading on the tyre – it is a decent run into Turn 1, which is wide so I will give it everything.”
VER: “I think we’re lacking a bit of pace, I think it’s more trickier for us again, (PER) is not even in Q3 so it shows we’re struggling a bit more than usual.”
BOT: “I really had to push a lot in qualifying – I struggled quite a bit going into Turn 1 but I tried my best but I’m a bit confused as to what happened to the car overnight.”
NOR: “We struggled a lot in FP3 this morning so we had our longest ever debrief – so I might start to have two hours debriefs from now on.”
RIC joking about protesting someone so he can move up the grid

Provisional grid: HAM, VER, BOT, GAS, ALO, NOR, SAI, TSU, OCO, VET, PER, STR, LEC, RIC, RUS, RAI, LAT, GIO, SCH, MAZ

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]