Hamilton misses best pole position chance yet

2011 Japanese GP qualifying analysis

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Suzuka, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Suzuka, 2011

Lewis Hamilton was provisionally on pole position – before missing out on his final timed lap at the end of Q3.

Given the gains Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button made with their last efforts, Hamilton may well have missed out on his best chance for pole position so far this the year.

Here’s all the data from qualifying.

Qualifying times in full

  • Both Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel found nearly a second between their Q2 and Q3 runs thanks to the track gaining grip as it cleaned up and more rubber went down.
  • But Hamilton gained just half a second as he failed to set a time when the track conditions were at their best – and he was only two-tenths of a second away from pole.
  • Hamilton said the result shows McLaren have made progress with their car: “We?ve definitely shown an improvement: to be so close at a high-speed circuit like this means we?re doing well. It?s very encouraging, because if we?d had this car at the beginning of the season, I think the championship could have been a different story.”
  • Nico Rosberg failed to reach Q3 for the first time this year. Now only the McLaren and Ferrari drivers, plus Sebastian Vettel, have done so in all 15 events.
Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’33.051 1’31.424 (-1.627) 1’30.466 (-0.958)
2 Jenson Button McLaren 1’32.947 1’31.434 (-1.513) 1’30.475 (-0.959)
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’32.843 1’31.139 (-1.704) 1’30.617 (-0.522)
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’33.235 1’31.909 (-1.326) 1’30.804 (-1.105)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’32.817 1’31.612 (-1.205) 1’30.886 (-0.726)
6 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’33.135 1’31.576 (-1.559) 1’31.156 (-0.420)
7 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’32.626 1’32.380 (-0.246)
8 Bruno Senna Renault 1’33.359 1’32.297 (-1.062)
9 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’32.877 1’32.245 (-0.632)
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’33.748 1’32.116 (-1.632)
11 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’32.761 1’32.463 (-0.298)
12 Paul di Resta Force India 1’33.499 1’32.746 (-0.753)
13 Rubens Barrichello Williams 1’33.921 1’33.079 (-0.842)
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’33.781 1’33.224 (-0.557)
15 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1’33.064 1’33.227 (+0.163)
16 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1’35.111 1’33.427 (-1.684)
17 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’34.704
18 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’35.454
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1’35.514
20 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1’36.439
21 Timo Glock Virgin 1’36.507
22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1’37.846
23 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
24 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT

Team mate comparisons

Compare the best times of each team’s drivers in the last part of qualifying in which they both set a time.

  • Felipe Massa out-qualified Fernando Alonso for the third time in 15 attempts this year.
  • Jerome d’Ambrosio did likewise to Timo Glock.
  • And the same happened at Mercedes with Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg as well – though Schumacher was aided by Rosberg being unable to set a time.
Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Round
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’30.466 -0.690 1’31.156 Mark Webber Q3
McLaren Lewis Hamilton 1’30.617 +0.142 1’30.475 Jenson Button Q3
Ferrari Fernando Alonso 1’30.886 +0.082 1’30.804 Felipe Massa Q3
Renault Bruno Senna 1’32.297 +0.052 1’32.245 Vitaly Petrov Q2
Williams Rubens Barrichello 1’33.079 -0.145 1’33.224 Pastor Maldonado Q2
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’32.463 -0.283 1’32.746 Paul di Resta Q2
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 1’33.227 -0.200 1’33.427 Jaime Alguersuari Q2
Lotus Heikki Kovalainen 1’35.454 -0.060 1’35.514 Jarno Trulli Q1
Virgin Timo Glock 1’36.507 +0.068 1’36.439 Jerome D’Ambrosio Q1

Sector times

Here are the drivers? best times in each sector.

  • Unusually, Vettel took pole position despite not being the fastest driver in any of the three sectors.
Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel 32.224 (4) 40.697 (2) 17.545 (2)
Jenson Button 32.177 (3) 40.695 (1) 17.603 (4)
Lewis Hamilton 32.149 (2) 40.907 (4) 17.561 (3)
Felipe Massa 32.268 (5) 40.905 (3) 17.631 (5)
Fernando Alonso 32.443 (6) 40.975 (5) 17.468 (1)
Mark Webber 32.111 (1) 41.312 (6) 17.648 (6)
Kamui Kobayashi 32.870 (9) 41.611 (9) 17.899 (11)
Michael Schumacher 33.109 (12) 41.341 (7) 17.666 (7)
Bruno Senna 32.660 (7) 41.623 (10) 18.014 (15)
Vitaly Petrov 32.706 (8) 41.697 (12) 17.718 (8)
Adrian Sutil 33.005 (11) 41.556 (8) 17.902 (12)
Paul di Resta 33.176 (13) 41.645 (11) 17.925 (14)
Rubens Barrichello 33.232 (15) 41.977 (14) 17.870 (10)
Pastor Maldonado 33.325 (17) 42.090 (16) 17.809 (9)
Sebastien Buemi 32.994 (10) 41.994 (15) 17.921 (13)
Jaime Alguersuari 33.273 (16) 41.968 (13) 18.038 (16)
Sergio Perez 33.199 (14) 42.565 (17) 18.351 (20)
Heikki Kovalainen 34.329 (19) 43.070 (18) 18.055 (17)
Jarno Trulli 34.124 (18) 43.122 (19) 18.268 (18)
Jerome D’Ambrosio 34.658 (20) 43.414 (21) 18.351 (20)
Timo Glock 34.780 (21) 43.399 (20) 18.328 (19)
Daniel Ricciardo 35.205 (22) 43.930 (22) 18.583 (22)

Speed trap

Here are the drivers? maximum speeds.

  • Fernando Alonso was the fastest driver by a clear 3kph, suggesting he may have picked up a tow on one of his laps.
Pos Driver Car Speed (kph) Gap
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 311.0
2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 307.9 -3.1
3 Bruno Senna Renault 307.6 -3.4
4 Vitaly Petrov Renault 307.2 -3.8
5 Mark Webber Red Bull 306.8 -4.2
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 306.5 -4.5
7 Pastor Maldonado Williams 306.2 -4.8
8 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 306.1 -4.9
9 Jenson Button McLaren 306.1 -4.9
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 305.6 -5.4
11 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 305.1 -5.9
12 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 304.3 -6.7
13 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 302.8 -8.2
14 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 302.5 -8.5
15 Paul di Resta Force India 302.1 -8.9
16 Timo Glock Virgin 301.2 -9.8
17 Rubens Barrichello Williams 300.9 -10.1
18 Sergio Perez Sauber 300.6 -10.4
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 300.0 -11.0
20 Adrian Sutil Force India 299.9 -11.1
21 Daniel Ricciardo HRT 295.8 -15.2
22 Jarno Trulli Lotus 294.3 -16.7
23 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 291.8 -19.2
24 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 221.4 -89.6

2011 Japanese Grand Prix

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58 comments on Hamilton misses best pole position chance yet

  1. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 8th October 2011, 22:13

    I’m very confused about the grid order from 7th to 10th..the BBC have Schumacher ahead of the Renaults whereas you have Schumacher down as P10..and on top of that, when the results came up at the end of quali, on the TV it had Kobayashi as P10…Very confusing. Can somebody please clarify this.

    • James_mc (@james_mc) said on 8th October 2011, 23:03

      I’m not sure why the BBC put Schumacher ahead of Kobayashi, I presume as he had an out-lap and then an in-lap. Kobayashi was then put ahead as he had attempted a flying lap but apparently Schumacher had not

  2. Coolbreeze (@coolbreeze) said on 8th October 2011, 22:28

    He can’t catch a break can he, barring any mistakes pole was his, he is always 2 -3 tenths quicker than Button, I was livid, we could of finally had something other than a redbull on poll. We could be in for a legendary race though.

  3. Rlewis said on 9th October 2011, 0:49

    Kind of strange, there has been quite a bit of confusion at Mclaren of late, but is seems to come down to a real lack of focus during event. or a change in communication style. the strange thing is, many on this site believe that the car has great pace for an entire race, and not just near the end. They could be right, but it has not shown up in the results. There is also a belief that Hamilton is out making mistakes for reasons other than trying to get more out of the car than what is there. And, if he just did things differently he could be on pole. Well, if the car is so great, and he is so bad with it, then Jenson should have easily been on pole by now, that is considering that he is doing such a fabulous job with the car.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 9th October 2011, 5:32

      Jenson’s driven well, but that’s been flatteredd by the awful season Hamilton’s having. That car should have challenged for pole at Hungary, Belgium and Italy, as well as the win in the latter two, but errors, underperformance, and bad starts from both Mclaren drivers have seen them not beat Vettel, who’s outdriving them both.

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