|10||2||Webber||Red Bull||1:21.264||1:20.503||No time||13|
|18||14||Di Resta||Force India||1:22.043||11|
|20||21||Van der Garde||Caterham||1:23.333||7|
|Q1 107% Time||1:25.974|
With just over an hour to go to qualifying at the Hungaroring, there is no clear favourite for pole position. That’s quite unusual for 2013, a season in which all of the 9 pole positions so far have been taken by Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton (evenly shared with 3 each).
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber set the pace on Friday for Red Bull, but did not feature at the front in FP3 this morning. That in itself is not an indication of a lack of pace – they could simply have been running more fuel than their rivals – but it does raise the question: have they sacrificed qualifying pace in favour of race pace, perhaps assuming qualifying supremacy beyond what is realistic?
In FP3, Romain Grosjean topped the times with the fastest lap of the weekend so far, 1:20.730, half a second quicker than Vettel went yesterday. Grosjean is looking perhaps a little bit quicker than team-mate Kimi Raikkonen this weekend, at least on short runs. Raikkonen’s strength this season has been his race pace, which is quite difficult to gauge in practice. Lotus are, nonetheless, in the hunt for pole position. Grosjean has never had a pole position in F1, and Raikkonen has yet to top qualifying since he returned to the sport at the start of 2012. Can they break those two ducks today?
Ferrari are also looking quick. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have both been within a few tenths of the front-runners throughout the weekend. Massa did not appear to get the maximum out of his Ferrari in FP3, but Alonso was on top of his car as ever. He set the second fastest time in FP3, just 0.168 seconds behind Grosjean, and will be looking to carry that speed into this afternoon’s qualifying session.
The big question mark for qualifying is over Mercedes. Both drivers struggled in Friday practice, but Lewis Hamilton seemed to have rediscovered his confidence this morning after some overnight setup changes. He set the quickest time in FP3 on medium tyres, but could not hold onto the top spot when the soft tyres went on. Could Mercedes have been hiding more pace in Hamilton’s car? He went just 8 tenths quicker on the soft tyres, while those around him improved by over a second in many cases. It could be that Mercedes know they have found some speed in Hamilton’s car, but they are choosing to hide it until it counts in this afternoon’s qualifying session.
A pole-sitter from any team other than Red Bull, Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes would be a massive surprise. The top four teams are sufficiently far ahead of the rest to be quite sure of front-row dominance. But it is close at the front. Any one of the 8 drivers from the top four teams could be on pole in Hungary.
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:21.125||0.395||27|
|7||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull||1:21.254||0.524||17|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:21.519||0.789||20|
|13||14||Paul di Resta||Force India||1:21.963||1.233||21|
|15||19||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||1:22.180||1.450||18|
|16||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:22.423||1.693||19|
|18||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham||1:23.975||3.245||21|
|22||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||No time||2|
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:21.264||34|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:21.308||0.044||42|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:22.304||1.040||41|
|11||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:22.526||1.262||39|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:25.065||3.801||36|
Davide Valsecchi has been announced as the Lotus team’s third driver for the 2013 season. The 26 year old Italian was Team Lotus (now Caterham) test driver in 2011, and made his F1 weekend debut at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix when he replaced Heikki Kovalainen for the first Friday practice session. He then went on to win the GP2 championship in 2012 and tested for Lotus at the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last season, impressing the management and engineers sufficiently to secure a more permanent role with the team.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said, “… we have tested Davide during our Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi, so we could have a clear picture about what he is capable of and what he is doing… I think he did perform well, but not only performing, he did the job the engineer was expecting him to do, so that was a clear tick in the box.”
“I’m really happy that the team want me on board and I’m excited about the future,” Valsecchi said. “I hope that this is a really good start to a career in Formula 1.
“Every day I will do the very best job that I can to give Lotus F1 Team the same passion and commitment that I showed last year. My last season in GP2 in 2012 was something I really focussed on, and in the end I succeeded. Now in Formula 1 my target will be a little different, but my focus to do the very best is still the same.
“I very much hope, step by step, to get into Formula 1 as a race driver, and being here as third driver is as near as you can get. It’s a great opportunity here – If I do the best job I can this year then it will open up my chances for the future, and we’ll see if I’m good enough.”
The Lotus driver line-up seems to be continually expanding – Valsecchi is now the team’s third driver, joining current reserve driver Jerome d’Ambrosio, development driver Nicolas Prost and race drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean to bring the number of drivers at the team to five. With testing limited to just 12 days in the pre-season and only some limited straight-line testing during the season, the three non-race drivers are unlikely to spend much time in the E21 that was unveiled yesterday.
Lotus are set to be the first team to launch a 2013 Formula One car. The new Lotus, named the E21, will be revealed in an online launch on 28 January 2013 at 19:15 GMT. The launch can be watched live on the Lotus F1 Team YouTube channel.
The E21 will be powered by a Renault 2.4 litre V8 engine, and raced by Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Based on the team’s 2012 form – Raikkonen finished third in the drivers’ championship and Lotus came fourth in the constructors’ championship – this should be a competitive car. How good the new car is will begin to become clear when testing gets underway in Jerez, Spain on 5 February, but the real pecking order will not be known until the first race in Melbourne on 17 March.
In terms of appearance, the E21 car is likely to do away with the stepped nose that characterised the 2012 cars, as new regulations permit the teams to cover the step. The black and gold livery, which has been on the cars for the last two seasons, is likely to be retained. Most of the aero development will be focused on the rear end of the car, where the exhaust exits will be designed to direct the hot exhaust gases towards aerodynamic pieces around the rear floor. Those changes will deliver performance, but will not be visible to the casual observer, particularly when the cars are at speed. The most noticeable change will be the smooth nose.
Lotus have already fired up the engine in the E21 in preparation for the launch and start of testing. The sound of the engine being fired up for the first time can be heard here.
The schedule of launches (as revealed so far) and testing can be found here.