The terrible conditions that meant that there were only 13 minutes of practice in the morning, continued to cause problems for qualifying this afternoon.
When we finally did finish the day, after long delays due to dangerous conditions, I was simply left speechless.
Rubens did a mammoth job and thoroughly deserves his pole position. As for Jenson, well, those of you who have read my stuff before know what I think of him, but after today, I just can’t say anything really. A terrible, terrible performance.
The track was wet, the sky was dark, but the session began on time and was led by Vettel. Jens was out early too but Rubens was strangely staying in the pits.
Vettel set the first time of 1:39:694 but his lap had been tense. Just over five minutes in the session was red flagged when Fisichella aqua-planed and then stalled when exiting turn one. Initially we thought the red flag was due to Fisi’s off, but it later became clear that the session was ended because of the dangerous conditions.
At this time only seven cars had set times and Jenson was in a net P13, Rubens, P19! At this stage many commentators were commending the likes of Vettel for going out early and at least getting a time set. However, the fortunes of the young German were about to plummet!
The session restarted at 14:18 local time and this time Hamilton led the pack out. The conditions were marginally better, but the drivers looked less than comfortable out on track.
Hamilton set a time of 1:27:473 which was over 12 seconds faster than Vettel’s time. This did show a marked improvement and many drivers pushed that little bit harder.
Rubens was initially strong which was encouraging after his slowness in practice. The Brazilian’s first lap was impressive, but his second was better as he now sat in P2.
Jens was more reserved in his start. The Brit put in an initial P7 time before climbing to P4 and then setting a time of 1:24:930 to claim P3.
Just as they had in final practice, the Williams then began to dominate and locked out P1 and P2.
The rain began to fall more heavily again with just under seven minutes left, but the big news was that Vettel was out and struggling. The German title challenger was having immense trouble with his dry set up and simply couldn’t push hard enough. I personally think he should be commended for staying on the track.
Jenson meanwhile had fallen to P11, but a 1:24:297 got him safely back up to P4. With five soggy minutes left, Rubens was up to P5 and Jenson was in P6.
Brawn’s luck really came to life when two of their biggest threats simply couldn’t cope with the conditions. Hamilton struggled to even stay on the track and aqua-planed off in turn five, whilst Vettel’s charge was not enough. Both drivers returned to the pits without finishing their last laps.
As the rain fell harder still the session finished with Rubens and Jens in pretty good positions, and their biggest threat furious in P16.
RB: P5: 1:24:100
JB: P5: 1:24:297
Vettel, Kovalainen, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Fisichella.
After long delays Q2 began at 14:56 and was overshadowed not only by the black clouds but the raised eyebrows of many drivers and commentators. The conditions simply weren’t safe enough and although Jens and Rubens were out on track early, nobody managed to set a time before Luizzi aqua-planed off at turn one. The Italian’s car was wrecked and the session was red flagged just three minutes in!
The session was finally restarted at 16:00 local time and Rosberg led the pack out. With nine minutes left Rosberg set his first time of 1:21:815.
Rubens’s first time was a 1:22:777 which put him in P4. Jenson had gone for a steady first lap and started Q2 in P8. The Brit then dropped to P11 before clawing his way up to P10.
The Williams team were the first to take the risk of fitting intermediate tyres with six minutes left, but the other teams soon followed suit.
Rubens meanwhile had impressively got up to P3 whilst Jenson floundered around P10. Then came what may well prove to be a championship changing moment.
Rubens came into the pits and fitted the inters whilst Jenson stayed out. Jenson made absolutely no improvement and simply wasn’t fast enough. He could only manage P14 with a 1:22:704.
It is important to stress that Rubens didn’t exactly sprint into Q3. The Brazilian limped across the line to finish in P10 right on the edge but that was all he needed to do.
RB: P10: 1:21:659
JB: P14: 1:22:704
Kobayashi, Alguersuari, Grosjean, Jenson, Liuzzi
Webber led the pack out for qualifying three but it was Buemi who looked fastest initially. Rubens put in a first time of 1:25:791, which gave him P4, but he looked like he was on a mission.
The Brazilian shot to P1 with a 1:21:167, but soon dropped down to P6 after great laps from other drivers including Rosberg, Trulli, and Webber. Rubens was not giving up though and with the Brazilian fans serving as his KERS button he thrashed his BGP around the track like a white stallion!
Rubens took pole, only to be knocked off by Webber, but then Rubens went even faster!
He eventually crossed the line with a 1:19:576 and it was pretty much a 'they think it’s all over...'it is now' moment!
Rubens Barrichello claimed his first pole position in five years, and what a critical one it may prove to be. He was absolutely awesome in Q3 and I think he thoroughly deserved his final position.
Meanwhile a likely gearbox change for Luizzi will promote Vettel to P15, just one place behind Jenson. I really don’t know how to conclude this article as primarily a Jenson fan...but a Brawn fanatic.
If you ask me, Jenson has done nothing to prove his critics wrong in the last few grand prix weekends. He complained of understeer after Q2 but I feel he should have gone for those inters. Sure, he has pulled out strong performances on Sundays, but his Saturday pace has cost him countless chances to wrap up the title. Where the bloody hell has his mojo gone!!??
Rubens on the other hand has really found something in recent weeks and he is the man to stop now. Of course I can’t predict a result tomorrow with all the weather issues today. However, I can categorically conclude that Rubens has done way more than he needed to, and Jenson has well and truly shot himself in the foot...with a bloody rocket!
Hey, at least Bernie will get his grand finale...