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Qualifying analysis - Williams ready to attack

06 Sep 2014

Consistent conditions again enabled everyone to have a crack at getting their final set-up work done, and during the course of FP3 it emerged that the general difference between Pirelli’s hard- and medium-compound tyres was around six-tenths of a second.

Hamilton then used his to optimum effect to secure pole, but though it was another Mercedes one-two, Williams look very threatening for the race. We take a team-by-team look at Saturday’s Monza form…

Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 24.109s, P1

Nico Rosberg, 1m 24.383s, P2

For once things went pretty smoothly for Hamilton throughout qualifying and he was fastest in all three sessions on his way to his fifth pole of the season and his first since Barcelona in May. Rosberg, however, had gearbox problems in the morning but said that overnight changes to the car made it feel so much better that he felt comfortable right from the start of Q1. He was four-tenths off Hamilton after their first runs, but closed that on the second as Hamilton failed to improve. They are in the best possible shape for the race, so long as their brakes stand up to four big decelerations per lap over 53 laps.

Williams

Valtteri Bottas, 1m 24.697s, P3

Felipe Massa, 1m 24.865s, P4

Bottas and Massa really squeezed the pips out of their FW36s, but the former admitted that Mercedes had found speed since Friday. Nevertheless, both drivers believe that they will be able to attack tomorrow, rather than have to look over their shoulders at what McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull are likely to produce in race trim.

McLaren

Kevin Magnussen, 1m 25.314s, P5

Jenson Button, 1m 25.379s, P6

McLaren’s very low downforce package did what was required of it and Magnussen and Button were extremely well matched on their way to solid fifth and sixth places. The Dane came back from various niggling issues in FP3, while the Briton said he’d not got the cleanest drive through the Lesmos on his second run. Both expect to have decent race pace.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, 1m 25.430s, P7

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 26.110s, P12, will start P11

Alonso said it didn’t matter if he’d had 100 sets of tyres at his disposal, his seventh fastest lap was all the F14 T had in the tank. Raikkonen was unhappy with his performance as he got bumped from Q3 by a late improvement from Magnussen, and blamed lack of grip and ensuing handling problems that made his car difficult to drive.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, 1m 25.436s, P8

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 25.709s, P9

Vettel thought anything from fifth to 10th was possible in the tight circumstances, while Ricciardo was unimpressed with ninth. Both believe they’ll be quicker than McLaren tomorrow, and at least as fast as Ferrari, but conceded that Mercedes and Williams will most likely be beyond reach.

Force India

Sergio Perez, 1m 25.944s, P10

Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 26.279s, P14, will start P13

Once again Perez had the upper hand over Hulkenberg. The Mexican was happy enough and felt that ninth was the best he might have done, but the German said his car was loose all day, that he hadn’t done a great first run in Q2, and that his warm-up preparation was frustrated by traffic on his second.

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 26.070s, P11, will start P21

Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 26.157s, P13, will start P12

Kvyat was in great form yet again, but Vergne was this time right behind him. And the Frenchman will start ahead as the unfortunate Russian loses 10 grid places because of having to use a sixth Renault power unit. At least one of the cars should be in the hunt for points.

Sauber

Adrian Sutil, 1m 26.588s, P15, will start P14

Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 26.692s, P16, will start P15

Sutil and Gutierrez had their C33s maxed out. Sutil had to recover from a morning powertrain problem, while Gutierrez admitted that he spoiled his final lap with a small mistake.

Lotus

Pastor Maldonado, 1m 27.520s, P17, will start P16

Romain Grosjean, 1m 27.632s, P18, will start P17

Grosjean was late getting going, while Maldonado was told to stop changing gears because of an imminent problem and thus got caught on the bubble. On a disappointing day neither got through to Q2.

Caterham

Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 27.671s, P19, will start P18

Marcus Ericsson, 1m 28.562s, P22, must start from pit lane

Kobayashi really chuffed Caterham with his performances in FP3 and Q1, and for the first time in a while one of the green cars was ahead of their Marussia opposition. Ericsson failed to slow sufficiently for doubled waved yellows in Turn 3, and was given three penalty points and ordered to start the race from the pit lane.

Marussia

Jules Bianchi, 1m 27.738s, P20, will start P19

Max Chilton, 1m 28.247s, P21, will start P20

Bianchi said his MR03 was on the limit in qualifying but hopes it will be more competitive than the Lotuses and Caterhams in race trim. Chilton was disappointed and felt that perhaps they didn’t go as far with changes to his car overnight than perhaps they might have.