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Qualifying analysis - Red Bulls to head Mercedes challenge

26 Jul 2014

Once again conditions for qualifying were cooler than they had been on Friday and more in line with those from FP3, as the Budapest track temperature fell from an initial 47 at the start of Q1 to 40 by the end of Q3.

Rain at the start of that final session was also disruptive, but the big talking point was the fire that sent Lewis Hamilton to the back of the grid for the second race in succession, leaving Red Bull in prime position to capitalise should Rosberg’s luck also desert him on Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at the Saturday formbook in Hungary…


Nico Rosberg, 1m 22.715s, P1

Lewis Hamilton, No time, P21, will from pit lane

The big story here, of course, was Hamilton’s wretched luck after a fuel leak caused his F1 W05 Hybrid to catch fire at the start of Q1. The resulting damage meant a chassis, engine and gearbox replacement, and the incident has condemned him to another afternoon of fighting back from adversity, this time starting from the pit lane. Meanwhile, Rosberg’s luck holds and he starts from pole after surviving an off in Turn 1 in Q3 when the rain came, and then knocking down his lap time to annihilate Vettel.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 23.201s, P2

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 23.391s, P4

Red Bull came here expecting to be closer to Mercedes than they ended up, and Rosberg’s final lap was a bit of a black eye for the Milton Keynes team, but with Hamilton’s appalling luck the revitalised Vettel was able to snatch second as he felt the car and track coming to him all through qualifying. Ricciardo struggled more here than anywhere else, but got the lap in right at the end to back him with fourth place. Whether they’ll have the race pace to challenge Mercedes - let alone the grip on the dirty side of the grid - remains to be seen, but they at least had the legs on Williams and will be right in the fight for the other podium slots.


Valtteri Bottas, 1m 23.354s, P3

Felipe Massa, 1m 24.223s, P6

Williams surprised themselves with their upturn in performance on a tight track that shouldn’t have suited the FW36, which is a tribute to the way that the team are developing the car this year. Bottas was on his usual brilliant form, while Massa complained that he had to pass five cars on his best lap in Q3.


Fernando Alonso, 1m 23.909s, P5

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 26.792, P17, will start P16

Yet again Alonso pulled something big out from Ferrari, and you can bet he’ll be in the fight for the podium tomorrow, especially as he’ll start from the clean side of the grid. Raikkonen, like Hamilton, has a mountain to climb thanks to his team, who told him he could come in at the end of Q1 as there seemed little likelihood of anyone beating him. Until Bianchi did…


Jenson Button, 1m 24.294s, P7

Kevin Magnussen, No Q3 time, P10, will start from pit lane

Button had struggled with the balance of his MP4-29 all weekend, but found it transformed for qualifying and at one stage bounced as high as fourth before being pushed back down to seventh. Magnussen looked good until the start of Q3 when he went into Turn 1 too quickly in the rain and ploughed into the tyre wall. With Button so well placed their chance of overhauling Force India in the points table looks reasonable, but because of chassis and gearbox damage Magnussen will start from the pit lane.

Toro Rosso

Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 24.720s, P8

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 24.706s, P11, will start P10

Vergne’s form from Friday carried over as he put his Toro Rosso eighth in the line-up in a car in which he felt much more confident. Kvyat believed he too could easily have made Q3, until he locked up the rears and spun in Turn 12.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 24.775s, P9

Sergio Perez, 1m 25.211s, P13, will start P12

Force India didn’t look that hot in any of the practice sessions, but when the chips were down Hulkenberg delivered. Perez was unlucky, suffering a hydraulic leak after his first run in Q2. The VJM07’s race pace looked very good yesterday, so Hulkenberg in particular is well placed to continue his consistent garnering of points.


Adrian Sutil, 1m 25.136s, P12, will start P11

Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 25.260s, P14, will start P13

Sauber played with set-ups all through practice, and Sutil said his C33 was a lot more fun to drive in qualifying as he took it to a season-best of 12th. That will translate to 11th with Magnussen starting in the pits, conferring a double advantage because he starts from the clean side of the grid. Gutierrez was happy too, but said he lost his best Q2 lap when he encountered yellow flags.


Romain Grosjean, 1m 25.337s, P15, will start P14

Pastor Maldonado, No time, P22, will start P20

Grosjean was very disappointed to find that his E22 had lost the edge he found in FP3, having believed then that Q3 was a possibility. Maldonado stopped at the start of Q1 with a problem with his car’s energy storage.


Jules Bianchi, 1m 27.419s, P16, will start P15

Max Chilton, 1m 27.819s, P19, will start P18

Bianchi was delighted to find a chunk more speed to outpace the Caterhams and make Q2 for the second time this season, but Chilton had an electrical problem that forced his MR03 into limp home mode.


Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 27.139s, P18, will start P17

Marcus Ericsson, 1m 28.643s, P20, will start P19

Kobayashi felt he got the most out of his CT05 before its tyres went off, but Ericsson said his, though slightly better, was still veering from understeer in some corners to oversteer in others.