Indian GP – Qualifying

Previously on F1, this man dominated from start to finish and starts on pole tomorrow. You do the maths.

Stone the crows…I’m actually going to blog qualifying. For the first time since Singapore. Back to a golden age when a car other than a Red Bull was on the front row of the grid. Truly a happier time. So will it be 60 minutes of cars setting fast laps, at the end of which Sebastian Vettel will get pole? Let us see.

He actually looks scarier when he smiles.

All hail the Indian GP for putting on qualifying at a great time for the House of Power. The 5 year old refused to go to football due to the arctic weather outside (its safe to say he’s no Roy Keane in the making) and is ridiculously excited that the F1 roadshow has now rocked up in his beloved India. I asked him yesterday why he likes India so much and he said “because it has hot deserts and pyramids”. Go figure.
I’m boycotting the Beeb this weekend due to the fact that their chief F1 writer believes that apparently Michael Schumacher is only the 4th best driver of all time. Biased much? I await with interest the eulogies on the top three (Fangio, Senna and Clark – all of whom I think were utterly brilliant drivers for the record) and the convenient lack of mention of the fact that they won all or most of their titles in The Best Car of its Day just like the villainous Michael Schumacher.

Downtown Delhi – a riot of noise and colour and insanity.

Watching the opening moments of the Sky coverage which showed the team risking life and limb trying to navigate their way through downtown Delhi in tiny little cars, I realised that driving in Delhi looks a lot like Mario Kart. Crazy does not cover the half of it. Maybe this could account for the 5 year old’s fascination with the place! I read an article on driving in Delhi the other day and came across this brilliant quote:
“Real men don’t feel pain. They don’t cry. They also don’t use an indicator. We in Delhi – we are all khaalis mard. All Man.”

So Bernie, how about a Grand Prix in Cuba?


First up, an interview with Bernie (poor Martin Brundle, two near-death experiences in one day) about the endless, protracted negotiations on the Concorde Agreement. According to Bernie it is all the fault of the lawyers. In the good old days, according to Bernie, you used to just scribble things down on the back of an envelope – damn those pesky lawyers hey for wanting things done properly. More worryingly, Bernie seems to think we might lose 2 or 3 races in Europe in order to ‘move on’. Brundle to his credit looked utterly aghast and pointed out that this would mean we would only have 4 races left in Europe. OH GOOD. Because we all want more races like the coma-inducing Singapore, Korea and Bahrain ones.

Welcome to Narain’s home grand prix!
Its Time For Narain to give us a guide to the circuit! Its actually quite a fun looking circuit with a mini Eau Rouge hill up to a very long straight. The main issue last year was lots of dust. Oh and also Narain said he got a bit dazzled by all the orange stripes bordering the track. Bless. Johnny Herbert said Narain’s main problem was his team-mate being faster than him. Fair point when all’s said and done.
Time to get on with the important business of qualifying and with two minutes to go of Q1, the top three were Vettel, Hamilton and Webber. Hovering just above the Dropzone of Doom was Paul Di Resta, Schuey and Kobayashi. Vergne was languishing in 18th spot while his team-mate, Ricciardo, shot up to 12th place. Kovalainen spun off and parked his car on some gravel. Its fair to say his career has been downhill (black-run style) since his one, failed shot at stardom at Team McLaren.  Dumped out of Q1 were the usual suspects: HRT x2, Marussia x2, Caterham x2 and Jean-Eric Vergne but, importantly, Narain Karthikeyan was NOT last. Anyhoo, the fastest drivers on the track in Q1 were Maldonaldo, Vettel and Rosberg. Hope springs eternal.
With 3 minutes to go of Q2, Vettel and Webber were the fastest Adrian Newey designed cars drivers on track. Bored already. Massa was stuck in 17th (wonder if Luca regrets offering that new contract yet?) and the Bad Boys of F1, Grosjean and Maldonaldo, were 15th and 16th respectively. Massa found a scrap of pace and shunted Schuey into the dropzone and all eyes were on Kimi who had yet to make it into the top ten but with a final push squeaked into 8thplace. Maldonaldo from 17th did a blistering lap to zoom up into 7thplace. Schumacher could not improve on his time and will only start tomorrow in 14th place. Not a good day at the office then for Schuey, Grosjean and Senna who all missed the cut unlike their team-mates. The biggest cloud of misery would be hanging over the Force India garage whose drivers, Di Resta and the Hulk, would only be starting in 12th and 16th. Ouch.

If the commentators are going to name-check James Bond, then I feel entitled to follow suit!
And finally time for the chaos, mayhem and pandemonium of the final shoot-out session. Well I talk a good talk but with 3 minutes to go, a grand total of 3 cars had set a time – Webber, Alonso and Hamilton. Is it just me or is this qualifying format not really working? In The Most Desperate Attempt Ever to include a topical James Bond reference, Brundle noted that Vettel was 7/1000ths out or alternatively 007. Not to be outdone, Crofty then said Vettel was ‘the Man with the Golden Finger’. Please make it stop now.
And whatd’ya know….Vettel put his car on provisional pole. Gah. This is how everyone will line up in tomorrow’s race:
1.     Vettel
2.     Webber
3.     Hamilton (snuck into 3rdspot at the death)
4.     Button
5.     Alonso
6.     Massa
7.     Kimi
8.     Perez
9.     Maldonaldo
10.  Someone is missing! No time was set…<checks results> ah, its Rosberg
Tough times for Alonso. Is the title slipping inexorably away?


So its the third consecutive Red Bull front row lock-out – oh whoopi-do-dah. Barring a miracle, it looks ominously like its Vettel’s championship for the taking. Darn Adrian Newey and his genius car upgrades that arrived in Singapore. Seb has the swagger jagger of a champion elect (while Alonso marched into the pits with a pained grimace) although despite what Martin Brundle says, Seb looks nothing like Brad Pitt! Clearly Martin would be as useless as the husband at a quiz-night picture round.

Anyway on race day anything can happen. We all know from Narain that those orange stripes can play havoc with a driver’s senses so fingers crossed for some cracking action.

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