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India 2011 - Qualifying highlights - Follow the coverage of Saturday action as pole position is decided

Published by Christine

Qualifying in India goes off without a hitch
Qualifying in India goes off without a hitchCredit: Force India F1

There were three very different sessions to behold in qualifying today. Q1 held a lot of excitement, as Michael Schumacher struggled to find pace, and Timo Glock suffered mechanical troubles. Q2 was a much quieter affair, almost subdued, as drivers scrabbled to get into the top ten, with no real surprises.

Q3 held another pole position for Vettel, but a big crash for Felipe Massa was something of a shock, and compromised other fast laps, and presumably his race tomorrow as well. If you missed any of the action, or want to relive it minute by minute, then please sit back and enjoy the Factbyte Factbox highlights for Indian GP qualifying.

As it happened: 2011 India - Qualifying

  • 09:00

    Hello and welcome to the Factbyte Factbox, this is qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix!

  • 09:01

    Drivers have been praising the new circuit so far, although there has been some chaos throughout the sessions.

  • 09:02

    We've seen dogs on tracks, engines blowing up, and several crashes into the barrier. A 60 second round-up is available here:

  • 09:02

    Whilst I am self promoting, I must just point out this fabulous F1 Big Picture: We're getting some great pictures out of India.

  • 09:03

    Now, what of the sessions. FP1 was absolute chaos as drivers got used to the new circuit, understood the grip beneath them, and avoided the dog running loose.

  • 09:03

    Lewis Hamilton topped the first session, with Felipe Massa popping up into first for FP2. Sebastian Vettel took top honours this morning, which puts him right on track for another of his many pole positions today.

  • 09:04
    2011 Pole Positions
    1Sebastian Vettel12
    2Mark Webber3
    3Lewis Hamilton1
  • 09:05

    TweetTweet from @HRTF1Team: We finally had to replace the gearbox on Daniel's car, therefore he will start with a penalty of 5 places on the starting grid tomorrow

  • 09:06

    Penalties galore for qualifying. That's a five place drop for Daniel Ricciardo, on top of the three place drops for Pérez and Hamilton.

  • 09:06

    Hamilton and Pérez were given the penalties for ignoring yellow flags during one of the many incidents in FP1.

  • 09:07

    If you're watching the action today, please do join in the Sidepodcast comments: There's great fun to be had talking about penguins and polar bears. And qualifying.

  • 09:11
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1L Hamilton1:26.836
    Free Practice 2F Massa1:25.706
    Free Practice 3S Vettel1:24.824
  • 09:16

    TweetTweet from @MyTeamLotus: 15 minutes before the first ever Indian GP qualifying session. All the bodywork is on, final checks being done and we're ready to go to work

  • 09:17

    Massa's front wingFerrari tested out a wobbly wing in practice, but have swapped it out for the old wing now, via @adamcooperf1.

  • 09:19

    TweetTweet from @eddstrawF1: F1 qualifying underway in 10 minutes. Big time difference between soft and hard rubber could make Q1 very interesting.

  • 09:23

    Qualifying strategy talk with Martin Whitmarsh: "Qualifying is a tough time for us... we looked this morning in some difficulty on the harder option tyre here, yet ordinarily that is what we'd use in Q1. We know there's going to be a lot of traffic, and there's a lot of cars that are hopefully going to be a lot slower. The easy way through is to put on the softer, quicker tyre, but we probably won't do that."

  • 09:23

    Whitmarsh also jokes that he tries not to get involved in the nitty gritty decision making, because when he does, they get it wrong!

  • 09:26

    We've talked of three penalties already, but don't forget that Vitaly Petrov also drops five places on the grid after causing the collision with Schumacher in Korea.

  • 09:26



    Wind speed2.9mps
  • 09:27

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: What will be our place on the grid? Logic would say 5th and 6th, as in FP3 and Korea. We will see if we can do something better....

  • 09:27

    A couple of the grandstands look pretty full, plenty of fans, and I can see a couple of Ferrari flags waving in the breeze.

  • 09:28

    Just a minute or two to go now, engines are starting to fire up, and helmets going on. All the drivers are running tributes to Wheldon and Simoncelli this weekend.

  • 09:29

    RadioTeam radio to Narain Karthikeyan: "Before we go out on the circuit, leave some other cars to go out and clear up the dust. We've got four laps."

  • 09:30

    Lewis Hamilton is being strapped into his car, making himself comfortable ahead of the session.

  • 09:30

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 09:30

    Lotus sent out their cars first, so Karthikeyan will be happy with that.

  • 09:31

    I've just remembered I need live timing, you might want it too:

  • 09:32

    Drivers peeling out onto the track now. Both Renault drivers, both Force India and Toro Rosso chaps as well.

  • 09:33

    TedNews: Williams, Sauber and Renault are all battling hard to get into Q2 today and will want to be last to set a lap this session - traffic could be an issue.

  • 09:33

    It looks like everyone is opting for the harder tyre so far. The compounds are hards and softs this weekend - silver and yellow sidewalls respectively.

  • 09:34

    Senna has the benchmark time at the moment, a 1:29.952. We have no other pole positions to compare it too, but the fastest FP time was a 1:24.

  • 09:35

    TweetTweet from @lawrobarretto: And qualifying is go, go, go. Drivers will want to qualify an odd number grid placing because the other 'even' side will be very dirty #f1

  • 09:36

    Replays show Lewis Hamilton running wide and kicking up a massive plume of light brown dust.

  • 09:37

    Fernando Alonso has popped up to P1, with a 1:27.478. Mark Webber jumps up to P2, but half a second off the Ferrari at the moment.

  • 09:38

    All drivers have been out except for the Sauber drivers, who must be leaving it late as a strategy call.

  • 09:38

    At the moment, Glock, D'Ambrosio and Barrichello are outside the 107% time, but there's time for them to improve.

  • 09:39

    Pastor MaldonadoPastor leaves the garage ready for a qualifying run, via @WilliamsF1Team.

  • 09:39

    Vettel tops the times, dropping the benchmark to a 1:26.948. The track seems to be getting faster all the time.

  • 09:40

    TedNews: Sauber are concerned they might not get out of this session unscathed, so they're waiting for everyone else to clean up the track before heading out.

  • 09:41

    Timo Glock isn't even in the car at the moment, a Virgin mechanic is wiping the car down with a cloth. He still remains outside the 107% time though.

  • 09:42

    The top six drivers are still out on track, most from 7th down to 18th are back in the pits, with the two Lotus drivers setting off for another run.

  • 09:43

    TweetTweet from @MarussiaVirgin: Gearbox issue cuts short Timo's qualifying

  • 09:44

    Vettel leads, with Hamilton and Alonso behind. The top drivers have returned to the garages now.

  • 09:45

    The Sauber drivers have hit the track now, Kobayashi's first time moves him up to 15th, with Pérez up to 11th.

  • 09:45

    Renault have said both their drivers have gone out on softs, and it looks like Pastor Maldonado is also on the softer compound.

  • 09:46

    Replays show that Senna closed up on a slow Alguersuari and had to take avoiding action to pass the Toro Rosso by.

  • 09:47

    The drop zone features Senna, Barrichello, Ricciardo, Karthikeyan, Trulli and D'Ambrosio, with Glock also out.

  • 09:47

    Kovalainen was up to 17th but Senna jumped all the way up to 5th, dropping the Lotus driver back down again.

  • 09:47

    Schumacher is currently 17th now, so he's on a hot lap to try and improve that.

  • 09:48

    Barrichello improves to 14th, and now Button is moving closer and closer to the drop zone - currently 15th.

  • 09:49

    Petrov goes P1 with a 1:26.189 - the track continuing to improve massively.

  • 09:49

    Only Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Senna and Alonso remain in the garage. All other cars are out and running.

  • 09:49

    Except for Glock, obviously.

  • 09:50

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 09:50

    Button crossed the line in plenty of time for a hot lap. Schumacher is the one in trouble at the moment though. He's looking good to move up so far.

  • 09:51

    He's caught up behind Karthikeyan through sector two, but he crosses the line 11th.

  • 09:51

    That drops Kobayashi into the drop zone, and the Sauber driver is already tucked up in the garage.

  • 09:52

    Button managed to improve all the way up to third, so no worries for him - except perhaps using an extra set of tyres.

  • 09:52

    The fastest three were Petrov, Vettel and Button.

  • 09:53
    Qualifying Position
  • 09:53

    In the end, Glock was the only driver who fell outside the 107% threshold, but he'll probably be allowed to race given it was a mechanical issue.

  • 09:55
    Qualifying Battle
    SauberQualified Ahead
    Sergio Pérez10
    Kamui Kobayashi6
  • 09:56

    Interview with Glock: "The fifth gear broke unfortunately. Bit strange because we never had a problem on the gearboxes, so we have to find out what the problem was. It's a shame, we had good speed in the car... but then the gear broke and that's it for me."

  • 09:57

    Interview with Karthikeyan: "It's been a while, and it's emotional driving in my country. I didn't think I'd get a chance, in my racing career, to drive here, but it's happened and I'm very, very happy."

  • 09:57

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 09:58

    Senna, Petrov and Alguersuari make early starts to the second session, joined by Sébastien Buemi for an outlap.

  • 09:59

    Looks like everyone's going for soft tyres at the moment. Jenson Button rolls out of the garage to start an outlap, he'll want a calmer session this time!

  • 10:01

    Vettel puts in a benchmark of 1:24.657, two seconds faster than Buemi's first attempt this session.

  • 10:02

    Replays show Senna running wide off track twice in his outlap, which won't help the tyre situation. He returns to the garage for now.

  • 10:04

    Sutil, Di Resta and Pérez have yet to hit the track, all others have set a time.

  • 10:04

    Vettel and Webber lead the way, and both Red Bull drivers have returned to the pit lane.

  • 10:05

    Behind them, Button sits third, with Massa just behind. From eighth downwards, there's no activity, all sit in the garage biding their time.

  • 10:05

    TweetTweet from @Pirelli_Media: We're expecting between 2 to 3 pit stops tomorrow, but not out of the question for some people to try one stop. Many possibilities out there

  • 10:07

    Pérez finally heads out on track, as do the Force India guys, ready to set their first lap times of the session.

  • 10:08

    Top eight are all sitting in the garage now, Vettel leads Hamilton and Alonso. From Buemi in 9th down to Pérez in 17th (no time yet), all are ready to fight for position.

  • 10:09

    All drivers have set a time now, so the drop zone is looking at Buemi, Petrov, Di Resta, Sutil, Barrichello, Maldonado, Senna, Pérez.

  • 10:10

    Just under two minutes to go.

  • 10:11

    Oops, I added Buemi into that list, but he is currently sitting tenth, so okay for now. In danger, though.

  • 10:11

    And to prove me wrong, he improves to eighth.

  • 10:12

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 10:12

    Sutil improves to eighth now, and that drops Schumacher into the bottom seven - we've seen this before already today!

  • 10:12

    Pérez pits from 17th place, and he'll take a three place grid drop on that too.

  • 10:13

    Schumacher remains P12, improving his laptime, but not doing enough to get through to the top ten.

  • 10:14
    Qualifying Position
    13Di Resta
    Force India
  • 10:14

    QuoteComment from Journeyer: Alguersuari and Petrov set the SAME time - but Jaime set it first.

  • 10:17

    So, the top ten features two Red Bulls, McLarens, Ferraris and Toro Rossos, plus 1x Rosberg and 1x Sutil.

  • 10:18

    Interview with Kamui Kobayashi: "Definitely disappointed. The last lap was a pretty good lap but I had traffic with Massa. We're not strong enough, but I had no luck as well."

  • 10:19

    Track sweepersThe marshals makes the most of the break between sessions to sort out all that dust kicked up by drivers running wide.

  • 10:20

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 10:20

    Lewis Hamilton heads out first, getting to the end of the pitlane just as the light turns green.

  • 10:21

    Hamilton's running a new helmet this weekend, and he looks suspiciously like Button from a distance!

  • 10:22

    Five drivers out on track, five waiting for the optimum moments. Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa and Vettel all working on lap times.

  • 10:23

    Hamilton crosses the line, but both Massa and Alonso beat him, with Fernando going P1 with a 1:24.586. That's almost two seconds up on Hamilton's time.

  • 10:24

    Webber crosses the line in a, may I say, pitiful fourth - 1:31.166. There must have been an issue there somewhere.

  • 10:24

    Vettel's first lap puts him up to P1, and Hamilton comes round for his second lap but improves to only second.

  • 10:25

    Five minutes gone, five to go. All drivers out now, except the two Ferrari boys who are having tyres changed.

  • 10:25

    Even Adrian Sutil has left the garage and gone out to set a lap time. No one hanging around in the garage today.

  • 10:27

    Vettel, Hamilton and Webber leave their top three spots for a moment, to take on fresh tyres, leaving the track clear for those who have yet to set a time.

  • 10:28

    Rosberg's first lap time puts him up to P6, Button currently sits seventh on a 1:30. I should have mentioned that Webber improved to third with a 1:24 - that 1:31 was just fooling us.

  • 10:29

    Actually, Sutil has returned to the pitlane without setting a time. Just an installation lap for him and the two Toro Rosso guys it seems.

  • 10:30

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 10:30

    Hamilton backs off his lap and returns to the pitlane. He knows he wasn't faster, and will have the three place drop anyway.

  • 10:30

    Yellow flagYellow flags. Felipe Massa has gone off into the barrier.

  • 10:31

    Vettel went even faster to secure his pole position, but the yellow flags will not help anyone's final lap.

  • 10:31

    Massa is out of the car, he's okay, but Rob looks particularly frustrated on the pit wall.

  • 10:32

    Replays show that Massa hit the kerb hard and the front suspension just snapped, sending him careering into the barrier.

  • 10:33
    Qualifying Position
    1VettelRed Bull
    Red Bull
    8SutilForce India
    Toro Rosso
    10AlguersuariToro Rosso
  • 10:33

    In the end, it was the three drivers - Sutil, Buemi and Alguersuari - who did not set a time. Massa did well enough for sixth before crashing his car.

  • 10:34

    Massa's accidentFelipe Massa's front suspension gives up after meeting the kerb.

  • 10:34

    Replays show Jenson Button was passing Felipe Massa's accident as it happened, and set a fastest sector just as the yellow flags came out.

  • 10:35

    Massa returns to the pitlane on the back of a scooter. An undignified end to the session for him.

  • 10:36
    Gap Analysis
  • 10:37

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: Fernando finished 4th but will start 3rd on the grid because of Hamilton's penalty

  • 10:37

    Hamilton's three place grid drop will see him fifth, behind Button.

  • 10:41

    Interview with Jenson Button: "Massa was heading into the gravel as I was coming up to it. I saw the tyre marks, I saw the smoke and then I saw the yellow flag... we'll see what happens. I backed off, I hope it's enough.

    "This morning the car felt great. The pace was good and the car just felt good. This afternoon I couldn't find any grip, on the hard tyre especially. I didn't really get a clear lap either on any of my runs.

    "I think I'll end up fourth tomorrow, we'll see. At the moment I have to work out why I can't find a balance, and then hopefully we'll have a better race than qualifying. It was a disaster qualifying really."

  • 10:43

    Press Conference Quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It was a good session for us, obviously a new circuit, new venue, tricky for all of us, first time round in qualifying. It was tricky with the dust on the track so we ended up with one racing line clear of dirt, and just a little bit out makes you lose a lot of time. I think we managed pretty well, the car was fantastic since yesterday. I think in the end there was a little bit left in the first sector. I'm extremely happy, it's good to be here. I think it's a very interesting race, a challenging circuit. I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

  • 10:43

    Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "It's been a good day for me, I think. I'm quite surprised we were able to split the Red Bulls, it's great to be on the front row in terms of how we qualified. Tomorrow we still have good race pace, and it's a long race with two DRS zones so overtaking should be a lot easier compared to other places."

  • 10:44

    Press Conference Quotes - Mark Webber: "It's a good challenge for all of us, a new venue. Tricky to work out the right strategy for tyres. Lots of teams tried different styles to get the best lap time out of the car. I could have done better in the first sector, on my first lap, or my only run because of the yellow flags. A good job from the team, come to a new venue and prepared well, and put down a good foundation for the race tomorrow."

  • 10:45

    Press Conference Quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "As Lewis says, it's a long race. Lewis starts in fifth, I think. It's a long race, it's a new track, we really don't know how the tyres will respond. We've seen a couple of surprises, but we'll find out tomorrow. It's not time now to worry about those things. First we have to race hard and enjoy. I think Mark and myself, obviously we target to finish the race, ideally we want to finish 1-2. I think it's going to be an interesting race tomorrow."

  • 10:54

    TweetTweet from @redbullracing: Hamilton's grid position penalty means Seb & Mark will lock out the front row in P1 & P2 on the start line tomorrow #thatswhatimtalkingabout

  • 10:56

    Interview with Fernando Alonso: "I think it was a good qualifying for us, a good weekend so far. With Felipe yesterday on top of the times in free practice, and today not many problems in qualifying so for us, so far happy with the car.

    "Obviously being in front of Jenson is a nice surprise, because we are usually fifth on the grid, so being fourth is okay, and with Lewis' penalty, starting third tomorrow will be even better. Normally, our strongest points are on Sunday race pace, so starting third looks more optimistic for tomorrow."

  • 10:59

    Interview with Michael Schumacher: "Not very special, I would say. Started already Q1, traffic wasn't ideal for us. In the final moment, got already the vibration in the tyres. I don't know understand why we occasionally seem to have that - happened in Korea, happened now again. But, still, doesn't explain the difference to Nico, it's not only to be seen in the vibration.

    "Certainly something in how you prepare the tyres, especially in the first sector was pretty dominant, that's just acceleration and braking. There's not really anything to do with much of driving skills, actually the mid-sector where it's difficult has been all weekend very strong. We need to understand, and get on top of it, and it should be okay."

  • 11:01

    Interview with Paul di Resta: "Bit disappointed really. This morning was quite good, just struggled with a bit of understeer in the high speed, we couldn't really fix it in that session. I think conditions cooled a bit which didn't help us. We're in reasonable shape, I think, over long distances, but I think qualifying was going to be quite crucial and unfortunately we didn't maximise it.

    "I don't think it's evolved quite as much as we thought today. Yesterday, there was obviously a big evolution but we're not seeing too much other than that. It just seems to be everybody putting all their eggs in a basket, taking the fuel out and that's where you're seeing a lap time."

  • 11:03

    That's about all for qualifying today, then. It was an interesting session, although a little muted after the first session.

  • 11:03

    The second session certainly seemed to contain little pizazz, and sadly Massa's accident curtailed any chance of a fight for pole position. Not that there really was one.

  • 11:04

    There have been penalties galore, so keep your eyes on the grid as it will definitely change from where the guys qualifying today.

  • 11:04

    Vettel starts from pole, though, and will be looking for another win. If he can stay out of trouble tomorrow, it shouldn't be too big an ask, but at an unknown circuit, anything can happen.

  • 11:07

    Thanks for joining me today. I will be back tomorrow from 8:30 GMT to provide all the build up the race, I hope you'll be back with me then.

  • 11:08

    If you're in the UK, don't forget the clocks go back at 2am tomorrow. So, 2am becomes 1am, and then the race starts at 9:30. Don't miss it!

  • 11:08

    Stay safe, and on time, fact fans.

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