Formula 1 2011 is officially back in action with the first qualifying session of the season bringing plenty of drama, shock and entertainment.  Heidfeld took and an early exit, as did Rubens Barrichello.  Massa had a tricky time and Hamilton gave McLaren something to smile about.  Oh and Petrov is flying the flag for Lotus Renault – who’d have thought that 12 months ago!?

Petrov was too quick for the cameras - image: Lotus Renault Media/LAT

Qualifying Round One

Oh dear, Ferrari and Felipe Massa narrowly avoided a disasterous start to the season until a last moment quick lap took Felipe to 11th.  As a result, Nick Heidfeld in the Renault was the first ‘big name’ to drop out of qualifying and join the Virgin, Lotus and Hispania cars.

Thanks to the reintroduction of the 107% rule, Hispania may well not be allowed to race on Sunday with their quickest times being more than 107% of the quickest time.  Renault now have to rely on Vitaly Petrov to bring home some points for the team on Sunday unless Nick can live up to his name (Quick Nick Heidfeld) and do something amazing for the grand prix.

POSDRIVERTEAMBESTDIFF (to P1 in Q1)LAPS
18Nick HeidfeldRenault1'27.2391.94310
19H.KovalainenLotus1'29.2543.95810
20Jarno TrulliLotus1'29.3424.04612
21Timo GlockVirgin1'29.8584.56210
22J.D'AmbrosioVirgin1'30.8225.5268
23Vitantonio LiuzziHRT1'32.9787.68211
24N.KarthikeyanHRT1'34.2938.99711

Qualifying Round Two

Michael Schumacher’s return to Formula 1 just doesn’t get any easier for him – he tried and gave it is all, but failed to make the pole position shoot out with his time leaving him 11th.  Ex-teammate Rubens Barrichello will be rueing a mistake on his first lap of Q2 where he mis-judged the braking point into turn 3 and buried his Williams in the gravel – an unusal error for the most experienced driver on the grid.

Toro Rosso and Sauber will be chuffed with each of them having a driver in the final round of qualifying, joining both Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari drivers along with Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov.

POSDRIVERTEAMBESTDIFF (to best in Q2)LAPS
11M.SchumacherMercedes1'25.9711.8818
12J.AlguersuariToro Rosso1'26.1032.0137
13Sergio PerezSauber1'26.1082.0184
14Paul Di RestaForce India1'26.7392.6496
15Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1'26.7682.6787
16Adrian SutilForce India1'31.4077.3176
17R.BarrichelloWilliams0na2

Qualifying Round Three – Pole Position Shootout

As everyone expected, Sebastian Vettel took his Red Bull to pole position in a worrying (for his rivals) fashion with a time that saw him nearly a whole second faster than Mark Webber.  Lewis Hamilton managed to get his McLaren up to second place to split the Red Bulls with his team mate just behind Webber in 4th.  Jenson started from 4th and won last year, he’ll be looking to try and recreate that on Sunday.

Vettel No.1 again... image: Red Bull/Getty

 

Petrov has taken full advantage of the rather rapid Renault o secure 6th, just behind Alonso and ahead of Nico Rosberg.  Massa, Kobayashi and Buemi complete the top 10 for Sunday.  The first couple of laps are going to be very interesting and it will interesting to see if Vettel’s stunning qualifying performance translates into him taking the top step of the podium in 24hrs time…

POSDRIVERTEAMBESTDIFFLAPS
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull1'23.5296
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren1'24.3070.7786
3Mark WebberRed Bull1'24.3950.8666
4Jenson ButtonMcLaren1'24.7791.256
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'24.9741.4454
6Vitaly PetrovRenault1'25.2471.7183
7Nico RosbergMercedes1'25.4211.8926
8Felipe MassaFerrari1'25.5992.073
9Kamui KobayashiSauber1'25.6262.0975
10Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso1'27.0663.5374