Jenson Button went from pole position in his McLaren to the top step of the podium at the Grand Prix of Australia Sunday (Sebastien Vettel was second for Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton was third for McLaren) and Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello and Allan McNish finished first in an Audi at the 60th annual 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race Saturday.
Full details, analysis and links in tomorrow's Monday Morning Racing Roundup.
WATCHING RACING ON A COMPUTER
I have seen the future – and it’s your computer.
Right now, right at this very moment at 3:52 p.m. EDT Saturday, I am watching the 12 Hours of Sebring on the American Le Man Series website and the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on the NASCAR.com site.
In fact, I’m riding around with Danica Patrick at this very moment, courtesy of an in-car camera (and we’re really mixing it up out there, I might say).
This is fantastic. I'm free, at last, from the people who run television, who like to dictate when I can watch something (the Nationwide race won’t be on TSN till midnight Saturday; it'll be a recording, obviously. The NCAA basketball tournament is more important, apparently).
Now I just have to get my youngest son to show me how to connect my laptop to my big-screen TV and I’ll really be in business.
P.S. Nationwide race is over now. Elliott Sadler was first, Kasey Kahne finished second and Brad Keselowski was third. We (Danica and me) were 19th.
Okay, saying that qualifying results for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Australia were a surprise would be an understatement.
While it’s not a really big surprise that the McLaren-Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will start first and second in the 2012 Grand prix season opener Down Under, or that the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher will go off fourth, it is flat-out astounding that comeback kid Romain Grosjean qualified third in his Lotus-Renault and even more surprising that the Ferrari cars of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are so far back.
Yes, Sebastien Vettel’s sixth-place raised eyebrows, particularly since his teammate, Mark Webber, outqualified him and will start fifth. But it was pretty much expected that Red Bull would be in for a fight this season after pretty much dominating things the last two years (two drivers’ and two manufacturers’ titles) and negative conclusions shouldn’t be reached too quickly on the basis of the year’s first qualifying session.
Alonso will go off 12th but suggested he could have eventually qualified third if he hadn’t spun off during the second session and didn’t even make it into the top ten. His teammate, Felipe Massa, had a miserable session and nearly didn’t get out of the first session. He will start 16th.
Kimi Raikkonen’s return to F1 started off negatively and he will start 18th. Although there was a mixup in communication, in which he thought he had time for another qualifying try in Q1 when he didn’t, he didn’t really have the speed anyway.
It was a great day for Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who got his Toro Rosso into the top ten, but then the team gave the finger to the Australian crowd by not sending him out at all in Q3. So Formula One, eh?
Finally, the HRT team of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Kathikeyan won’t be allowed to start because their qualifying speeds – if you want to call them that – were beyond the 107% per cent of pole time rule.
Several quick observations:
– Michael Schumacher will make quick work of Grosjean at the start. It won’t be surprising if the seven-time world champion scores his first podium since his comeback. It will put an exclamation mark on his finest qualifying effort for Mercedes.
– Felipe Massa won’t last more than a couple of races for Ferrari in 2012 if he can’t do better than he’s shown so far in Australia.
F1 QUALIFYING RESULTS
Pos Driver Team Time Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m24.922s
2. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.074s + 0.152
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m25.302s + 0.380
4. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m25.336s + 0.414
5. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m25.651s + 0.729
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m25.668s + 0.746
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m25.686s + 0.764
8. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m25.908s + 0.986
9. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m26.451s + 1.529
10. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari No time
11. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.429s + 0.960
12. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m26.4942 + 1.025
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m26.590s + 1.121
14. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m26.663s + 1.194
15. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m27.086s + 1.617
16. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m27.497s + 2.028
17. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari No time
18. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m27.758s + 1.576
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m28.679s + 2.497
20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m29.018s + 2.836
21. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m30.923s + 4.741
22. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m31.670s + 5.488
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m33.495s + 7.313
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m33.643s + 7.461
107% time: 1m32.214s