Brazil Qualifying – Throwing Out the Baby With the Bathwater?

Wow – what a qualifying session today!  We all knew what each of the championship challengers had to do – but nature intervened as the heavens opened in a downpour not dissimilar to that of Malaysia this year!

Summary

Qualifying was delayed after a torrential downpour in FP3, and when Qualifying finally started, Q1 was stopped after Fisichella spun early on in the session.

After a lengthy delay, it restarted, but conditions were so difficult it became a lottery with both McLarens and Vettel dropping out.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Qualifying

Vettel’s Championship chances look grim at best (PicApp.com)

Q2 was delayed for over 20 minutes, but barely got started before Liuzzi had a horrific accident on the way into turn one.  He was OK, but Qualifying was delayed for an hour and a half while the officials waited to see if conditions improved.  There was a lot of “will they or won’t they” guessing, and the BBC did a marvellous job filling in the time and even switched to BBC2 after delaying the start of “Strictly Come Dancing”.  However, this did little to appease the viewers of Merlin who seem to think it’s the end of the world that their TV programme got cancelled.  Personally, I thought that was quite sad, but that’s just me ;)

When Q2 finally resumed it was nearly an hour and a half after the red flag.  Sadly for Button, his initial run was not enough and he stayed out on wet tyres, overusing them and not making it into Q3 as the others improved.  So two of the main contenders for the championship will start near the back of the grid together tomorrow.  Vettel has a near impossible task to keep his championship hopes alive and it looks unlikely that Button will clinch the championship tomorrow now.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Qualifying

Button struggles with a damp squib of a performance in qualifying today (PicApp.com)

For Q3, things were much more straightforward – even if some of the drivers were unexpectedly there!  In the end, it was an emotional pole position for Rubens Barrichello, the hometown boy who has never had a good result at his home event – what a time to do that if he does tomorrow with the championship so finely poised.

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Qualifying

Top three qualifiers – Sutil (3rd), Barrichello (1st) and Webber (2nd) (PicApp.com)

The Numbers

So an eventful qualifying session today that took over three hours – a real test of endurance with a result that promises an interesting race tomorrow.  Here are the Q3 Times:

Brz09_q3times

(For an explanation on this and the following graphs, please refer to my Qualifying Analysis Page which explains it all…)

It’s hard to read too much into these times as the conditions were so bad, but Alonso seems far off the pace.  However, before he qualified, he said he expected to be around tenth place, so maybe the effort was realistic?

F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Qualifying

Alonso playing in the midfield today (PicApp.com)

So what were the Fuel weights today?  Let’s take a look:

Brz09_fuelweights

Quite similar weights today (which is to be expected because of the rain), but Barrichello is running surprising lighter than Sutil or Webber, who appear to have run an ‘honest’ pace.  Nakajima is heavy with Alonso and Raikkonen also light – so the Williams might have good pace, but Renault look like they’re miles off.

How does this translate into the fuel-corrected times?

Brz09_q3times_fuelcorrected

Unsurprisingly, Webber now takes pole, but Barrichello only drops to second – Raikkonen did a poor lap but not as bad as Alonso, who can’t be hopeful of a good result tomorrow :(

Putting it all together:

brz09_q3times_fuelweights corrected

Brz09_q3times corrected

Conclusions

So who’s gonna win tomorrow?  I would say Barrichello, but his previous jinx could still happen tomorrow!  Webber is looking handy, but also suffers from the bad luck, and Sutil seems to dislike wet races.  I could probably make a good case for each driver in the top 10 not winning tomorrow though, so I will take a punt and say Barrichello will win tomorrow, Button will not score any points and Vettel will be out of the running.  Whatever happens, Button will still be in the lead of the championship tomorrow, but he will not be champion.  Having said that, something completely random could happen (as it usually does at Brazil), so we are probably in for a decent race :D

Let me know what you think and who you think will win tomorrow.  And remember to join me in Live Commenting during the race over at the good guys on Sidepodcast ;)

Don’t forget to vote in the poll below either, it’s just for fun though!

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7 thoughts on “Brazil Qualifying – Throwing Out the Baby With the Bathwater?

  1. Webber looks good for the win, also what chance a Sutil podium? I can’t imagine Kimi’s short load will help him..
    Hopefully Barrichello will get 1st or 2nd and make Abu Dhabi really interesting!

  2. Since the beggining of the calendar F1 GP’s we wanted or not have been exciting and full of surprises. Brawn Scuderia and BUT wining everything & crushing red-silver prides. Then after the “Toro Rojo” revival with VET & WEB.
    Making this year a roller coaster fun to watch.
    With all the crap mentioned above; is clear ( at least for me ) that Jenson lost his edge and that Rubinno is having “The race” of his life if he’s comited to win the pilots championship.
    I will go with my heart and wish for him to win from start to the chequered flag.
    No doubt strategy, climate & luck will make interlagos a 2009 decider like last year

  3. Here is my qualifying analysis: http://www.pitlanefanatic.com/blog/index.php/1004/brazilian-qualifying-analysis/

    It looks to be between Barrichello and Webber, slightly favouring the Australian. But then with the prospect of safety cars it changing weather throughout the race it could be anyone’s. If they don’t start behind the safety car Kimi’s KERS might be able to ruin a few driver’s races at the start (poor Sutil) although there isn’t much of a run into Turn 1 so Barrichello and Webber should be safe.

  4. Great numerical Analysis Gavin! Just couldn’t find the time to reply on F1F. But I’ve been avidly following your analysis since the start of the season :)

    Cheers :)

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