2012 Formula 1 British Grand Prix, July 7, 2012 Qualifying

7 Jul

The qualifying session at Silverstone was perhaps the best of 2012. The lap times tumbled under ever changing track conditions, a 90 minute red flag period during Q2 with Alonso lying 14 seconds behind P1 time, yellow flag period, cars slipping and sliding, this qualifying session had it all. And that’s not all, Kobayashi & Vergne drop 5 & 10 grid spots respectively for causing collisions at previous round. Hulkenberg drops 5 for gearbox change.

Q1 started on time under wet conditions.  All the cars started on intermediate tyres and the entire pit lane was queued up well before the green light in a bid to gain track position to set a clean lap. Kimi had a problem with KERS which was not what he had hoped for this weekend. DRS was also disabled by race control in view of the dangerous weather conditions.  With rain predicted during qualifying, everyone wanted to set a banker lap in as early as possible. At one stage, the Lotus cars were close to taking each other out for track position. Button continuously faced issues in getting a clean lap in under such conditions which was spoilt further by Glock spinning on the finish line just when Button was on his flying lap. Button had to slow down for yellow flags, which meant that his qualifying was done. Rest of the drivers relegated in Q1 were the usual suspects at the back of the field. Charles Pic failed to set a time within 107% mark, so he will race on steward’s discretion.

Q2 stated in full wets and conditions worsened with every passing lap. Alonso and Schumacher barely managed to escape accidents.  Several drivers started complaining about the track conditions and the race control obliged by red flagging the session. Perez was in P1, Vettel in P10, Schumacher in P14, Massa P15 and Alonso P16. Perez was sitting pretty at P1. The clock showed 6:19 mins and even with improved track conditions, it would be tough set a quick lap as all 17 cars would be fighting for track position. Its in situations like these, the best drivers rose to the occasion. When the session restarted, Vettel, Massa, Schumacher and Alonso, all made it to Q3 and Perez ended at P17. Grosjean, who was running well in P5 had a spin towards the end of Q2 that brought out the yellow flags. Alonso managed to slow his car sufficiently and still ended with P9. This meant that di Resta was relegated to P11 as he also had to slow down for the yellow flag while on his flying lap.

Q3 started with most drivers choosing intermediates as the track conditions were expected to improve. Hamilton made a last minute from full wet to intermediate tyres. Schumacher did 2 flying laps on full wets and was setting comparable lap times to others but the improving track condition was no hidden fact. He pitted to take intermediates but he would get only 1 flying lap. Hamilton had a particularly poor session and ended with only P8. Alonso and Massa kept trading fasted times for the first 5 minutes until Webber joined the fun with Alonso. In the end, Alonso took pole by just .047 second. Schumacher on his sole flying lap on inters was less than 3/10s away. Vettel was P4 and Massa P5. The seesion was particularly good for Ferrari and Red Bull.

But the real test is on Sunday when the points are given. Alonso has the advantage of a clear track but due to changeable track conditions, no one can be ruled out. This has all the makings for a super Sunday in bright English summer which looks more like “Dark Knight”.

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