The 2012 Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying session lived upto expectations as we saw close laptimes due to a shorter lap with a quicker laptime. In the Formula1 Podcast recorded pre-Canada (Hear: Montreal, Kubica, Pitstop Poker and Schumacher), RJ Rishi Kapoor and I had predicted a Mercedes on pole and preferably a Michael Schumacher, but of course that wasn’t the case to be.
Read my observations from the qualifying session:
- Sebastian Vettel clinched the 32nd pole position of his Formula1 career. His pole lap was 3 tenths quicker than Hamilton, who qualified in P2. Considering the close times that we saw otherwise in the qualifying hour, 3 tenths does seem like a huge margin! This was his second successive pole in Canada.
- Also, Vettel was the only driver to get into the 1:13 mark during the qualifying session despite the pre-race FIA decisions to ask Red Bull Racing close the ‘holes’ on their floor and the brake ducts. Webber managed P4 and was 6 tenths slower.
- Button, who missed much of Friday practice, managed P10 and is on an alternate tyre strategy as opposed to Hamilton. He will start the race on the soft tyre compound. He pipped Kobayashi by 0.008 of a second to enter into Q3.
- Alonso was 4 tenths down in P3 and that makes it three different teams in the top three starting positions. Massa, who drove with much-improved pace, was P6 and three tenths down on Alonso. This is Ferrari’s best qualifying performance for the season.
- Mercedes were the most disappointing team in this session with Rosberg managing a lowly P6 (7 tenths down) and Schumacher having to abort his final qualifying run after an error in team communication. Schumacher, who was on a quick lap, was informed by the team that the session was over, when it actually wasn’t! Could this have been yet another Schumacher pole? I was hoping so! He will start the race from P9.
- Grosjean drove a valiant lap to bring his Lotus to P7, half a tenth ahead of Sahara Force India’s Paul di Resta.
- The biggest elimination in this session was Kimi Raikkonen. If you wish to know how close the laptimes were, here’s a comparison. Raikkonen’s Q2 lap was a tenth slower than Grosjean’s. Result: Raikkonen, P12, Grosjean, P7!
- The entire field of 17 drivers was separated by only a second, with positions P6 to P12 separated by only a tenth!
- Maldonado, the winner of the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, clipped the ‘Wall of Champions’ in his final attempt and damaged his rear suspension. He was on a quick lap that could’ve given him a spot in Q3, however, he now starts the race in P17, a spot lower than team-mate Senna.
- Maldonado has shown great talent in the 2012 Formula1 season, but his driving errors too won’t go unnoticed!
- Surprisingly, Perez was half a second slower than Kobayashi. He starts the race from a disappointing P15.
- BIG news of this session was both Caterham drivers, Kovalainen and Petrov, qualifying ahead of the Toro Rosso of Vergne in P20. Wonder what the Red Bull Racing bosses think of that! Vergne’s been the ‘fall-guy’ of Q1, for four out of seven races this season. A possible, a mid-season call for Buemi / Alguersuari?
- The Caterham drivers were in a battle of their own with Kovalainen claiming honours in the dying minutes of the session. He starts P18, Petrov, P19.
- The other big news was Pedro de la Rosa qualifying his HRT ahead of the two Marussia cars of Glock and Pic. The Spaniard’s qualifying lap was half a second ahead of Glock and nine tenths ahead of team-mate Karthikeyan.
- P1 to P17 were split by 0.9 of a second in this session!
- Also, both HRTs were 3rd and 4th fastest in the speed trap during the session. HRT’s new rear wing doing the trick? Ironically, the slowest were the Red Bull Racing cars!
Interestingly in Canada, tyre choice is pretty open with the difference between both sets of tyres limited to four or five tenths. Tyre strategy will also be aided the fact that there are opportunities for overtaking on-track. While Hamilton indicated that a one stopper strategy was possible, the shorter pitlane and pit-time could mean that we could see a few drivers opt for a two / three stopper.
Red Bull Racing have shown stronger race pace this season, whereas the Mclaren’s have struggled with pace and their pit-stop work. Alonso can never be ruled out and I would expect him to challenge Vettel for the lead early on. Remember, Red Bull have never won in Canada before and Vettel has a score to settle after surrendering the lead last year to a last lap error!