Well, what the hell can I say! After all that good work yesterday Brawn GP’s star drivers, particularly Jenson Button, have looked anything but potential Champions today!
My worst fears were realised when I learned that Jens had indeed struggled throughout final practice with a poor set up (rather than my prediction that the team were quietly testing). However, the news gets worse for Brawn fans!
Rubens had to change his gear box which gave him a five place penalty for Sunday. This was actually a good bit of strategy from Brawn on paper (as Rubens was fast anyway and of the next three races, this would be the best to take a five place dive).
However, in reality Rubens did extremely well just to scrape into Q3 and frankly if he hadn’t hit the wall at the end of the final session (thus messing up Rosberg and Vettel) he would have finished far lower than he eventually did!
Anyway, on with the qualifying.
Alguersuari was out first and set a time of 1:50:169, five minutes in. Both Brawns were slightly nervous about their struggles going into the session, so both were out quickly.
Rubens set his first time of 1:51:289 (P6) and Jens set his of 1:48:632 (P1). Rubens was going very quickly on his second lap and quickly knabbed P1 from his team mate with a 1:47:939.
However, Rubens was in turn quickly dispatched by Rosberg, then Vettel and finally Hamilton. Jens had fallen back a bit but a nice lap of 1:47:559 put him up to P3.
With five minutes left, Hamilton was first, Jens was P4 and Rubens, P7. In testing there had been a wide gap between front row and back but neither Brawn felt secure and so both returned to the track.
Jenson did his job and shot up to P2 with a 1:47:180. Meanwhile Rubens dropped to P13, then 14 and then P15! The pressure was on but thankfully the Brazilian found at least some speed and got himself through with a 1:47:397 (P6).
JB: P2: 1:47:180
RB: P6: 1:47:397
Sutil, Alguersuari, Fisichella, Grosjean, Liuzi
This time Vettel led the pack out and set a first time of 1:51:995. He was quickly followed by Jenson on the super soft tyres who set a pole time of 1:47:412.
Rubens looked great early on too when his first time of 1:47:126 stuck him in P1. The title challenger’s time on top was short lived though as first Webber and then a phenomenally quick Rosberg took P1. Rosberg had been on fire and smashed in a 1:46:197, excellent stuff from a driver I both rate and like.
My early confidence in BGP had been misplaced, as with 8 minutes left Rubens was in P8 and Jenson, P11!
Just three horribly tense minutes later Jens was now P13 and Rubens P10! Both Brawns were out and putting in personal bests, but these times were barley good enough to survive.
Jens passed the line with a 1:47:141 which put him…….NO! P11! A combination of poor set up and frankly poor driving from Jens left the Brit with just one lap left on tyres that had already seen better days.
As Jenson simply floundered and failed to make the cut, Rubens actually pulled his finger out and put in a super special 1:46:787. This lap was by no means special because of the place it gave Rubes (P6), what made it special was the fact that he had actually made it through despite all of the pressure and traffic. Well done Rubens and Jenson, well, there’s nothing more I can say.
RB: P6: 1:46:787
JB: P12: 1:47:141
Nakajima, Button, Raikkonen, Buemi, Trulli
Whiz kid Rosberg opened the final session and as I gathered up my note pad and pen (which had been thrown in disgust across the room!) the young German crossed the line with a 1:48:348.
Rubens’s first time was a 1:48:828 which was a P3 time at this stage. However, after all ten cars had completed their laps, Hamilton was first with a 1:47:891 and Rubens was now in P5.
Everyone rejoined the action and Q3 was really shaping up for something special. Hamilton had set the pace but both Red Bulls were fast and Rosberg was on a major charge.
But, with just 29 seconds left the session was red flagged as Rubens crashed out by shunting with a barrier. Hamilton, I believe was lucky to get P1 and I felt most sorry for Rosberg whose lap was ruined.
In actual fact Rubens’s crash had done him a favour as he would almost certainly have slipped down the ranks if the session hadn’t been stopped all together. So Rubens was a lucky boy but his mechanics will not be best pleased!
To be honest with you I’m not sure what to write in conclusion. Rubens actually did pretty well when all said and done. He scrapped into Q3 and will start from P10 which is disappointing and doesn’t help his title hopes, but he is ahead of Jens and that’s all he can do right now.
Jenson on the other hand…well I have defended and will continue to defend my F1 hero until the day he retires. However, I have absolutely nothing to say in his defense today. The set up went wrong in P3 yes, but he clearly let his nerves get the best of him in Q2. Of course he is only human……but some humans are Champions and others……well they throw it away.
This is a circuit that Jenson really needs to do well at as Rubens looks good for at least Brazil, and of course those Red Bulls aren’t out until it’s over. I still have faith in Jens and let's face it, he has nothing to lose tomorrow.
I will end on a positive note though. Fernando Alonso won last years race from P15……. :)