Vettel takes pole position as Massa crashes

2011 Indian GP qualifying report

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Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

Sebastian Vettel claimed his 13th pole position of 2011 in qualifying for the Indian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton qualified second but will start fifth following his penalty.

He aborted his final effort shortly before Felipe Massa crashed in the dying moments of Q3.


With a large difference in performance between the soft and hard tyres, some of the front runners found themselves under pressure in the first session.

The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers were able to set quick enough times on hard tyres, as was Lewis Hamilton.

But Jenson Button found himself struggling for grip on the hard tyres. He had to return to the track for an extra run, using up a set of soft tyres, guaranteeing his progress to Q2.

Michael Schumacher was in the same situation, and had a scare when he caught Narain Karthikeyan in turn ten during his final lap. But he was able to improve to 11th place.

That knocked out Kamui Kobayashi, the Sauber drivers doing just one run at the end of Q1. Button moved up to third with his final lap.

Timo Glock only did one lap before his gearbox broke, leaving him outside the 107% time. He will need permission from the stewards to start the race.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’27.876
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’28.565
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’28.752
21 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1’30.216
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’30.238
23 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’30.866
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’34.046


The top three teams comfortably made it into Q2 without having to make extra runs. But the fight among the remaining cars was much closer.

Adrian Sutil made it into Q3 with his final lap, squeezing Schumacher out of the top ten. Once again the Mercedes driver found himself needing to pull something out of the bag with his last effort.

But this time he couldn’t manage it and had to settle for 12th place. On his way back to the pits he complained of tyre vibrations, which also troubled him in Korea two weeks ago.

Both Toro Rosso drivers also reached the top ten, eliminating the Renault drivers. Paul di Resta was not able to follow his team mate into Q3.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’26.319
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’26.337
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’26.503
14 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’26.537
15 Bruno Senna Renault 1’26.651
16 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’27.247
17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’27.562


Hamilton was the first driver out on track in Q3, joined by the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers. Button, having used up a set of softs in Q1, hung back in the pits to begin with.

Hamilton and Webber took a lap to warm up their tyres before doing their quickest runs. They were pipped by Vettel, the trio covered by less than a tenth of a second.

Sutil and the Toro Rossos made a show of going out during the session but returned to the pits without setting times.

The first of the remaining seven drivers to attempt a time was Hamilton, but he aborted his effort as he couldn’t improve in the first two sectors. Vettel came around to tighten his grasp on pole position by improving his time to a 1’24.178.

Further behind, Massa sealed the deal for Vettel by crashing in turn nine, bringing out the yellow flags. The front-right suspension failed on his Ferrari as he hit the kerb at turn eight, sending him into the barriers. He climbed out of his car unhurt.

Button was right behind him as the crash happened and yellow flags came out. He took fifth with a 1’24.950.

However after Hamilton’s penalty Button will be promoted to fourth place and the other McLaren will start fifth.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’24.178
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.474
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’24.508
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’24.519
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’24.950
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’25.122
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’25.451
8 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
9 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari
10 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari

2011 Indian Grand Prix

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    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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    76 comments on “Vettel takes pole position as Massa crashes”

    1. Petrov and Alguersuari set identical times in Q2. Petrov has more championship points, and was fastest in Q1. Surely that means he would be bumped up to Q3?

      1. I think its because Alguersuari set his time first.

        1. One Tv said they went to ten thousenths of a second. 0001.

      2. I believe the FIA measures in 1/10,000 of a second, so I guess that made the difference.

      3. Sorry I read “I like Petrov, so surely he should be higher” ;-)

        I’m not sure to what level the FIA measure, but the rule is who sets the time first, gets precedence on the grid (See Jerez 1997 when Jacques Villenuve, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Michael Schumacher all set the same time)

        1. Well, you read wrong. ‘Cause I like Alguersuari, too. I’m just curious as to how the FIA decides who gets promoted to Q3 because both drivers set identical times, and when was the last time that happened? When was the last time it happened in such a way that one driver was eliminated in qualifying and the other promoted to the next qualifying period?

          1. Sorry, I was just trying to stir up some debate, be a bit controversial ;-)

            And I’m not sure it has ever happened in “new format” qualifying. Certainly not to an extent that it affected final grid position

          2. I think someone said on Twitter that the rule is whoever sets the time first gets to go through. There was a similar situation in Jerez ’97 if my F1 history is as good as I think!

            1. Yep, it’s down to who set it first. Same as Jerez ’97 and same as Valencia last year with the Williamses.

          3. Remember Jerez 1997? Who sets the time first stays ahead. If the FIA measure beyond the thousandths of a second, then they surely have data to confirm their decision, which shouldn’t be decided by how many points each driver has.
            I was happy for Alguersuari but also a bit sad for Petrov.

            1. Yep Jerez ’97 Frentzen, Schumacher and Villeneuve that was quite an unbelievable one. A perfect qualifying thriller to a perfect season finish thriller. Of course what happened the next day was history ….

      4. Nice try there @prisoner-monkeys, shame then that it will be up to who set the time first (as you surely know)!

    2. Rejkjavicsdottir
      29th October 2011, 10:48

      Someone – Keith? – please confirm a quick one here:
      1. Did Jenson Button do his fastest lap under a yellow flag?
      2. Did Vettel do the same?

      Would be nice to know. Working day for me, so I have to rely on online coverage and tweets.

      1. Vettel was past the yellow flag zone so did not have to back off.

        Button did set his best time, However I believe that Button had set a very slow 1st lap to prepare the tyres for the 2nd. His 1st lap was slow enough that he could have lifted for the yellow & still set a faster lap.

        I think the stewards will look more at the throttle/speed traces than the split/lap time & if they see that JB did lift off more & was slower than usual through that section he will escace penalty, If he was just as fast he’ll get a penalty.

      2. Vettel was literally crossing the line when Massa went off. Button was a couple of seconds behind Massa so it is undecided at the moment. The on-board camera showed the flashing yellow board from Button’s car, but after he had passed Massa. Depends how the stewards judge if he was required to slow down there or not and if the evidence shows he did or did not do so.

        1. I definitely believe that if there’s a yellow, you should slow down, even if you think you’ve passed the incident. Someone could have crashed just around the corner, after all – you have to respect the flags without a second thought.

          However in the BBC interview, Jenson said that he did slow down. If the telemetry backs him up, then he shouldn’t have a problem.

          1. Rejkjavicsdottir
            29th October 2011, 11:08

            Ah, ok. Thanks for clearing that up. Hope that’s that – we already have had enough penalty controversy for the weekend.

          2. That might not have been enough though as he still set his fastest time of the session. As I believe did Rosberg.

            1. He set his ONLY real time of the session

            2. Yeah that’s a bit of a silly precedent. If you’ve gained 1 second that sector why should you slow down by 1.1 seconds in that corner when someone who is only 0.1 seconds faster only has to back off by 0.2 seconds. Sector time should have no impact, it should be based on whether you lift in the corner you’re meant to.

      3. Amazing that the stewards harsh penalties on Hamilton are setting precedents everywhere. I cant see why Button shouldn’t get a penalty for that…

        1. As long as he set a slow last sector I don’t think he should get a penalty. Setting his fastest lap might simply mean that he did very good 1st and 2nd sectors (not under yellow flag).

          1. Presumably you mean a slow second sector and a fast 1st and 3rd?

          2. I bet If this was Hamilton, it would be automatic penalty. One rule for Hamilton and one rules for the other drivers

            1. @pking008 Yes, why wait for the facts to come out when we can jump to conclusions and assume the worst?

            2. @keithcollantine

              What you think about write a post hilighting stewards inconsistency this year? Would be usefull…

              It looks like Rosberg got away without penalty yesterday too…

            3. @becken-lima Sounds like a complete minefield which would end up with 500 comments from people claiming I’m biased against their favourite driver. For the amount of research it would take I don’t think it would be worth the effort.

            4. COTD, Keiith ;)

      4. Buttons S2 was like a 22.9 when Vettel did a 22.2 and Hamilton a 22.4. he backed off.

        1. I know you’re probably serious, but it looks sarcastic.

          There is less than the blink of an eye between those times, Button being a _fraction_ of a second slower than Hamilton on a hotlap (which is normal anyway), does not mean he went through the Yellow flag zone safly.

          1. stewards obviously agree. No penalty given

    3. Boooooooooooooring

      1. Haven’t you watched Qualifying?

        1. I have actually. In fact I’ve seen that qualifying about 15 or more times. It was interesting the first time maybe but session after session of a guy playing on easy mode and a bunch of others making up the numbers gets boring real quick.

          1. I bet you loved Saturday afternoons between 1988 and 1991.

            1. Not old enough. Besides the records show that the Saturday afternoons between 1988 and 1991 didn’t define the outcome of the Sunday afternoons as much as they do now.

            2. Well, now it’s time to learn that not every season will be like 2010. F1 always goes through periods of dominance, and periods where seemingly anyone can win. It happens in all sport.

      2. Yeah, you´re right. Except for Massa’s crash, it was realy boooooring…

        1. don’t forget the boring moment of Schumacher and Button only getting past Q1 in the last couple of seconds. And Petrov being just as fast as Alguersuari to miss out of Q3 only by being later on track.

          1. Schumacher and Button almost missing Q2 is cringe-inducingly embarassing. And honestly I couldn’t care less what happens to Petrov or Alguersuari, I mean did it honestly make a difference to the running of Q3 that Alguersuari got in? And how different would the result and tomorrows race be if Petrov had gotten in? A bigger pair of also-ran’s one rarely sees.

            1. I don’t know. Champ Car had a whole field of also rans.

            2. To be fair, Michael was probably looking out for stray dogs so he could pick them up & bring them home.

    4. Exciting quali for me, looked a close fight for pole.

      Sad for Michael though. I thought Massa’ new magic wing has failed.

    5. After a blip in free practice 2 yesterday, it seems like Massa rediscovered his true form in qualifying today :)

      1. I got a chuckle out of that one! :)

      2. Haha, quality.

    6. Turn 7 will be interesting tomorrow. A lot of the drivers keep cutting over it, dragging dirt and dust over the circuit. Massa, Buemi and Senna are the most-guilty parties here; they’ve been cutting all weekend. It’s probably dug a nice little hole just on the inner lip of the kerbing, and if drivers keep abusing it, it’s going to do some damage. I suspect it already has; Massa’s accident looked like a glancing blow of the kerb. Carving up Turn 7 probably weakened the suspension.

      1. It will surely be a point to watch during the race, especially when cars are chasing each other there tomorrow.

    7. Same old story back again isnt it? Vettel on Pole! Hamilton spiliting the RBs!(Even though he’s got a 3 Place Grid Penalty) Ferrari closer but still behind the McLarens & RB.

      Seb,He just keeps pulling it out of the bag especially in Q3,Great Pole Position from him,Expecting a pretty good race tomorrow,Two DRS Zones should provide overtaking opportunities & for Drivers like Lewis,Mercedes drivers & Di Resta to pick up places but hopefully for our sake its not too easy.

    8. Yet another Hamilton-Massa incident!
      Hamilton on Oct 27: “Kerbs here are nice rumble-strips that you can drive on.”
      Obviously this has been a hex on Massa. I can see another penalty for Hamilton coming.

      1. I still think Massa will find a way to blame Hamilton for his own crash. Just wait…

        1. Rejkjavicsdottir
          29th October 2011, 11:32

          The problem will be at the start tomorrow – Lewis is 5th, Massa 6th. There is usually a fair amount of jostling at the start, but with Vettel almost certainly going to move towards the dirty side of the track to head of Webber, and Alonso needing to do the same to hold off Button, Lewis and Massa will have to scrap by the first corner.
          There will be carnage…

          1. @Rejkjavicsdottir Yes. Vettel is known for crowding people off the starts and being generally controversial.

            You could look at it the other way, Webber needs this win whereas Vettel doesn’t. Would Webber try and crowd Vettel off the line? Where is the racing line at the start anyway? There’s no ‘clean side’..

            Of course, if we’re going by form (which I presume you are, even if Vettel HASN’T crowded anyone off the start for the last 2 seasons now) wouldn’t Webber get bogged down off the start?

        2. No, this time he blamed the kerbs.

          “It’s a high-speed corner where you have very low kerbs, and then you have this high sausage kerb,” said Massa.

          “…I didn’t take the kerb too strongly, I took a little bit of kerb and then my suspension didn’t survive…”

    9. Got so close to the pole time. Predicted a Vettel 1:24.177, he did 1:24.178.

    10. Looking forward to the race, should be good, close at the front and an interesting fight between the midfield teams for 5th, 6th etc in the constructors.

    11. I’m liking the Indian circuit. And it was great to see Webber, Hamilton and Alonso so close, even if Vettel runs away with the race tomorrow the battle for 2nd place should be very entertaining!

    12. I was so glad the gravel was there when Massa’s front right fell apart. I’m generally a fan of gravel anyway but if it had just had miles of run off then it wouldn’t have slowed the car down much. He was really unfortunate as he’s been going quite well recently.

      I’ve decided that I love this track too.

    13. Thanks Felipe for ruining the final laps of Button, Webber and Alonso. And before anyone says it wasn’t his fault, yes it was. He took the corner with over half his car on it and was wild over the kerbs in other places around the track as well. F1 car suspension can take only so much beating.

      And ironically Massa got what he deserved by losing a place to Hamilton. Because at least one of the 3 aforementioned drivers would’ve beat Lewis’s time and Lewis has aborted his final lap so wasn’t going to improve. So after Lewis’s penalty was applied he would’ve lost the place to Massa as well.

      Overall, not a very exciting qualy session. Wouldn’t call it boring though. Let’s hope tomorrow’s race on this great track will be much better!

      1. nd before anyone says it wasn’t his fault, yes it was.

        Yes, it was all a part of a wider plan to deny his team-mate a flying lap.

        1. Did I say it was a plan? That he made a mistake and not deliberate, doesn’t make him any less at fault. Fact is, he screwed up the laps of those three drivers I mentioned.

          1. @montreal95 These things happen. Why didn’t those drivers try and set their fastest time earlier on in the session, thereby avoiding the incident?

            They take a risk by all of them going out in the last 2 minutes and driving right on the limit (and over it in some cases) so it was only a matter of time before something like that did happen. Vettel went and did his lap earlier, and missed the incident. It’s the way F1 works..

            1. “Why didn’t those drivers try and set their fastest time earlier on in the session, thereby avoiding the incident?”

              It’s like if you walk on the street at night and you’ve been robbed. By your logic you’re the one at fault, not the robber, because you walked at night. Flawed reasoning.
              Vettel himself is one of the very last normally to do the final qualy laps. That he wasn’t this time is, what you can call, a champion’s luck. The drivers who are getting to the end of Q3 don’t need to assume that someone is gonna drive stupidly the way Massa did.

              And Massa drove stupidly indeed in India. This is proven by his second broken suspension on sunday. Even if his guilt in the Hamilton collision is debatable, fact is that he was the only driver to brake his suspension over the kerbs in India. Twice. Which means he doesn’t learn from mistakes as well. All in all a sad weekend for Massa and his fans.

            2. @keeleyobsessed @montreal95 Plus, with track evolution being so high, here more than anywhere it was crucial for drivers to set their final lap as late as possible to enjoy the best of the track conditions.

            3. @montreal95 (apologies, I think the reply limit is getting close..)

              I’m not saying it’s their fault, but they are running the risk of one of the 10 cars (or maybe more like 8 by current standards) pushing it slightly too far, or taking too much of a kerb. The same happened in Monaco when Perez crashed. If the drivers go out earlier, they can put in a 85-95% lap, still get a respectable time, and then not worry about risking it all at the last possible minute.

              There’s 10 minutes in Q3, minus an outlap, that gives roughly 8 minutes left to do a fast lap. Am I the only one who’d consider going out earlier to avoid all the traffic, and get a good lap in then instead of risking it with the other drivers, increasing the likelihood of an incident?

              The track conditions do not change massively if there are no cars setting competitive times in the early part of Q3/late Q2..

              If all the drivers went and did a 60-70% ‘banker lap’ in the first few minutes of Q3, and then it chucked it down with rain, who would be at fault?

              And in response to your scenario.. Yes, by walking down the street at night you are taking a risk of being robbed, I am not saying that people should avoid walking down the street at night, as long as you take precautions if necessary. Therefore the same applies for F1, surely?

              Or are you gonna argue that F1 is nothing like real-life? :P

      2. Thanks Felipe for ruining the final laps of Button, Webber and Alonso.

        I would say the he ruined his own laps, not others’…

      3. sid_prasher (@)
        29th October 2011, 18:18

        Ruin your own lap/car to stop others from setting a time…weird logic!

    14. Any news about what happens to Massa regarding whether he starts from the pit lane or not because of the damage that is/isn’t allowed to be fixed in parc-ferme?

      1. I understand that if it’s broken, you’re allowed to fix/change it without penalties (excluding engine and gearbox of course). So I think he’ll be on the grid, not in the pitlane.

        1. @KaIIe Yea I would imagine you’re right. As long as they don’t alter anything set-up wise I can’t see the FIA having a problem really.

    15. Track looked exciting, even if the quali sessions wasn’t.

      Looking forward how it’ll be in the race, especially the all the dust.

    16. Karthikeyan penalised for impeding Schumacher, he is given a five-place grid penalty. Good session sad that we couldn’t see what Button would have done but happy that Massa is OK.I think Hamilton should be happy as he now starts of the clear side of the track & we know how dusty is offline here.I think this is a good track but may be as we have dust off line we may not see too many overtaking tomorrow.Good job by the Torro Rosso pair.

    17. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      29th October 2011, 15:02

      I am amazed nobody seems to have picked up on the fact that Petrov and Alguersuari drove the exact same time 1.26:319 yet Petrov going through into Q3 and Petrov stuck at 11th.

      Not sure if Alguersuari advanced to Q3 because in tenthousands he was quicker than Petrov or because he set the time first.

      Keith could you find out their best Q2 times in tenthousands of a second?

      1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
        29th October 2011, 15:04

        Oh for the stats page on Monday – this must be the smallest difference between making it into Q3 or not :-)

    18. I bet Schumacher will be glad has has Petrov in front of him!

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