Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hungaroring Qually: Vettel bounces back

So, Sebastian Vettel isn't in meltdown. He never was going to be, and he demonstrated this graphically by claiming pole position for tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix, bouncing back from a difficult home race last weekend.

Sebastian Vettel snatched pole position
Credit: Alex Comerford / CC
What's more, this time he really had to pull a rabbit from the hat to get his pole. For the most part it looked like Lewis Hamilton, or possibly Fernando Alonso, had the legs of him and that the Red Bull duopoly on poles this year would finally end. But on his final run Seb edged Lewis's time by the smallest of margins, and looked in as good form as he'd ever been in doing so. He hadn't forgotten how to drive, despite some premature claims to the contrary from people who should know better.

Still, it can't be denied that the Red Bulls have been hauled in, and the McLarens look well placed for tomorrow. They tend to find something relative to the Bulls on race day, and Lewis lurks in second place on the grid, only marginally slower than Seb today. He also managed to save an extra set of option tyres relative to his rivals, running only on primes in the second qualifying session. What's more, Lewis has team mate Jenson riding shotgun in third. The only bum note is struck by the fact that Lewis starts on the dirty side the track - a particular impediment in Hungary (as well as that his car looked a bit tail happy, which is precisely what he doesn't need to make his tyres last a stint).

Lewis Hamilton is strongly placed for tomorrow's race
Credit: Alex Comerford / CC
Alonso faded curiously in the final qualifying, with scrappy final sectors on both runs, not even matching his qually two best. In the end he ended up fifth, pipped by team mate Felipe Massa (breaking Alonso's intra team qualifying monopoly this year), his only consolation being that this puts him on the clean side of the grid. The Ferraris will no doubt be stronger on race day, especially if the temperatures get hotter, though a lot will depend on how quickly they can clear traffic as even with DRS overtaking won't be easy tomorrow. If Alonso can clear cars in the early stages he may also give Seb something to think about tomorrow.

Mark Webber was another that was curiously off it. Just as you began to think he was getting on terms with his team mate and the Pirelli tyres, he qualified down in sixth, a full six tenths shy of his team mate. He again seemed at a loss to explain the difference after the qualifying session.

So, tomorrow Seb will start where he wants to be, but there are plenty of threats behind him. It'll be fascinating to see the extent that he can hang on tomorrow.

Qualifying results

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