Hungarian GP 2016
JULY 23, 2016
Qualifying Report - Red Rain & Yellow Flags
By Dan Knutson in Budapest
Rain and red flags were the story of the Qualifying 1 session for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The session was stopped four times because of the heavy rain and accidents.
The story at the end of qualifying, however, was Nico Rosberg who sneaked in to grab the pole in his Mercedes while other drivers had to abort their laps after Fernando Alonso spun his McLaren. But did Rosberg slow down enough when the yellow flags came out? Apparently he did, because officials allowed his lap to stand.
The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Centigrade.)
The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen . Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.
A number of drivers had run wide at Turns 4 and 11 during the practice sessions. The FIA warned that there would be a "zero tolerance" policy in qualifying, and if any driver exceeded the track limits at these two turns, as judged by the timing loops installed there, his lap time would be deleted.
But, first, the cars and drivers had to get out on to the track. It was raining heavily before the start of qualifying, and so the officials delayed the start of the session for 20 minutes.
Q1, when it finally began, lasted 17 minutes. It has stopped raining but the track was still very wet. More heavy rain was expected soon, so the drivers needed to make their early laps count. Soon all 22 of the drivers on track, and they were using Pirelli's extreme wet weather tires with the blue sidewalls.
Just three minutes into the session, Vettel radioed that there was very heavy rain. The drivers had to deal with spray and traffic. The session was red flagged after three minutes and 52 seconds.
The top 10 at this stage were: Perez, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Nasr, Ricciardo, Bottas, Verstappen, Grosjean, Vettel and Palmer.
After a six minute delay, the session was restarted, and there were 13 minutes and 8 seconds remaining in Q1. It was still raining a bit, but the rain was expected to stop in about eight minutes.
Red flag two came out four minutes later when Ericsson crashed at Turn 10.
Now the top 10 were: Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Nasr, Hamilton and Bottas.
After an 11 minute delay, Q1 was restarted. Now there were nine minutes remaining. By now it had stopped raining.
Some of the drivers were on the extreme wets and others were on the intermediate rain tires. Massa, on the inters, crashed at Turn 4.
So, after three minutes, the session was red flagged again.
Now the top 10 were: Nasr, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Kvyat, Perez, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Raikkonen, Rosberg and Hamilton.
After a nine minute delay, Q1 was restarted. Now there were five minutes and 20 seconds remaining. Now all the drivers were on the inters except for Magnussen.
The times tumbled as the drivers raced around the drying track. Next, Haryanto crashed. Out came the red flags again after four minutes. As there was just one minute and 18 seconds remaining, the session was not restarted.
So, a session that was supposed to last 17 minutes took 71 minutes to complete.
The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP1 were: Palmer, Massa, Magnussen, Ericsson, Wehrlein and Haryanto.
The fastest 16 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Grosjean, Sainz, Kvyat, Raikkonen, Nasr, Button, Gutierrez, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez, Hulkenberg and Bottas.
The sun was shining as the 15-minute Q2 session began. The drivers were on the intermediate tires.
As the track dried the lap times got faster. All 16 drivers stayed out on the track where Ricciardo was quickest ahead of Hamilton and Rosberg.
Then, with less than eight minutes remaining, Bottas, who was 14th, came in for a set of the super soft slick tires. Hamilton others also made the switch. Bottas' split times proved he had made the correct decision, and he grabbed first place.
Alonso, Perez, Vettel, Alonso, Raikkonen, Sainz, Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg all took turns in the number one spot as the track dried before Verstappen grabbed it for good.
The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP2 were: Grosjean, Kvyat, Perez, Raikkonen, Gutierrez and Nasr.
The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Verstappen, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Vettel, Button, Bottas, Sainz and Hamilton. With two minutes remaining in the session Hamilton had been second, so the positions and lap times varied wildly in the final moments.
And so it was on to the final 12-minute shootout between the top 10.
Rosberg got things going with a lap of 1:20.499. Hamilton beat that with a 1:20.108. Ricciardo took third with a 1:20.659 despite almost losing control exiting the final corner. He still managed to beat Verstappen who was now fourth.
Rosberg improved to a 1:20.201 but stayed second.
Vettel waited five minutes to begin his flying lap. He had a huge moment exiting the final turn but kept control of the Ferrari. He was fifth behind Ricciardo and Verstappen.
The order was now: Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel, Alonso, Button, Sainz, Hulkenberg and Bottas.
With two minutes remaining in Q1, the drivers headed out for one last run. But then Alonso spun, so there was a yellow flag zone which forced the drivers to slow down.
Rosberg, however, improved to a 1:19.965 to take the pole.
The top 10 qualifiers were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel, Sainz, Alonso, Button, Hulkenberg and Bottas.
Not a single driver in any session exceeded the track limits at Turns 4 and 11.