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Qualifying analysis - rain wreaks havoc on Hamilton’s race hopes 05 Jul 2014

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Pole sitter Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus E22.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Adrian Sutil (GER) Sauber C33 span into the gravel in Q2.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW36.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Caterham CT05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2014

It’s a long time since we’ve had such a topsy turvy qualifying session as that seen at Silverstone on Saturday. Q1 began wet enough for Pirelli’s intermediates and dried out sufficiently for slicks, before more rain forced a repeat of that process for Q2. Q3 began dry enough in most places for slicks from the get-go, but the way in which the final sector of the track dried so suddenly between out laps and flying laps caught everyone by surprise. The 2014 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix will thus have one of the most mixed-up grids in recent times. We take a team-by-team look at how things panned out…

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 35.766s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.232s, P6

Hamilton seemed to have done enough after shading Rosberg by a couple of tenths in both Q2 and after the first runs in Q3. The two Silvers Arrows crossed the start/finish line literally nose to tail going into their final laps and just beat the flag by fractions of a second. But when Hamilton ran wide in Turn 4 he aborted the lap and let Rosberg by. As Hamilton elected to head for the pits, Rosberg slammed by to grab pole, and to Hamilton’s absolute chagrin, Vettel, Button, Hulkenberg and Magnussen also pushed him down the order. Some days you eat the bear, but this day the bear ate Hamilton. Rosberg, slightly aided by the luck that saw the final sector dry out better than anyone had expected, came through. By giving up, Hamilton suffered horribly.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 37.386s, P2
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 40.606s, P8

Vettel had his best qualifying run of the season and beat Ricciardo as he swept up the order on that final Q3 lap. For a moment he was actually fastest, until Rosberg undercut him by the thick end of two seconds. It was a major fillip for the beleaguered world champion, especially as he only went out because up to that point he hadn’t registered a time. Ricciardo, meanwhile, didn’t make a final run, believing that the track would not improve.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 38.200s, P3
Kevin Magnussen, 1m 38.417s, P5

Button was one of the first to go to slicks in Q1 and went fastest until his time was disallowed when he was deemed to have exceeded track limits in the final corner. Thereafter he was always in the hunt for a decent grid place, and was delighted when the team’s decision to get him to push despite the apparently hopeless conditions paid off at the very end. As his fans wore their #pinkforpapa tee-shirts out of respect for his late father John, he admitted that he had an emotional slowing down lap. Magnussen also improved, to push ahead of Hamilton.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 38.329s, P4
Sergio Perez, 1m 40.457s, P7

Force India looked good with Sergio Perez holding third place after the first runs in Q3. They looked better still when Hulkenberg was the first runner to depose Hamilton, but he fell three places as Button, Vettel and Rosberg went quicker still. Nevertheless fourth on the grid was a huge fillip after their lack of race pace on Friday. Perez was unhappy when he ran wide in Maggotts trying to improve and lost a lot of tyre temperature. But as he said, had they been offered fourth and seventh on the grid yesterday they’d have snatched it.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 40.707s, P9
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 40.855s, P10

Yet again the Toro Rossos made Q3, and line up on the fifth row of the grid. But both drivers believed that the team made a mistake in curtailing their running before the track conditions suddenly improved, suggesting that they could have been higher still.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 38.496s, P11
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 44.018s, P15, will start P20

The conditions helped Lotus immeasurably and Grosjean did a great job to take 11th. Maldonado was 15th, but dropped to 20th, ahead of the unqualified Caterhams, when the team were unable to provide the requisite litre of fuel for post-session analysis.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, 1m 38.709s, P12
Max Chilton, 1m 39.800s, P13, will start P17

What a great run Marussia had in Q1, as they got both cars through to Q2. But they were disappointed not to be able to have a crack at Q3. The team timed their switch to slicks beyond perfection, getting all of the variables just right and making the best of it, while super-experienced squads such as Williams and Ferrari failed. Both drivers did great laps, and believe that even better grid positions could have been possible but for the yellow flags for Gutierrez’s spin which stopped them building on the banker laps that left them 12th and 13th. Unfortunately, a gearbox failure at the start of FP3 dropped Chilton five places.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 40.912s, P14, will start P19
Adrian Sutil, No Q2 time, P16, will start P13

Gutierrez qualified 14th but fell off trying to go faster in Q2. His 10-place grid penalty for an unsafe release in Austria dropped him to the back. Sutil didn’t record a Q2 time after going off the road at the end of Q1, which meant he was unable to take his rightful place the second phase.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 45.318s, P17, will start P14
Felipe Massa, 1m 45.695s, P18, will start P15

After the dramas on Friday morning Williams got things back on track that afternoon, but the wheels came off again in Q1 when they simply misjudged the timing of the switch to slicks tyres. Both drivers had been well up on intermediates, but were left in the lurch when they ran out of time to improve.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 45.935s, P19, will start P16
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 46.684s, P20, will start P18

Ferrari were in exactly the same boat as Williams, failing to judge correctly when conditions would support the switch from intermediates to slicks.

Caterham
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 49.421s, P21 (outside 107%)
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 49.625s, P22 (outside 107%)

Neither of the CT05s got going fast enough as conditions changed rapidly in Q1, and thus for the first time failed to get within the 107% rule, but both will be allowed to start from the back of the grid.

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