Daniel Ricciardo qualified 14th for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix, but will start at least one place higher because of a penalty for Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India, while Jean Eric Vergne was sixteenth in Q2, but will start at the back of the grid, following his 10 place penalty imposed in Valencia a fortnight ago. Saturday morning saw free practice run entirely in the dry, but it was only a diversionary tactic before the rain returned, lightly at first and then so heavily that qualifying had to be red flagged for over an hour.
Q 1 started with both our boys queued at the traffic light at the end of pit lane, raring to go on Intermediate tyres, for the first of two runs. Come the end, they were both through into Q2, with Daniel tenth and Jev sixteenth. For Q2, the amount of water on the track meant it was time for the Extreme tyres, with both men setting a time before staying out on track to see if the conditions would improve. They would not. In fact, they got much worse and with slightly over six minutes remaining in Q2, the session was red flagged. At this point our French driver was fourth and the Australian ninth. At the restart, the rain kept varying in strength and it was going to be a close call as to whether it was better to send our boys out on the Extreme rain tyre, or the Intermediate that would have a big performance advantage if the track conditions were dry enough to allow it. So, Jev and Dan were put on hold for just enough time to assess levels of spray flying off the cars already out on track: the decision was clear – Extremes. For Jev, the waiting game did not pay off as he narrowly missed the chance to start another flying lap before the chequered flag fell. Daniel encountered bad luck of another sort, as his lap was definitely on course to take him into Q3 for the final top ten shoot out, but a yellow flag, when Grosjean beached his Lotus on a kerb, meant he had to lift off and that cost him a few tenths.
Rain is meant to stay with us through this beautiful English summer weekend, which means both our drivers will be hoping for the sort of seismic turnaround that a wet race can bring. The team will have to be ready to capitalise on the slightest change in conditions or the more than likely appearance of the Safety Car. Then it will be down to Daniel and Jean-Eric to make the most of the fact the STR7 seems to like driving through the puddles.
At the front of the grid, we have Fernando Alonso who secured his and Ferrari’s first pole of the season. He shares the front row with Mark Webber in the Red Bull. Row 2 is an all-German affair, with Michael Schumacher third for Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel fourth in the other Red Bull. Felipe Massa is fifth for Ferrari, with Kimi Raikkonen on the outside of him in the Lotus. Strategy? Who knows? Only the weather gods at the moment.