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Red Bull Back on Top As F1 Returns to Normality in Valencia

Patrick AllenAnalyst IJune 26, 2010

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 26:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing drives during the final practice session prior to qualifying for the European Formula One Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit on July 26, 2010, in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

I guess after all the excitement of Canada it was going to be very hard for this weekend to even come close. Indeed, the Valencia GP has quite a reputation for being one of the dullest tracks on the calendar.

There were some moments of interest, but the much promised closeness and tension simply never came.

 

Qualifying One

Regular fans of F1 will know by now how pointless the first session of qualifying has become. Yet again, the new teams locked out six of the seven knockout places making the first session a formality, and a boring one at that.

Jarno Trulli opened the proceedings by setting a slow 1:44:542. He was joined by faster times from the old guard, including the Ferraris and McLarens.

With about half of the session gone the positions were as follows:

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Jaime Alguersuari, Pedro de la Rossa, Sabastien Buemi, Kamui Kobayashi, Trulli, Heikki Kovalainen, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna, Timo Glock, Vitaly Petrov, Jarun Chandhok, Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichllo, Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, and Robert Kubica.

As you can see, many fast drivers were low down at this point, but this was only because they felt comfortable enough to wait a while before taking to the track.

Sure enough, just a few minutes later, the status quo had been returned as the new teams now locked out the bottom six places.

We did get some excitement from the downfall of a previous great. Schumacher slipped slowly down the standings until he found himself in a dangerous P17 with minutes to go.

Seconds later, after faster Sauber times, the seven-time World Champion was in P18 and not lapping particularly well.

I will admit this was close, but when Schumacher did find some time and launched up to P12 (at the expense of Kobayashi), I felt more disappointed than excited.

Q1 Top Three: Kubica, Vettel, and Alonso.

Out: Kobayashi, Trulli, Koalainen, di Grassi, Glock, Chandhok, and Senna.

 

Qualifying Two

Massa set the pace in the second session with a 1:38:591, but he was quickly beaten by faster times from Alonso and Hamilton.

At this stage we learnt that Schumacher was suffering from some sort of technical issue which went some way to explaining his poor form.

With eight minutes to go, the positions were changing a lot, but I did manage to copy down the standings in a brief moment!

Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Hulkenberg, Petrov, Barrichello, Buemi, Sutil, Liuzzi, de la Rossa, Alguersuari, Schumacher, Rosberg, and Kubica.

Fear not, Kubica fans, the Renault man had driven well in Q1 and was quick to get himself up to P3 once he joined the session.

There was nothing else hugely exciting to report really. The Mercedes team simply was  not fast enough, and neither was Force India. This will come as a huge embarrassment for both teams, but more so for Mercedes who expected much from an upgrade package.

Still, these poor performances gave both Williams and Renault a real chance to shine in the nest session.

Q2 results: Vettel, Webber, and Massa.

Out: Buemi, Rosberg, Sutil, Liuzzi, Schumacher, de la Rossa, and Alguersuari.

 

Qualifying Three

Throughout the qualifying build up and the first two sessions, the likes of Jake Humphry and Jonathon Ledgard had been promising an exciting and close battle for P1, whilst the wise old fox Martin Brundell had been quietly emphasising the strong opinion amongst paddock experts that Red Bull would blitz the opposition.

When it came to Q3, the experts were right!

Button set the first time of 1:38:314, but he was soon knocked down by Hamilton and Webber.

After all 10 drivers had set a time, (with just three minutes left), the positions were as follows:

Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Hulkenberg, Massa, Alosno, Petrov, Kubica, and Barrichello.

I’d love to report a frantic rush to the chequered flag, but it simply didn’t happen. Williams and Petrov fought well, but were never in contention. Kubica seemed to lose his mojo and the Ferraris just didn’t deliver.

Vettel shot to P1 and it looked as if Webber would be joining him. It fell to the McLarens to do anything to stop yet another Red Bull pole. When it came to it though, Button wasn’t fast enough and Hamilton made a small mistake which could have cost him third place.

So there you go, another flat qualifying session and if anything the race will be worse.

Valencia is unquestionably one of the worst venues on the calendar and was only really helped last year by fuel strategy.

Ferrari and Mercedes promised improvement, but none came. McLaren changed little but failed to impress, and Red Bull? Well they quietly got on with it in the background.

My prediction for tomorrow? A Red Bull procession. There aren’t any huge names out of position and with an expected lack of overtaking, I don’t expect much from the likes of Alonso and Hamilton.

Of course I could be proved wrong but I just don’t think these new flashy venues do anything for the sport.

 

Final Qualifying Results

1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:37.587

2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:37.662

3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.969

4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:38.075

5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.127

6 Robert Kubica Renault 1:38.137

7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.210

8 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.428

9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.428

10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:38.523

11 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:38.586

12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:38.627

13 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.851

14 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.884

15 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:39.234

16 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.264

17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:39.458

18 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.343

19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.658

20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.882

21 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.086

22 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.140

23 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:42.600

24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:42.851

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