Sebastian Vettel has taken everyone’s breath away with a sublime one-lap stint at the end of Qualifying to start tomorrow’s race at the front. His nearest challenger was Lewis Hamilton but he was 0.3 of a second away from what could only be described as a perfect lap of Valencia. This put Vettel alongside the likes of Alain Prost and Jim Clark, and only at 24 this is shaping to be a career to match or even eclipse that of the greats.
In Q1, Red Bull’s Mark Webber struggled with a broken DRS rear wing so lost out on over a second a lap with it’s use. This left him in the clutches of the mid-pack teams but, suprisingly, Heikki Kovalainen also took advantage of it and pipped Webber and Vergne to steal 17th place on his final lap as the Chequered flag came down.
Timo Glock hasn’t taken part in the European GP so far due to being ill and if he is to start the race he will need permission from the stewards. That also meant HRT wouldn’t be starting from their usual back of the grid slot, but they weren’t happy just to take that, they went and beat Charles Pic in his Marussia as well and so they will be starting 22nd and 21st.
Webber will start in 19th ahead of Petrov’s Caterham with both Vergne and Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso’s in front. Q2 was interesting, and close, very close. Big Losers in here were both Ferrari’s and Mercedes driver Schumacher. The Best part about this session was that Alonso finished 0.2 seconds away from Grosjean who finished 1st, Alonso finished 11th.
Both Force India’s looked very strong and pushed hard to get both cars into the top ten with new front wings, apparently to stop marbles building on the tyres but whatever they do, they make the car work well. They got into the top ten, but struggled in the final session, but I’m sure they’ll be happy starting from 10th and 8th.
Nico Rosberg led the way in the final session, until Vettel decided to just pop round for one lap. Rosberg was solid if not spectacular, finishing up in 6th just in front of Kobayashi in the Sauber who out-qualified his team-mate by some margin, Perez finishing up in 15th. Lotus were the story of the day, everyone believing they will have the strongest package as they always perform well in the heat. However that tends to be on race distance and they showed that today as they showed glimpses of brilliance but couldn’t get it all together on one lap, Raikkonen and Grosjean start 5th and 4th respectively.
Williams were very much ala Sauber, just further up the grid. Maldonado showed again that he has the makings of a top driver pushing his car to 3rd showing speed and most of all consistency in his laps, expect him to put together a challenge if he has a good strategy tomorrow. His team-mate Senna finished just in front of Sergio Perez to take 14th but will have a fight on his hands to keep Perez back but also keep up with Massa, Schumacher and Alonso directly in front.
McLaren had a better time of it this week with Jenson Button getting himself into 9th, despite having trouble locking his brakes on the final run in Q3, however he did complain after the race that you can ‘t overtake at Valencia and it will be down to strategies for movement in the pack. Lewis Hamilton continued his run of form, being the nearest person to Vettel and suprising even himself expecting to be further down the grid after struggles all weekend.
It will be an interesting race tomorrow, just to see if people can finally start overtaking at Valencia. Lotus should do well with the car they have and I’ll be very suprised if Romain Grosjean doesn’t make a big push for his first F1 win.
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This article was first posted on June 23, 2012