11/07/2012

British GP, Silverstone: Wet, wet & the deciding day “DRY”


The weather pretty much decided most of the weekend in the Grand Prix. It was raining cats and dogs literally there with little running on Friday and teams left with almost no data. Having all the wet tyres data and little dry running data the team faced hard time on Sunday the deciding day which remained dry throughout. Webber overtook Alonso in the dying stages to win the GP while Vettel ended at P3. The home hero’s had to face disappointments.


 The weekend review is right below:



Practice Sessions, FP1:


The session was less talked about than the traffic mess happening around Silverstone. Seriously, it was raining so much that no team wanted to do any run. With the predictions in mind, they had to save some tyres too. The maximum laps done was 19 by Kobayashi (including the out laps, installation lap). Grosjean put Lotus at P1 with Ricciardo rarely putting his Toro Rosso at P2 and Hamilton at P3. Jules Bianchi sat for Hulkenberg but could do only an installation lap in the whole session. Likewise Di Resta did not much running and didn’t set any time. Dani Clos sat in for Karthikeyan in the HRT. Nothing much to talk about the Indian connection here.


FP2:


Only one thing continued from one session to another i.e rain. Once again the team chosed to do limited running, main reason was damp track and limited wet & intermediate tyres. The maximum laps again was from Kobayashi, this time only 16 as he ended at P2. Hamilton brought some delight for the home crowd, ending at P1 and Schumacher at P3. Hulkenberg returned in FP2 and got some laps to end at P9 while Di Resta finally set a time to end at P11. Karthikeyan ended at P20 by virtue of 4 drivers not running. Everyone at the end of the day were just hoping for some dry running and were disappointed with rain.


FP3:


Deep down everyone would be smiling with them finally getting some dry running. And we saw every team doing lap after lap, we won’t see them doing so many laps in FP3 normally but with less runs on Friday, they had to collect all the data in some 1 hours of quality dry run. Alonso lead the way with surprisingly Button at P2 & Grosjean at P3. Force India’s Hulkenberg ended at P10 while Di Resta at P12. Karthikeyan put up some good times as he ended at P23 beating his teammate.


The practice sessions simply didn’t give out anything to make us believe that such and such driver will be on pole. With rain predicted in qualifying, it was more drama. Usual suspects were Lotus, McLaren & Red Bull and this time Ferrari as well. Force India were looking good for a Q3 place while I thought Karthikeyan would give a fight to his teammate and perhaps one of the Marussia.


Qualifying, Q1:



A rare sight welcomed us at the start of the session as most of the drivers stood in line to get out and post a time before heavy rains starts or the track become more damp. They had only two tyre choices wet & intermediate. Times kept tumbling down as the session progressed with Vettel ending at P1, Hulkenberg at P2 & Maldonado at P3. Due to Glock’s spin at start/finish line towards the end of the session, Button couldn’t make it to Q2. Along with him the usual suspects from Caterham, HRT & Marussia didn’t make the cut. Karthikeyan finished at P23 as Pic couldn’t qualify under the 107% time but was allowed to race. Both SFI made it easy into Q2.


Q2:


The session began with rain in the air, teams opted for wet weather tyres. Once again the drivers opted to run more just to be in the safe zone as times yet again kept tumbling. But due to severe rain the session halted with 6:19 minutes to go. After a lengthy delay due to rain, the session finally re-started and everyone came out. Hamilton ended at P1, Hulkenberg at P2 making into Q3 and Massa at P3. Di Resta ended at P11 as Alonso improved on his last lap to end at P10.


Q3:


Pole was anybody’s game as times kept improving during the session. Apart from Grosjean who spun in Q2, everyone was out. The tussle was mainly between Webber & Alonso. In the end Alonso won the battle as he got his maiden pole position of the season with Webber at P2, Schumacher ended at P3. Hulkenberg couldn’t improve his time as he ended at P9 but was to start at P14 due to gearbox change penalty.


Well, the qualifying turned to be a messy one as rain played spoiled most of the sessions. Most of the drivers were spinning sideways and an accident was just about to happen but remarkably there were no big incidents. With such conditions it was down to the drivers getting a perfect lap and Alonso got it in the end. Hulkenberg could have got a top 5 finish but he said he coulsn’t get a perfect lap in Q3. As for Di Resta, I was surprised to hear that he was on a dry setup but still was getting some good times, he was unlucky in the end to miss out Q3. But points was possible in the race as Di Resta was to start at P10 & Hulkenberg at P14.


Raceday:


It was all different weather on Sunday, yes it was all dry and sunny. Rain was predicted in the later stages but it didn’t in the end making it as a dry race. There was a certain buzz in the paddock as several actors, cricketers, musician were spotted. All eyes were on the start as Alonso & Webber were in the front row with Schumacher & Vettel behind. Major hot battle would have been between Hamilton & Maldonado with Grosjean behind. The start had a different story as Alonso got a clear line and got ahead of Webber with the line-up mostly remaining the same behind. Unfortunately Di Resta’s race ended in two laps as he got clipped at the back by Grosjean, he managed to get back to the pits but the floor was damaged and he had to suffer a DNF. Hulkenberg made a good start as he was at P11. Karthikeyan was battling with Pic behind.


The battle between Alonso & Webber was on as others behind them were far off fighting as Schumacher, Massa, Vettel & Kimi battled among themselves. Hamilton & Button were having a torrid time, the Britons were having a disastrous race. Meanwhile, there was another victim to Maldonado’s antics as Perez suffered a DNF after they collided. Grosjean after going back of the grid had to make up lot of places which he was doing well. The race was more becoming a tactical race as with all the limited data’s, the team had to make decisions on instinct with tyre choices.


After Di Resta suffered a DNF at the start, it was all down to Hulkenberg to get some valuable points for the team. Actually, Di Resta was on a dry set-up and could have got a great result as it turned to be a dry race. This was his first DNF in 24 races which shows how reliable the car has been. Hulkenberg was having a difficult time out there but he was hanging on well in P9 for most of the race and was lapping in the people around him. Towards the end he was under pressure from Senna, Button & Kobayashi. Karthikeyan on the other hand was fighting with Pic but that Marussia was better on the day and got ahead of him.


The race got lively towards the end as Alonso’s strategy of having hard, hard & soft didn’t work and Webber just quickly in a matter of 4-5 laps got ahead of Alonso to take the lead and thereby win the race, Alonso ended at P2 in the end. Vettel completed the top 3 after overtaking Massa. Kimi ended at P4 and Grosjean at P5, helping Lotus take the P3 in CC. Hulkenberg tried very hard and was running well to finish at P9 but with two laps to go, he over-braked and lost out to Senna, Button & Kobayashi as he ended at P12. His tyre choice of hard, hard, soft also didn’t work. Karthikeyan ended at P21 with 2 laps down to the winner, the team is improving GP by GP.


With a win, Webber secured a deal to drive for RBR in 2013 season. It was great in the end as Webber took some 1-2 seconds of each laps to catch Alonso. It was disaster for McLaren and Mercedes. SFI also didn’t have a great outing but should be happy as their rivals Williams & Sauber didn’t score much as well. I thought Di Resta would have done a great job on the dry set-up. Though the team were disappointed, not to score any points in one of their home GP. The field is still open but there is some gap coming up between the 5th, 6th, 7th teams. It’s still becoming a historic season with the kind of racing and strategies we are seeing. Next up is German GP after 2 weeks, home GP for Hulkenberg. It should be a cracking race yet again, till then ciao. Drive & live safely!!


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