Vettel on pole, Williams having problems, Force India not really trying in Q3… nothing new then. But it was an incredibly exciting qualifying session. Heikki Kovalainen had a chance at Q2 with Rubens Barrichello’s car problems not allowing him to run, but was unable to get ahead of Schumacher. Daniel Ricciardo beat his teammate again, showing good form in the HRT.
In Q2, a red flag halted a fast lap from Vettel. It had been caused by an unnamed driver taking out one of the bollards, which was left dangerously in the middle of the track. Hamilton went fastest, setting a 1:38.4. Pastor Maldonado finished 17th, which will demote him to 23rd tomrrow after his grid penalty. Two Williams on the back of the grid is very much symbolic of the team’s terrible 2011 season. Neither Sauber, Renault or Toro Rosso made it through to the final session, leaving five teams to challenge for top spot.
But realistically it came down to the McLarens and Vettel. After the first set of hot laps, it was close, and then they went out again. Button was first, Hamilton second, and Vettel a good way behind them all in clear space. First, Button took P1, then Hamilton. Hope filled McLaren despite Hamilton’s lap not being as good as his Q2 time. But then, Vettel did it again. He went a few hundredths slower than the Brit’s Q2 time, but it didn’t matter. He was still on pole.
Simon Trummer and Fabio Onidi have both been penalised following today’s race. Simon Trummer receives a 10-place grid penalty for tomorrow after a collision with Jake Rosenzweig that took both of them out; Fabio Onidi was discovered to have been ignoring yellow flags and has twenty seconds added to his race time in place of a drive-through penalty.