Busy with travel and hence this report is shorter than usual.
The Italian Grand Prix qualifying was probably the fastest qualifying session of the year and hence also the closest. The time difference between the field was lesser than the average and it was more to do with the circuit layout and car setups than performance improvement of the teams.
My observations from the 2011 Italian Grand Prix qualifying:
– Jarno Trulli outqualify his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen for the second time this season. The Italian who was rumoured to be in his last season in the sport drove a stunning lap to go half a second quicker.
– The Pirelli tyres need a couple of laps around the circuit to generate heat in them and this should make racing and tyre strategy interesting in the race.
– Mark Webber is the only driver amongst the top ones to have not used a new engine for this weekend. He ultimately managed to qualify 5th.
– The most interesting fight in Q1 was for the 18th spot, which ultimately went to Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. The drivers who almost got eliminated included Kobayashi, Senna, Buemi and Barrichello.
– Team Lotus Racing were 7 tenths off Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso, indicating that the Malaysian team is making an improvement. Would KERS have helped them go quicker?
– HRT’s Daniel Ricciardo outqualified his experienced team-mate Tonio Liuzzi for the first time this season.
– The entire field was separated by 4.2 seconds in Q1.
– Mercedes GP cars were the fastest in sector 1, whereas Red Bull Racing were the fastest across sectors 2 & 3.
– I expected the Saubers to do better in Monza considering their straight line advantage. However, they struggled and ended up 15th (Perez) and 17th (Kobayashi).
– The entire field was separated by only 2.2 seconds.
– The most interesting battle of Q2 was between the Force India drivers and Lotus Racing’s Bruno Senna. The three drivers were battling for 10th spot, which Paul di Resta lost to Senna for a mere 6 thousands of a second. The FIF1 drivers will start the race from 11th and 12th position, which allows them to run a different tyre strategy.
– Vettel maintained Red Bull’s 100% pole position record and clinched his 10th pole of the season. Vettel’s pole advantage was half a second which is surely a surprise for everyone in the Paddock since Monza was expected to be one of Red Bull’s weaker races.
– I expected a three way fight between RBR, Mclaren and Ferrari, but Ferrari could only manage 4th (Alonso) and 6th (Massa).
– Webber looked off colour in qualifying and a wrong strategy saw him only have one attempt to set a competitive laptime in Q3.
– Senna didn’t set a laptime in Q3 and will start the race from 10th. While this helps him save an extra set of tyres, I think this particular qualifying rule needs tweaking. (Read post: A Tweak In Qualifying Rule Expected In 2011)
– Nico Rosberg’s tyre strategy in qualifying is worth mentioning. Rosberg only used the hard compound in Q3 as he managed to qualify 9th. He will have two sets of fresh soft tyres for the race. His tyre choice will also impact the choices of the drivers behind him. Will be interesting to see how his race pans out.
While Vettel is on pole position, I expect the double DRS zones to impact race leader positions as many as twice a lap. Hence, I am not betting on a Vettel victory yet. Who is my money on? Jenson Button!