Rosberg pips Massa to fifth on grid (Korean Grand Prix qualifying analysis)

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Korea, 2010

Felipe Massa blamed traffic after missing out on fifth place on the grid in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.

Meanwhile the Red Bull duo had a near-perfect end to the session, lapping within a tenth of a second of each other and setting their fastest times in all three sectors on their last laps.

Qualifying times in full

Massa was the only driver in the entire session who failed to improve from one part of qualifying to the next. His best lap in Q3 was four tenths of a second off his best in Q2.

What made life more difficult for Massa was that he ran soft tyres on both his efforts in Q2, while team mate Fernando Alonso ran hards followed by softs. That reduced Massa’s supply of fresh rubber for Q3.

Alonso said after the session the team had been how much performance they would get from the soft tyre, so perhaps Massa was given an extra soft tyre run while Alonso preserved his supply of soft tyres.

As in Suzuka, where Massa failed to reach Q3, he blamed traffic:

Unfortunately, I had a bit of traffic on the only run I did in Q3 on my last set of new soft tyres: a shame because the car was going well, but I was not able to get the most out of it.
Felipe Massa

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’37.123 1’36.074 (-1.049) 1’35.585 (-0.489)
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’37.373 1’36.039 (-1.334) 1’35.659 (-0.380)
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’37.144 1’36.287 (-0.857) 1’35.766 (-0.521)
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’37.113 1’36.197 (-0.916) 1’36.062 (-0.135)
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’37.708 1’36.791 (-0.917) 1’36.535 (-0.256)
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’37.515 1’36.169 (-1.346) 1’36.571 (+0.402)
7 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.123 1’37.064 (-1.059) 1’36.731 (-0.333)
8 Robert Kubica Renault 1’37.703 1’37.179 (-0.524) 1’36.824 (-0.355)
9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’37.980 1’37.077 (-0.903) 1’36.950 (-0.127)
10 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’38.257 1’37.511 (-0.746) 1’36.998 (-0.513)
11 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’38.115 1’37.620 (-0.495)
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.429 1’37.643 (-0.786)
13 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.171 1’37.715 (-0.456)
14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’38.572 1’37.783 (-0.789)
15 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’38.174 1’37.799 (-0.375)
16 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.583 1’37.853 (-0.730)
17 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.621 1’38.594 (-0.027)
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’38.955
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’40.521
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’40.748
21 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’41.768
22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’42.325
23 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1’42.444
24 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’43.283

Driver comparisons

The table below compares each pair of team mates at the point one or both of them were eliminated.

Once again the Red Bull duo were very closely matched (even more so in Q2 where Webber held the upper hand).

The gap between the Williams team mates was also small – just a tenth of a second – which was the difference between Rubens Barrichello making Q3 and Nico H???lkenberg missing it.

The variable track surface and cooler conditions than yesterday seemed to exaggerate the usual differences between some team mates: Lewis Hamilton had two-thirds of a second over Jenson Button, Alonso eight tenths over Massa.

Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Round
McLaren Jenson Button 1’36.731 +0.669 1’36.062 Lewis Hamilton Q3
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 1’36.950 +0.415 1’36.535 Nico Rosberg Q3
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’35.585 -0.074 1’35.659 Mark Webber Q3
Ferrari Felipe Massa 1’36.571 +0.805 1’35.766 Fernando Alonso Q3
Williams Rubens Barrichello 1’37.511 -0.109 1’37.620 Nico H???lkenberg Q2
Renault Robert Kubica 1’37.179 -0.620 1’37.799 Vitaly Petrov Q2
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’38.572 -0.383 1’38.955 Vitantonio Liuzzi Q1
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 1’38.594 +0.741 1’37.853 Jaime Alguersuari Q2
Lotus Jarno Trulli 1’40.521 -1.247 1’41.768 Heikki Kovalainen Q1
HRT Sakon Yamamoto 1’42.444 -0.839 1’43.283 Bruno Senna Q1
Sauber Nick Heidfeld 1’37.715 +0.072 1’37.643 Kamui Kobayashi Q2
Virgin Timo Glock 1’40.748 -1.577 1’42.325 Lucas di Grassi Q1

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap combined.

With the track conditions improving with every lap the best time to go out in qualifying was at the last possible moment. That’s exactly what the Red Bull drivers did and they reaped the rewards, both drivers setting their fastest times in all three sectors on their best laps.

Fernando Alonso blitzed the first sector on his first lap in Q3, covering it in 51.973s.

He wasn’t able to match that second time around but even if he had it wouldn’t have been enough to split the Red Bulls. When he said third place was the best on offer today, he was dead right.

Alonso achieved it despite being 6kph slower than the McLarens through the speed trap. It’s a reminder of how strong the Ferrari is under braking and in slow-corner traction, the key features which distinguish the first sector at Korea, along with its long straights.

While Massa couldn’t repeat his Q2 pace Nico Rosberg delivered a clean lap in his Mercedes, to within 0.012s of his combined best through the three sectors, to pinch fifth place off the Ferrari.

1’35.5851’35.6591’35.6821’36.0511’36.1251’36.5231’36.6271’36.7351’36.8811’36.9471’37.2541’37.5831’37.5991’37.7241’37.7261’37.7831’38.2721’38.3461’40.5211’40.7481’41.7681’42.0851’42.3841’42.866
Driver Car Ultimate lap Gap Deficit to best Actual position
1 5 Sebastian Vettel 0.000 1
2 6 Mark Webber 0.074 0.000 2
3 8 Fernando Alonso 0.097 0.084 3
4 2 Lewis Hamilton 0.466 0.011 4
5 7 Felipe Massa 0.540 0.446 6
6 4 Nico Rosberg 0.938 0.012 5
7 1 Jenson Button 1.042 0.104 7
8 11 Robert Kubica 1.150 0.089 8
9 3 Michael Schumacher 1.296 0.069 9
10 9 Rubens Barrichello 1.362 0.051 10
11 10 Nico H???lkenberg 1.669 0.366 11
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi 1.998 0.060 12
13 22 Nick Heidfeld 2.014 0.116 13
14 12 Vitaly Petrov 2.139 0.075 15
15 17 Jaime Alguersuari 2.141 0.127 16
16 14 Adrian Sutil 2.198 0.000 14
17 16 Sebastien Buemi 2.687 0.322 17
18 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi 2.761 0.609 18
19 18 Jarno Trulli 4.936 0.000 19
20 24 Timo Glock 5.163 0.000 20
21 19 Heikki Kovalainen 6.183 0.000 21
22 25 Lucas di Grassi 6.500 0.240 22
23 20 Sakon Yamamoto 6.799 0.060 23
24 21 Bruno Senna 7.281 0.417 24

2010 Japanese Grand Prix

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Image ?? Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo