2013 Qualifying & Race Reports: Rounds 1-6
|Choose a Race Report Below|
|Round 1: Australia - Melbourne|
|Round 2: Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur|
|Round 3: China - Shanghai|
|Round 4: Bahrain - Sakhir|
|Round 5: Spain - Barcelona|
|Round 6: Monaco - Monte Carlo|
Round 1: Australia - Melbourne
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Super Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 58 lap race and the race start is 0600 local time. Jenson Button in his McLaren was last years winner beating Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
So, we are down under for the first qualifying session of the year in Australia. Winter testing is all complete as Mercedes look like the team that have taken the furthest step forward. Firstly, it rained. A lot. In Q1, many drivers including Hamilton and Massa were caught out by the rain that lay on the track. At this point in time, drivers were on the intermediate tyres (green side wall) and lap times were around 10 seconds off a dry time. We didn't get any shocks in Q1 believe it or not, the only guy that stood out was Maldonado, he was out.
The rain carried on and got worse. The qualifying hour was called off and instead, drivers that were still taking part would now have to wait until the morning to resume qualifying. So, on the morning of the race, instead of drivers having a nice meal or going out for a morning run, they were in their cars ready to resume qualifying. The track was not completely dry. In Q2, most drivers were still on the intermediate tyres and the lap times started to fall. Hamilton set a time of 1:36.625 with his team-mate Rosberg, setting the fastest time in Q2, a 1:36.194.
Q3 now. The track was nearly dry and for the first time we could see the cars real pace. Alonso set a time of 1:28.493 which put him 5th on the grid, on his debut for Mercedes, Hamilton set a very good time of 1:28.087. However, half-way around the track, Vettel was flying and he set a time of 1:27.407 which did put him on Pole for the Australia Grand Prix.
Lights out in Australia!! Webber got a shocking start from 2nd and lost a few places going into the first corner. Massa made a lightning start and Alonso made a decent start also. Into the first corner, we had no incidents. All drivers were very careful. Vettel was away but after a few laps Massa was closing the gap and I know it's early days but it looks like Red Bull (or should we say Vettel) will have to fight even harder this year as the car doesn't look as fast as it has been for the past three years. On lap five, Webber came into the pits.
A few laps later, Vettel pitted which resulted in Massa leading the race. By lap 19, Sutil was leading (he had not pitted yet) with Vettel 1.4 seconds down the road with Massa behind. On lap 32, we saw a good fight between Hamilton and Alonso. Hamilton locked his tyres whilst defending from Alonso, his tyres were shot as a result of this. On lap 27, we saw Rosberg pull off the track, he was out of the Grand Prix. The reason was unknown at this point. On lap 33, Räikkönen was way ahead of everybody as he had a 16 second lead. He had timed his pit stops to perfection. On lap 35, on the radio, Hamilton said he doesn't think he'll be able to finish the race on the current set of tyres he was on, but somehow, set the fastest first sector of the race.
On lap 43, Hamilton pitted for another set of tyres. Hamilton dropped down the field after his stop but did climb back up to 5th place and that is where he finished. An impressive race from Hamilton on his debut for Mercedes. Alonso finished in 2nd place with Kimi Räikkönen winning the first race of the 2013 season, after the race he stated the win was 'easy'. The Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes all look very fast and we could be in for a treat this year with many teams fighting for race wins. Next up, the Malaysia Grand Prix in seven days time.
Round 2: Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur
This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 56 lap race and the race start is 0900 local time. Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus-Renault.
So in one week teams had packed up and travelled 4000 miles and we are here in Kuala Lumpur where weather is always on the drivers minds. In Q1, Red Bull were on the rails as Webber could only manage ninth on the timesheets with his team-mate, Vettel only setting a good enough time to put him in 15th place. However, it was Sutil who managed to put in the fastest time in Q1, a 1:36.809. All of the top drivers were through to Q2.
In Q2, it did start to rain around halfway through the session but by that time all of the top drivers had put a fast enough time in. On the radio, Hamilton said 'it's raining at Turn Five'. Unlike in Q1, the Red Bull's managed to put in secure times which resulted in them being safe for the Top 10 shootout. It was Rosberg, though who set the fastest time in Q2, he set a time of 1:36.190.
Q3 now. There was still rain on the track so teams were on the intermediate tyres. Sutil was the first driver to set a time but Perez was close behind and went two seconds quicker. Hamilton set a time which was good enough for provisional Pole. However, the track kept drying out and drivers could push much harder. Hamilton set a time of 1:51.669 which put him fourth on the grid. The Ferrari's next. Alonso managed third on the grid but who was in front, Massa. He set a time of 1:50.587. And then, we saw Vettel cross the line and he set a time of 1:49.674 which was good enough for Pole Position at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Lights out in Malaysia!! All of the front drivers get away cleanly leading up to the first corner as Alonso tries to go around the outside of Vettel. Alonso taps the back of Vettel and it's Webber that takes advantage and moves up to second place as the track is visibly still wet. We see that Alonso has damage to his front wing, surely he will pit at the end of the lap. He didn't. It was lap 2 and Alonso with his damaged front wing was still out on the track and leading up to the first corner his front wing went under his front wheels and he could do nothing as he carried straight on into the gravel. Alonso was out. Hamilton was now in third place as a result of this with Button and Rosberg behind him.
Vettel pitted on lap 6 and went onto the Medium tyres. The first sector of the track was still wet and this was obvious as Perez, Sutil and Grosjean drifted past him. On lap 8, Hamilton made his first pit stop and what followed was very entertaining for fans but not for Hamilton. As Button did in the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix he drove into the wrong pit box. McLaren were stunned as Hamilton nearly came to a complete stop, the McLaren crew waved him on. Mercedes were looking very strong here as it turned out that it was now a Red Bull vs. Mercedes fight. Towards the end of the race, as it stood, Webber was leading with Vettel behind him and in third and fourth place were Hamilton and Rosberg respectively. Vettel was faster than Webber and after being told on the team radio to hold his position in second place that's exactly what he didn't do.
On lap 46, Vettel and Webber nearly collided as Vettel was inches away from the pit wall. He was on the inside at turn one, and they did touch briefly. Webber was still in the lead but somehow Vettel managed to pass Webber on the outside. While all this was happening Hamilton was told to save fuel and Rosberg was closely following. On the team radio Rosberg said "I'm so much faster, let me go past" in which Ross Brawn replies "Negative Nico, negative. Lewis' pace is what we're asking him to do. He could go a lot faster as well." Vettel managed to stay ahead and won the Malaysian Grand Prix with Webber in second, Hamilton in third and Rosberg in fourth. After the race, it was very interesting to see what the drivers had to say. Vettel has apologized to Webber after ignoring team orders. Next up, China in three weeks time.
Round 3: China - Shanghai
This year, Pirelli brought the Medium (Prime) and Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 56 lap race and the race start is 0800 local time. Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes was last years winner beating Jenson Button in his McLaren.
So, after a two week break, here we are in Shanghai. Again, tyres played a big part this weekend as in practice, a few drivers had their worries about them. In Q1, it was very quiet for 10 minutes and eventually drivers did head out to set their lap times. The driver that stood out was Bottas, he didn't set a time that was quick enough to get into Q2. Q1 was quite boring so I will move on to Q2 where things did start to get a little interesting. We saw Webber off the track and the reason was unknown at that point. There was no visible damage to his car.
Webber did eventually fall down the time sheet and he will start 14th on the grid. The McLaren driver, Perez was struggling and could only set a time of 1:36.314 which just managed to get him into the top 10 shootout. The Mercedes and Ferrari drivers looked good here whereas the Red Bull's looked like they were struggling a little. Q3 then. Again, it was quiet for the first six minutes and suddenly we had most of the drivers come out of the garage to set their laps. All of the drivers came out on the Soft tyres apart from Vettel and Button, they were on the Medium tyre.
Rosberg set a time of 1:34.861 which was only good enough for fourth on the grid, then, Hamilton crossed the line and set a time of 1:34.484 which was a brilliant time. Alonso was third on the grid with Räikkönen in second. Hamilton's time was good enough for his Maiden Pole Position for Mercedes. After qualifying, the FIA stated that Webber didn't have the mandatory one litre of fuel needed in the car and as a result, he was sent to the back of the grid.
Firstly, Webber starts in the pit lane. Lights out in China!! Räikkönen didn't get a great start and was overtaken by both of the Ferrari's. Hamilton still led into the first corner. Around half way round the lap we already heard that teams were getting ready to pit. It was in fact, Webber who pitted, he had completed one lap on the soft tyre and was now on the medium tyre. The race was going to be very interesting as the soft tyres looked like they would only last five to six laps. Vettel was on the medium tyre and he managed to climb up the grid. On lap five, Alonso was very close to Hamilton and he did overtake with the aid of using DRS down the straight and at this point, Alonso led the Chinese Grand Prix.
On lap 16, Webber and Vergne made contact as Webber tried a move down the inside, he hit Vergne, who span, and Webber continued but had a broken front end-plate. On lap 17, Webber was cruising but reports a problem with the car, then on lap 18, the right-rear wheel came off of the car as he slowly approached the hairpin. What a terrible weekend it has been for him. Meanwhile, Button led as he has not yet pitted, with Alonso in second and Hamilton in third place. Alonso pitted on lap 24 as well as Button. On lap 26, Alonso made a great move on the inside of Hülkenberg in the corner before the long straight. So, with 20 laps to go, Alonso leads in front of Hamilton with his former team-mate Button in third. Hamilton pitted on lap 38, but lost track position to Räikkönen.
On lap 41, it was Alonso's turn to pit, it was a good stop and rejoined behind Vettel who had to pit again. Towards the end of the race, Vettel did pit onto the soft tyres on lap 52. When Vettel rejoined he was trailing Hamilton by 11 seconds and it looked like he didn't have enough laps to close the gap on Hamilton. However, he pushed and with one lap to go he was just two seconds behind Hamilton and traffic was ahead, Hamilton drove past without any problems but Vettel ran wide as he had to go off the racing line after overtaking the traffic. Hamilton had done it, just. He had a massive lockup into the last corner but Hamilton did finish in third place with Räikkönen in second place and Fernando Alonso comfortably taking the race win in China.
Round 4: Bahrain - Sakhir
This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 57 lap race and the race start is 1600 local time. Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Kimi Räikkönen in his Lotus-Renault.
Firstly, I should mention that Hamilton has a five-grid penalty as he had a issue in the final practice session that resulted in replacing his gearbox. Webber has a three-grid penalty which was given to him in China and Gutierrez has a five-grid penalty for a collision in China too. So, qualifying. We are in the middle of a desert so it was very hot and it would interesting to see what the tyres would be like. In Q1, one driver did stand out and that was Maldonado, he couldn't set a quick enough time to get into Q2.
In Q2, Perez and Grosjean couldn't see a fast enough time to get into the top 10 and were out. Alonso looked fast here this weekend but he could only manage third on the grid with a time of 1:32.667. Hamilton had to settle for fourth position but his team-mate Rosberg completed a perfect lap that did put him on Pole for the Bahrain Grand Prix. He set a time of 1:32.330 was two and half tenths faster than Vettel who set a time of 1:32.584 which put him second on the grid. After taking the penalties into effect, Hamilton drops down to ninth place, Webber (who was fifth on the grid) drops down to seventh and Gutierrez who was 18th on the grid will start from the back of the grid.
Lights out in Bahrain! Rosberg doesn't get a great start and that allows Vettel to close up on him going into the first corner and while this is happening Alonso tries to go around the outside of Vettel which does pay off and takes second place off of Vettel. However, Vettel wasn't giving up. We saw him overtake Alonso in a place where overtaking doesn't normally happen and Vettel was now in second. Great racing between the pair on the opening lap. Tyre degradation were on Mercedes' minds as Rosberg slowly dropped down the grid due to his tyres.
On lap eight, Alonso was forced to come into the pits as his DRS wing was locked in the open position. Not great for Alonso as many were thinking he could win here today. It looked like it wasn't going to be Alonso's day as on lap nine, yet again, his DRS wing didn't shut when braking, he pitted again. On lap 11, Vettel and Massa both pitted for new tyres, crucially for Vettel he came back out ahead of Button who had not yet pitted. Hamilton had a tough first half of the race but on lap 36 he battled his way through and was now in fifth place. Vettel was now away, it looked like no-one could catch him. Räikkönen, who was in second, was over 28 seconds behind Vettel.
On lap 42, Vettel pitted from the lead and easily came back out in the lead. Hamilton had dropped a few places and on lap 45 he was battling with his old team-mate, Button for sixth position. On lap 57, Hamilton passed Webber for fifth place. Meanwhile, down the road, Vettel took the chequered flag in Bahrain with Räikkönen crossing the line in second place with his team-mate, Grosjean, taking third place. Hamilton finished in fifth place with Webber behind him and after a miserable race, Alonso finished in eighth position with Massa in 15th place.
Round 5: Spain - Barcelona
This year, Pirelli brought the Hard (Prime) and Medium (Option) tyres. It's a 66 lap race and the race start is 1300 local time. Pastor Maldonado in his Williams-Renault was last years winner beating Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.
So, here we are in Europe. The Ferrari's looked strong here. In Q1, there were two drivers that stood out who didn't set a good enough time to get into Q2. They were both of the Williams drivers, Maldonado and Bottas. In Q2, both of the Toro-Rosso drivers were also out. It was a close call for di Resta as he just managed to set a fast enough time to get into Q3 while his team-mate, Sutil was out. McLaren were hoping the new upgrades would help them back on track, Perez could only manage 9th on the grid while Button was way down the grid, he will start in 14th place.
In Q3, it looked like it would be very close at the top as the Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all looked strong on different parts of the circuit. Webber could only set a time of 1:21.570 which put him 8th on the grid. Alonso and Massa could only manage 5th and 6th on the grid respectively. Vettel starts 3rd on the grid while Hamilton managed to put in a time which was good enough for second on the grid while his team-mate Rosberg set a time of 1:20.718 which was good enough for Pole position at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Lights out in Spain!! Alonso gets a great start and passes Räikkönen into the first corner and bravely goes around the outside of Hamilton into Turn Three. Massa also made a great start as he passed Perez down the main straight. Hamilton was struggling here, and he kept on going backwards in the race. On lap 13, Alonso made a very good move around the outside of Rosberg into Turn One. It looked like most teams would go for a four stop here.
By lap 26, Räikkönen was leading the race and he pitted on lap 27 and rejoined in 4th behind Vettel. On lap 30 we heard Hamilton on the radio say 'I can't drive any slower'. He was 60 seconds behind Alonso in the race at this point. Rosberg also dropped down the grid which shows yet more evidence that Mercedes struggle on long race pace. Alonso, on lap 50, who was leading comfortably at this point pitted and still rejoined in the lead. Towards the end of the race, Alonso took it easy and took the chequered flag at the Spanish Grand Prix with Räikkönen in second and Alonso's team-mate, Massa finishing in 3rd place. Mercedes didn't have a great day at all, Hamilton finished in 12th place with Rosberg in 6th place.
Round 6: Monaco - Monte Carlo
This year, Pirelli brought the Soft (Prime) and Super Soft (Option) tyres. It's a 78 lap race and the race start is 1300 local time. Mark Webber in his Red Bull was last years winner beating Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes.
So, here we are in the most exotic place on the calendar, Monaco and to make qualifying even more exciting just before it was due to start, it rained a little. Most drivers, as a result, were on intermediate tyres. So, Q1. Within the first minute we had a car stop on track, it was Bianchi in his Marussia and it looked like he had a engine problem. The Mercedes looked, like they have in every qualifying session so far this year, very quick. In Q1, we had one driver that stood out, it was di Resta, he didn't set a quick enough time to get into Q2. As a result, van der Garde got into Q2 and for Lotus that's brilliant.
The track dried out a little in Q2 and drivers could up the ante a little. Times were all over the place and it was Grosjean that didn't get into Q3. So, Q3. Drivers were now on the Super Soft's and the lap times were dropping all the time. Alonso could only manage a time of 1:14.824 which put him 6th on the grid with Räikkönen ahead in 5th. Vettel managed to put himself 3rd on the grid but it was the two Mercedes drivers that set the pace here. Hamilton set a time of 1:13.967 which put him on the front-row but it was Rosberg who got Pole here in Monaco as he set a time of 1:13.876.
Lights out in Monaco!! Rosberg and Hamilton get away well but Vettel gets a lightning start but can't get past anyone into the first corner and remains in third. On lap 30, Massa has a massive crash at turn one which results in our first Safety Car of the F1 season, meanwhile Vettel drivers straight into the pits. Rosberg follows into the pits on the next lap with Hamilton behind. Rosberg gets out in front the the two Red Bulls while Hamilton comes out behind Webber in fourth position. On lap 41, Hamilton tries to over Webber at Rascasse but Webber squeezes him out, great driving by the both of them.
On lap 46, Maldonado has a massive crash which also involves Chilton. The race was Red Flagged as the safety barriers came onto the track and have created a blockage. Maldonado is OK after the crash. After around 25 minutes the race resumes on lap 47. Rosberg still leads, with Vettel, Webber and Hamilton all behind him. On lap 63, Grosjean crashes with Ricciardo and as he drives straight into the back of him coming out of the tunnel. That was his fourth crash this weekend. On lap 65, Grosjean drives into the pits to retire his car. Meanwhile, at the front, Rosberg has taken the chequered flag at the Monaco Grand Prix with Vettel in 2nd, Webber in 3rd and Hamilton in 4th. Alonso didn't have a great race as he finished 7th. As a result of the crash, Grosjean gets a 10 place grid penalty for the next race in Canada.