Qualifying “not as crucial” – Horner

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Christian Horner thinks qualifying is less important in 2011.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Horner plays down qualifying impact (Setanta)

Mark [Webber’s] race demonstrates that, given the marked difference between new and used tyres and the greater ability to overtake, qualifying position is not as crucial. With a few more laps [in China] Mark would have won, and with a few laps less Sebastian [Vettel] would have won from pole.”

Senna races to the big screen (The Sun)

Another short clip from “Senna”.

Enjoy a career in the fast lane (Renault)

“With LRGP’s newly-launched Careers site, there are numerous opportunities to find the ideal position with LRGP.”

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Comment of the day

Lots of debate and discussion yesterday over Lotus’s plans for Caterham. JK sees the tie-up as a positive move:

What is so wrong with investment into a solid British brand to ensure its future, the plan is to increase over time the model line-up and its global appeal by using F1 as a promotional tool. The Aaterham name is not going to get dragged through the mud if anything it will cement the brand as what it is which just happens to be steeped in Lotus/Chapman heritage.

The link is uncanny but as Caterham contacted Tony first I don’t see that it was a strategic finger up to Lotus cars or anything to do with the court case; whether win or lose the Team Lotus name may disappear anyway due to all the bloody squabbling, but Fernandes said from the outset that going into F1 was a precursor to producing road cars at some point. It wasn’t the fault of Lotus Racing F1 that Lotus cars/Proton pulled the pin on the agreement they had.

From the forum

Todfod asks what is Red Bull’s secret?

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Russell G. and Varun!

On this day in F1

Jacques Villeneuve scored his first ever F1 win on this day 15 years ago.

He led home Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard with Williams team mate Damon Hill fourth.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Qualifying “not as crucial” – Horner”

  1. I don’t know about it being Group Lotus’ fault for the split (though it was convenient with Renault wanting to completely withdraw at the time – my guess is that had there not been another option GL would have just sued Fernandes over the merchandising row), but that’s some interesting information about Caterham being the instigators. I guess it’s hard not to be cynical in F1 these days!

  2. ralph schumacher
    28th April 2011, 2:19

    Why do people always say that ‘if the race was a few laps longer webber wound have won it’? Luckily championship points arent awarded based on who might have finished in what position had 5 extra laps been added.

    1. He’s saying that to illustrate a point about qualifying, not to talk webber up or suggest he ‘should’ have won it.

    2. But Horner is just making the point, that it was pretty close and a delicate balance you have to get strategy right on a race per race basis, instead of just going for pole and win from there.

      He takes the 5 laps more for Webber to win and 6 laps less would have seen Vettel winning from pole just to demonstrate that not to say Webber should have won that race.

      1. Bigbadderboom
        28th April 2011, 9:40

        I agree BasCB, the point Horner makes is that practice time is better spent understanding tyre wear at agiven track and then implementing an appropriate strategy. In effect he is saying Red Bull got theirs wrong, probably in search of qualifying pace they neglected to use more time understanding what will deliver a better race pace, managing their tyres. It’s obviously a lesson they will take forward. It may shake the grid up if the top teams start to sacrifice grid position for a better strategy with more tyres.

    3. It does seem to rest on the flawed assumption that Webber would not have needed yet another pit stop.

      1. And why would he need that? His tyres were in better condition than those of his nearest rivals.

        1. He only pitted 2 laps after Hamilton. And I expect Hamilton cruised to the finish. I doubt he could have overcome the deficit before his tyres were gone.

      2. Horner is also forgetting there’s a standard length of all non-Monaco Grand Prix.

        Plus, if it had been 5 laps longer for some reason, strategies would have been adjusted accordingly. Perhaps Vettel would also have been on 3 stops as well. Perhaps Hamilton would have taken his time in passing Vettel and not taken as much life out of his tyres, if Webber had been a threat.

      3. Actually looking at lap times Webbers paced had started to fall drastically those tires would not have worked at a competitive level for another 5 laps to close in and overtake. If one judge from his previous stints and the falloff we saw there this is definitely the case as well so it was just not that he was saving fuel or engine and just pacing himself. At least this is what I read into the times he was doing and the amount of laps done when comparing his times with earlier stints.

  3. To me Jacques Villeneuve is the least deserving F1 WC.Well after the race of Webber if you can get into Q2 with hard tyres then fail to go beyond that & have three sets of soft for the race then for sure you are in a prime position to be on the podium.

    1. Last Pope Eye (@)
      28th April 2011, 5:01


      He won the WDC by driving an F1 race car not by a bicycle or piloting and F16. He really “fully” deserved it. He’s a world champion and nobody can take it away from him.

      1. Last Pope Eye (@)
        28th April 2011, 5:02

        *an F16

      2. Nothing but to me I think Villeneuve other then winning a WC haven’t achieved anything else in F1.When you compare him with the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher & Raikkonen & many others of those 31 who have won the WC, many of them have something especial in them, so by seeing their driving you become a fan. But so far (may be I am wrong) I haven’t came across any F1 fan here or anywhere who said he was or is a fan of JV.

        Surely I can’t take away his WC but so far as many races I have seen him driving I don’t find that X factor in him so that’s why I wanted to say how he became a WC with those potential?

        1. Actually Villeneuve was (possibly still is!) a pretty special driver. When he came into F1 he was one of those who have that extra level of car control and could throw the car around, dancing it on the edge of crashing. Like Hamilton, Senna, Jim Clark or Alonso. There’s a famous clip of him basically drifting the ’96 car through the narrow corner into the pit straight at Monaco: Patrick Head said at the time (possibly not referring to that precise incident) that he loved seeing someone take the car by the scruff of the neck like that.

          It’s fair enough that say that he (and Hill in ’96!) made the most of having a very good car at a time when Ferrari and McLaren weren’t quite on top form, but after ’97 he was never in a competitive car again – the ’98 Williams was under powered and we all know about the BAR/Honda years.

          1. I never saw Villeneuves glory years in the late nineties. But I loved him for his character after that. Just like Montoya he wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind. We need drivers like that, not the PR machine nice guys the grid is full of now.

        2. Well, then, here is a JV fan, especially for you :) probably the no. 1 reason why I started watching F1 back in ’97 was the fight between Villeneuve and Schumacher, and I was rooting for JV from the start, with him being my favourite driver all the way to his very last race in 2006. And although my becoming a fan of his didn’t have a lot to do with either his talent or his results, one has to admit he did set some very impressive records early on, like taking pole in his very first GP, winning his fourth one or outqualifying his teammate by 1.7 seconds in Melbourne in ’97. And to my mind, he did put in some standout drives even after that – Spain ’99 or Canada ’00 come to mind. OK, so maybe on balance he wasn’t one of the best drivers ever, but he was pretty far from being a poor one and even further from being an undeserved champ (that expression, by the way, makes no sense whatsoever…)

          1. I used to be a fan of JV as well. But for me that started in his Indy years, seeing him there as the super rookie was amazing.

            After going with BAR he showed some nice gutsy drivers, but somehow the fire was gone a bit.

    2. WasiF1 that makes no sense.

      You are saying that qualifying the best you can on hards and finishing in Q2 puts in you ‘rime position to be o the podium’.

      What if several teams do it? The podium isn’t big enough for all. And what if a Red Bull runs away at the front and you can’t catch him.

      WEbber deserves credit for his drive it wasn’t just the tyres. He overtook cars and lapped faster while in clean air. You are saying tht if you aren’t fast enough to be i the top 10 you will be on the podium, NOT TRUE. Webber was on the podium because he was FASTER than all the other cars by 1 second a lap. A new set of soft tyres doesn’t give an EXTRA SECOND a lap over used for qualifying soft tyres. Not at all.

      1. First sorry for my bad English which I couldn’t put things together. What I meant is that for some team who have a good quali pace but bad race pace can do this strategy & see what happen,given the fact they have a good car under them.I didn’t say that Webber don’t deserve his run? I rated that 3rd on all time greatest drive in F1!!! I do doubt that many of the front running team will do that.

  4. Spinmastermic
    28th April 2011, 2:55

    If the race was 5 laps longer they would’ve fun outta fuel lol

    1. Last Pope Eye (@)
      28th April 2011, 4:54

      Good one! they forgot to mention that. Nobody will finnish the race :)

      1. I dunno, Virgin might be compensating for the lack of fuel last year. Maybe that’s why they are so slow as well.

  5. Virgin Racing are hiring too by the way! (technical staff)

  6. Shouldn’t this be posted under “F1 Fanatic round-up” instead of “2011 F1 season”?

    1. Indeed it should! Fixed it.

  7. I love having that disparity between qualifying and the race. It’s only amplified these days aswell.

    Great COTD too. Couldn’t agree more.

  8. For me, Pirelli may bring a really supersoft one-lap-wonder qualifying tyre. I mean, outlap, hotlap and off they are. Four of these for each team per weekend, and one hard and one soft less. Two to be used in practice, two in qualifying.
    And of course, nobody has to use their qualifying tyres for the race anymore.

    That way we will see proper qualifying! The current tyres will make the race exciting enough, to me there’s absolutely no added value in strategic qualifying – although I did enjoy Hamilton in China. But I’d rather remember that as a one off.

    1. I’d be very surprised to see anyone doing 2 runs in Q3 following Webber’s fightback and Hamilton’s win.

      1. It’s a balance… given that top-10 drivers still have to start on the tyres they qualified on, even if they do one run on the softs it stops them doing what Webber did and cruising around on the hard tyres before doing 2-3 stints on softs.

  9. Nahh, I think Webber was doing great mostly because he spent majority of the race(46 of 56 laps) on the faster soft tires, that is already much longer than any other top drivers have done with their softs. And still his soft tires were in great condition at the end/probably could last even longer. Where the other 3 stoppers were force to switch the slower hard tires already some 18 laps to the end.

    Webber was eliminated in Q3 on hard tires so he didn’t use any soft tires at all for qualifying, that certainly helped a lot. Hamilton has done only do one run in Q3, and beaten by Button who did 2 runs, just to save some life from the softs, and it paid off already. To have some brand new softs was IMO a big advantage. If Webber had the same soft tires usage as the others and still not qualified on the front rows, his race would look different I think.

  10. Horner is spot on about qualifying not being so important this season and I was thinking the same myself! So far the races this season have reminded me of the 1980’s and early 1990’s when the starting order would very often pay no resemblance to the finishing order. Sure Vettel’s won a couple of races from pole (his speciality!) but apart from that the finishing orders have been pretty unpredictable, just like the good old days!!! :-)

  11. Qualifying “not as crucial” – Horner

    Tell Seb that. Firstly he wants to stack up as many career poles as possible (along with FLAPS and wins, presumably), second Vettel starting back down in 6th or something doesn’t sound like a recipe for trouble-free racing.

  12. How about giving those who make it into the top 10 and extra set of soft tyres?
    Alonso said it before the season started, that qualifying was no longer important, but no one knew how unimportant it would prove to be until the last race.
    Of course, on some circuits, the ability to start in front of others will be crucial, but in the vast majority of circuits, it is not crucial, assuming of course you have a car with sufficient pace to keep up with your peers.

    Expect Button’s qualifying performance to suddenly get better, and be prepared to hear him brag about it a lot.

    1. As Keith has argued many times before, making the top ten start the race on the tires they set their best qualifying lap on is a bit of a punishment. I don’t personally think that those in the top ten should be rewarded with an extra set of tires however. Personally I think the FIA should treat qualifying as they do free practice in terms of tire allocation. One set of each tire that must be given back after qualifying. If that were all they had to work with, the top teams would all go for primes in Q1 to save the options for Q2 and Q3. Back markers and some midfielders would likely use up their options in Q1 with hopes of making it into Q2. I think it would make for much more interesting qualifying, and occasional upsets similar to Webber in China, which can only make for good racing in my opinion.

  13. It took Hamilton’s qualifying strategy and win for everyone to realize that being on pole is not really that necessary. Of course one has to at least within the 2nd row. Webber got it right by chance whereas Lewis thought out the strategy and convinced his Engineers to agree with him. In China, Vettel and Button were busy competing in their 2 rounds of Q3 and Lewis had his strategy well thought out and only did one round in Q3. I know a lot of people hate him but, the guy deserves more credit.

    1. It was an inspired choice, and certainly paid off, but it was a gamble as well. If Red Bull had put Vettel on the 3 stop strategy that Webber was on, it’s possible he may have been able to take the win. You’re absolutely right though, Hamilton is a lot more clever than he’s given credit for. I think the same could be said of most of the top drivers however.

  14. I agree that qualifying isn’t as crucial but I see it more that there’s a lot more possibilities for things to change and go wrong during the race so its importance has increased rather than qualifying being less special. Ferrari have had a miserable start mostly because they can’t unlock that one lap potentialn so are on the back foot right away while Mclaren and RBR can waltz off into the distance despite having a good race pace.

    I think the strategy options now possibly give the big teams a better chance at making a good recovery if they really screw up qualifying but usually track position should still be king.

    1. I agree that qualifying isn’t as crucial but I see it more that there’s a lot more possibilities for things to change and go wrong during the race


      And you’re right about the top teams as well. I think everyone’s forgetting that Webber was able to do what he did not just because of the fresh tires he had saved by accident, but because of the RB7’s superior pace. A McLaren may have been the only other car capable of that drive in China. I doubt a Ferrari would’ve been able to do the same, but maybe… it’s always just a guessing game when we talk about hypothetical scenarios in F1.

    2. Very true. Only a very fast car could have made that strategy work.

      Still, I think it is a good thing that Qualli is not all defining any more.

      1. “if the race was a few laps longer, Webber would have won and if it was a few laps shorter, Vettel would have won”

        Seldom we hear such childish BS from a team principal. But then again, it’s Horner.

        To translate his BS: The number of laps was known before the race. You used a strategy that worked on less laps. So, you simply had it wrong. Period.

        Webber made an astonishing recovery from 18th, because he was driving a front-running car, not simply because he had an additional set of softs. Plus, he never should have started from 18th in the first place.

        Basically, all you intented to say is: with the current tires and regs, there is less chance of having your race ruined by getting stuck behind a slower car and more opportunity to make up ground during the race.

        Was that so hard, Christian?

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