British GP – Qualifying

Lets try a live (well almost!) blog shall we? Its ok, I’m on my third (or fourth – I might be losing count) coffee of the day. I Can Do This! Yee-hah.
First up (slightly Sky-ed out having watching all of the third practice session earlier this morning) on the Beeb, we had a very deep and meaningful intro by John Hurt. Hmmmm. Pretentious much? Still this is what the Beeb truly excels at. Yes, its OTT in a ‘we take ourselves very seriously’ kind of way but its what we expect as part of our licence fee.
Still, the mind boggles at what kind of Shakespearean build-up we are going to treated to before the Men’s Wimbledon Final tomorrow which a BRITISH PLAYER is playing in for the first time since 1938. Move over Sue Barker and Nice but Tim, we demand that Derek Jacobi and Patrick Stewart front tomorrow’s coverage! Huge congratulations to Andy Murray and here’s hoping he can wipe some of the GOAT (for benefit of the husband…Greatest Of All Time) smugness from Federer’s face. For those who like tennis as well as F1, I can heartily recommend @PseudoFed on Twitter. #humble
Back to Silverstone where we have several British drivers who need cheering on (unless it’s a fight to the finish line between Paul Di Resta and Michael Schumacher!) where it has been raining. Not just a little bit of rain but rain of biblical and apocalyptic proportions.
Lots and lots of love for the fans (ie. the ones who had been told not to bother turning up) who were praised by the Beeb as The Best Fans in the World™. Hadn’t we heard that somewhere before at another track earlier in the season? Still this time it is true. Not many tracks would be packed solid just for the practice sessions especially in the utterly vile and horrendous English (non) summer.

The Awesome Valencia Podium

Quick flick through the highlights of Valencia (blimey, there are lot to show). Yes, lets just savour that truly magnificent race again (which the husband missed!). What a Thing of Beauty.
Next up we were told that Eddie Jordan was going to interview Michael Schumacher (I couldn’t have been the only person slightly nervous at this prospect!). Bit of a false start (are we ready, no we’re not, more filler from Jake) but they managed to convince Schuey to talk to Eddie in the end! In the words of the great man (Michael not Eddie!), the Valencia podium was “a beautiful moment.” You are not kidding, Michael. It might be just me (yeh, ok) but Michael seemed quietly confident and most unbothered by the mention of bad weather at Silverstone. This is because he is the Rainmeister.
We were told that following Maria de Villota’s terrible crash in the week, some of the drivers are wearing stars for Maria on their helmets this weekend. A lovely touch.

Eddie Jordan from back in the day and some up and coming driver
Eddie told us that Silverstone is home of the British Grand Prix for the foreseeable future. Hmmmm watch this space. Anyway, Eddie went on a journey back in time to his old office which is now Force India’s office. How did Jordan end up as Force India? More than a bit confused. Still what does it matter? We saw some pictures of a younger Eddie Jordan (fittingly there was more than a hint of David Brent) and oddly enough Eddie looks much better now. It ended up with Eddie striding through an office telling lots of bemused engineer/designer types he would sack 90% of them. Shall we pause for a moment to reflect on the sad demise of Jordan GP?
Two policewomen appeared in the pitlane who took Eddie Jordan away for questioning for ‘crimes of fashion’ (although with the pressure of Being on Live TV, the poor woman initially said ‘crimes of passion’ – OMG, the latter doesn’t bear thinking about!).
Then we had some Fun Stuff involving Lewis Hamilton who we were told is really driving this season with a smile on his face. Well Jake, sometimes he is and then at other times he morphs into Kevin The Teenager. Still Lewis does seem like a good sport when away from the pressures of a race weekend and dealt with some bizarre questions quite amusingly. He phoned up a primary school and answered some questions. The 5 year old was aghast that his school had been overlooked and said he would have had lots of questions for Lewis. I have no doubt of that.

Ah hazy summer days

So hurtling through the rest of the qualifying build-up as I can see from the TV that Q1 has just started (man, this live blog stuff is super challenging!). There is a queue (and I mean a huge queue) of cars in the pitlane all trying to get out onto the track as apparently the rain is coming.  Cue camera shot to the Rainclouds of Doom. Time to batten down the hatches, Wizard of Oz style and start praying. Yikes it is already raining on the back of the circuit. A lot.
Poor Kimi Raikkonen – he has no KERS and the DRS is disabled. That’s his qualifying scuppered (*waits for Kimi to prove me wrong!) Still he has reacted in the way you would expect from Kimi and is actually racing the drivers out on track including his own team-mate who he nearly punted off the track. Laptimes are being set faster than the fastest blogger in the world (and this is certainly not me!) can keep up with. Schumacher goes fastest (I was alerted to this fact by high pitched shrieking from the 5 year old) and Mercedes’ message from the radio was that the track would be at its fastest in the next few laps.
Button still hasn’t found the space he was told to find and is languishing in 18th place. In the dropzone. In contrast, Kobayashi is now leading the times by 0.6 of a second. Say what?!? It seems like the track is drying out. But then also it is still raining. Basically no one has a scoobie as to what’s happening with the weather. Everyone is on inters apart from some people who are on slicks (possibly Sauber). Clear as mud I know.
Just under two minutes of Q1 and Button comes in for a new set of inters and is told to find an extra 3/10s of a second. Right now would be good. Paul di Resta is not having a good start to qualifying. Slipping and sliding all over the place. That’ll take him down a few pegs or two. Maybe its just me but has he got a little bit cocky since all the Mercedes rumours? Meanwhile Narain visits the gravel. Bless.

Jenson Button – his season has gone a bit Pete Tong
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

It is The Moment of Truth for Jenson Button. Seconds to go and Button is on his flying lap. Can he bump Rosberg into the dropzone and go through to the next part of qualifying? He is up on Rosberg in the second sector by 1.5 seconds. But somehow, inexplicably he STILL ends up being in the dropzone as he passes the start/finish line. Oh Jenson. What is going wrong? Basically he just can’t seem to drive fast anymore. Kind of a pre-requisite for a F1 driver.
So out of Q2 and in the dropzone are: Button, Petrov (Caterham), Kovalainen (Caterham), Glock (Marussia), De La Rosa (HRT), Karthikeyan (HRT) and Pic (Marussia). Yup, just checking, its Button and both Caterhams, Marussias and HRTs. Ouch. Lets hope Ron Dennis has got stuck in some mud or a traffic jam somewhere and isn’t inside Silverstone otherwise things could get messy. Ah there is Jude Law in the Red Bull garage. Our first Random Celebrity at a Race of the weekend.

The queue at the start of Q2
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Start of Q2 and another big log-jam of cars fighting to get out on track. Ferrari have gone for inters. Are they totally insane? It is now really raining hard. In terms of an advert to F1 fans around the world who might be contemplating a vacation in the UK in July, this isn’t really a very good one. And this is why we are decamping to the South of France in August, when of course the heatwave will arrive in the UK.
At the entry to Becketts, Schuey suddenly touches the curb and spins. Heart in mouth time and he just about manages to avoid the grass and continue around the circuit but he is all over the space. The conditions are absolutely horrific. Although DC can’t resist a quick sly dig along the lines of “…and they call Schumacher the Rainmeister”.
And now Alonso spins off and nearly crashes into the wall. Awaits criticism of Fernando Alonso from David Coulthard for failing to stay on the track in torrential rain. Nope, none is forthcoming. This is Utter Carnage. If Schuey and Alonso (9 F1 titles between them) are struggling to cope, I bet Narain is breathing a huge sigh of relief back in the HRT shed garage. Lewis is now on the radio saying he nearly hit a Sauber – I am surprised he could even identify the car. There is literally zero visibility.

Red flags (with less sunshine obviously)

And the session has been RED-FLAGGED. Eddie Jordan is very cross that the teams whose drivers have set good times will be penalised.  Jude, my friend, you should have gone to Monaco!
So time to take stock of the red-flagged grid: Perez, Hamilton, Rosberg, Vergne, Hulk and Kobayashi. Another Huge Hand for the awesome, fantastic fans who are getting absolutely, utterly drenched. And in the commentary box, it is MURRAY WALKER and he has just used the expression “unless I’m very much mistaken” (was that a bet?!). He is absolutely loving the qualifying chaos and would have liked to see them go on. DC doesn’t agree and says there comes a point where the cars are not fit for purpose so the right thing is to red-flag the session. Murray is still as sharp as a tack (at 88 years old!) – just hearing him reminisce about Silverstone is magical.
Turns out Ron Dennis is here at Silverstone. Spotted in Lewis Hamilton’s garage. Poor old Jenson. If I was him I’d hide in the toilet. For a long time. Doesn’t look like qualifying is resuming anytime soon. We are now entering the realms of Eddie Jordan Filler. Gawd help us all. Hang on its ok, Christian Horner is loitering around. They can squeeze in half a dozen interviews with him to kill some time!
Quick update from the Real Charlie Whiting to say that qualifying might resume at 15:00 hours provided conditions continue to improve. Lee McKenzie has managed to find Bernie for a quick (ie. monosyllabic) word. Poor Lee, Bernie is possibly the hardest person in the world to interview. Today is no exception.
Lee: “What do you make of it all Bernie, what’s happening?”
Bernie: “With what?” Ah, he’s a funny one.
Then Jake had the not very life-enhancing idea of telling Lee to follow Bernie to see where he goes to shelter from the rain. Answer: a black and slightly sinister looking motorhome that no one is allowed into except as Eddie told us when you are getting a telling off. Eddie actually used a much ruder word than this. Ah its going to be a long afternoon.
All the mechanics are doing Mexican waves in the pitlane. This is one of the most brilliant things I have even seen in F1. Meanwhile, Martin Whitmarsh cuts a somewhat sad and lonely figure on the pitwall, just sitting alone in the rain. Even Ross Brawn joined in the Mexican wave (he was dragged outside by Nico Rosberg). I love Ross but I think that might be the most fun he has ever had. He’s a bit of a serious chap let’s be fair.

The Kremlin, a less scary place than Bernie’s motorhome

The husband just suggested turning over to Sky. Is he stark raving mad? The BBC have The Legend That Is Murray Walker and Sky will have Simon Thing droning on and on and on. Murray told a brilliant story about how they used to called Bernie’s motorhome The Kremlin (much punchier than ‘black and slightly sinister’!) and when he went in one time, he discovered it was sub-divided into lots of sections and he couldn’t see anyone. He called out “is anyone one there?” and from a distant corner came Bernie’s voice “it depends who wants to know”. Superb.
Not saying its been a long afternoon but the 5 year old has apparently just taken a phone call (on the 1 year old’s pink phone) from none other than Michael Schumacher. It might really be Michael Schumacher (he must be pretty bored now to be fair with all the waiting around) or it could be an elaborate construct of the 5 year old’s very over-active imagination.
And at 15:07, qualifying has resumed! And the times are tumbling All The Time. Q2 finishes up with Lewis, Hulk and Schuey in the top 3. Alonso literally squeaks in at the death to the top ten. Spare a thought for poor Perez. He was in 1st place before the restart of Q2 and ended up 17th by the end of it. Other surprising Q2 casualities are Paul Di Resta, Grosjean (he will start in 10th place after beaching his car in the gravel) and Rosberg.
Ooooh Q3 is going to be a bit tasty. Let battle commence! Four minutes to go until the end of Q3 and the current running order is Alonso, Schuey, Vettel, Hulk, Massa, Maldonaldo and Kimi. The husband appears to be cheering on Maldonaldo. I just asked why and he says because he likes him. Sometimes sport defies logic.
Vettel has a Union Jack over the German colours on his helmet. Nice one, Seb. Lets see what the Daily Fail makes of that! Just over a minute to go and it’s a Ferrari front row (you know the order) followed by the Red Bull cars, then Schuey.
Suddenly Webber goes fastest. Then Alonso goes fastest. Schumacher goes 3rd. Vettel and Webber are still out. Vettel goes 4th and Webber stays 2nd. Unreported by anyone, Kimi goes out and climbs up to 6th place. Lewis ends up in a lowly 8th place.
The grid for tomorrow looks like this: 1. Alonso, 2. Webber, 3. Schuey, 4. Vettel, 5. Massa and 6. Kimi. Sadly with it being the British Grand Prix and all that, the Brits only start in 8thplace (Hamilton), 11th place (Di Resta) and 18th place (Button).
My brain is fried to be honest. It has been long, epic and slightly emotional and that’s just qualifying. The race is yet to come.
But before I close off, I must give the final word to Murray Walker:
“People query whether Fernando Alonso is the best driver in F1. I don’t query it, I think he is and he has proven it once again. This car has come good brilliantly in the hands of Alonso.”

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