Sunday, April 26, 2009

Qualifying analysis - Bahrain Grand Prix

Tyre preservation will again be the name of the game here, but Sakhir is a very different type of circuit to Melbourne and China, where degradation on the super-soft rubber militated in favour of the mediums. They take longer to hit their optimum temperature and have less grip, so everyone will try to go as far as they can on super softs and keep the prime running to a minimum.
But some are more adept at eking out tyre life than others.
On fuel weights, the relevant ones were
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli: 648.5;
Toyota’s Timo Glock 643;
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel 659;
Brawn’s Jenson Button 652.5;
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton 652.5;
Brawn’s Barrichello 649. Which makes Vettel the dangerman…

Jarno Trulli, 1m 33.431s, P1
Timo Glock, 1m 33.712s, P2

Toyota were delighted to lock out the front row of a grid for the first time since they entered Formula One in 2002. Trulli reported that things didn’t go as smoothly as planned because of a brake problem that still needs to be rectified before the race. He dedicated his first pole since Indianapolis 2005 to the team for their hard work, and to the people of Abruzzo after the recent earthquake. Glock lost time with an electrical problem in free practice, but was happy with the set-up changes made overnight. A change of wind direction forced him to struggle on the prime tyres in Q1, but he felt more comfortable in Q2. He admitted to a small error in Q3, but said it wasn’t enough to have affected his chances of taking pole from his team mate.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 34.015s, P3
Mark Webber, 1m 34.038s, P19, will start P18

Vettel was fastest in Q1 and Q2, and said he was very happy with the way things went in Q3. He also harvested a set of option tyres in readiness for the race. Webber was very unhappy after his final runs in Q1 were thwarted by Sutil. The Red Bull was trapped behind the Force India at the end of its first lap, and then Sutil repassed into the first corner to spoiled Webber’s second try. The German was penalised three grid places as a result.

Brawn GP
Jenson Button, 1m 34.044s, P4
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 34.239s, P6

Button and Barrichello complained of lack of grip in Q3, when usually the Brawn is at its best with a fuel load, and were disappointed not to take a pole that they had expected to contend for. Button said he had wheel locking, Barrichello traffic.

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 34.196s, P5
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 33.242s, P11

Hamilton was very happy with fifth place, especially as he is the fastest KERS runner and will have an advantage on acceleration on Sunday afternoon. He even talked of being in a position to challenge for pole position soon. Kovalainen could not explain his relative lack of performance.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 34.578s, P7
Nelson Piquet, 1m 33.941s, P15

Alonso complained that the closeness of qualifying is stressful in the cockpit but was pleased to have a competitive car after overnight work on his latest diffuser. This time, he said, seventh was about what he had expected. Piquet made it through to Q2 but pushed too hard for Q3 and overdrove.

Felipe Massa, 1m 34.818s, P8
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 35.380s, P10

Ferrari looked very strong in Q1 and Q2 but faded when it mattered. Massa reported a small step forward and was happy to be in the top 10, especially as his F60 was oversteering more than it had in the morning. He is looking forward to maximising his KERS at the start. Raikkonen said it would have been difficult to better his eventual 10th place as he’d run out of fresh super-soft tyres. He also reported that his car behaved better with KERS.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 35.134s, P9
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 33.348s, P12

Rosberg was not comfortable in his FW31 and felt he was lucky to make it through to Q3. But he was happy with ninth as he was running a heavy fuel load. Nakajima said he made no errors, and was mystified why he wasn’t quicker.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 33.487s, P13
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 33.562s, P14

Kubica admitted that BMW Sauber simply lacked performance, and that a radio malfunction made it difficult to fine-tune tyre pressures. The Pole also had two small flash fires in the pits while refuelling, which didn’t help. Heidfeld found his F1.09’s balance inconsistent between runs as the wind changed. Both drivers used KERS.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 33.722s, P16, will start P19
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 33.910s, P18, will start P17

Sutil reported a drop in grip levels compared to free practice and that the balance of his VJM02 was thus not as good for qualifying. He said the problem with Webber arose because he was trying to make a gap to Alonso to start his own lap, and that he didn’t realise Webber was on a flying lap. The stewards docked him three grid positions.Fisichella felt he’d got close to Q2 but said he wasn’t entirely happy with his car’s balance and that the super-soft tyres made the handling unpredictable.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 33.753s, P17, will start P16
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 34.159s, P20

Buemi thought he could easily have made Q2 but for a mistake in the third sector on his best lap in Q1. Bourdais lost track time with undisclosed technical problems in the morning, then picked up a lot of understeer on his second run in Q1. He corrected that with the front wing for the final effort, only to encounter serious oversteer.


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