Grand Prix 2011 European Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Got your breath back yet?

After an exhilarating grand prix which lasted for record time, it seems as if there is renewed optimism that Sebastian Vettel can be caught after a last lap slip in the moist conditions in Canada allowing Jenson Button to take his first win for over a year despite a turbulent race which included crashes with Alonso and team-mate Hamilton, a puncture and a drive through.

However, a candidate for most improved driver since the season started is a certain Michael Schumacher. Ridiculed early on after a poor start, he seems to have found the groove again and if it hadn't have been for the last safety car, he arguably would have gotten his first podium since returning to the sport, indeed he was closing the gap to Vettel and could even have taken the win at one of his favourite circuits. Now that he has overtaken Rosberg in the standings, is it time for him to push on and show that he is worth the 7 world championships to his name?

Another name that has been bandied about the press recently is Lewis Hamilton, after a disappointing race in Monaco, he followed it with a worse showing at one of his most successful circuits. During the race he hit everything that moved, and seemed to take the blame for most if not all of the incidents, whether he deserves the current criticism is another thing entirely. He knows he needs a strong showing in Valencia where he has finished 2nd on every single visit so far to the Spanish circuit.

It is the second home race of the year for Fernando Alonso, but it looks like he is going to need more than home support to beat the Red Bulls here, however an improved showing in Canada was masked by a clumsy incident with Button which punted him out of the grand prix. Felipe Massa had an overall strong race and recovered form an impact in the wall to finish 6th after beating Kobayashi in a drag race to the line.

Williams claimed their first points of the year finally with Barrichello claiming a handful of points while Toro Rosso managed to get both drivers into the points which will go some way into relieving the pressure on the two embattled drivers who will no doubt be looking over his shoulder.

Looking ahead to Valencia, it is easy for people not to get their hopes up about any exciting racing as the European Grand Prix here hasn't been known for frantic racing, particularly as the 2009 race didn't have any overtaking whatsoever, yes, there were 0 overtakes. But with a combination of two long straights and the new dual DRS zones, we should be seeing tons of overtaking into the hairpin, remember Kobayashi's overtake on Alonso late on last year.

No doubt Mark Webber will want to eradicate last years memories where he found that Red Bull literally did give him wings when he flew 360 degrees in the air after tagging Kovalainens lotus at high speed, seeing as this happened in what will probably be a DRS zone this year, I sincerely hope we do not see a repeat, while Webber walked away unharmed, it is never nice to see that happen in any kind of motorsport.

For Galahads superb circuit write up, see here
I doubt there'll be a Red Bull in close attendence to a Team Lotus car this year, but it'd not be good for that to happen in DRSville.

Who knows? With the EBD rules, it may be Red Bull's last chance to make hey while the sun shines. Probably not, though!
McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull will all be good at Valencia. RB will be on pole by about 3 - 4 tenths and then McLaren and Ferrari will be on the pace in the race. It could be a classic. Not usual you'd say that about Valencia?
F1 2011 is a crazy thing, after all, even Spain and Monaco have not been boring races, while Turkey was one of the least interesting.

I expect normal service to resume in terms of RBR being better than the others, but McLaren will have points to prove, Hamilton will want to get back on the horse, while Button will want to continue his momentum. For Ferrari they will want to build on from what for the most part was a respectable weekend at Canada, and with some luck will rectify what eventually was a bad result weekend for the team.



As aforementioned Hamilton will enter Valencia with a little point to prove after a few races of boiled over frustration and media criticism. Everyone knows the kind of driver Hamilton is so it won't necessarily be surprising if the McLaren firebrand bounces back with a fine driving display. If anything the Englishman's greatest attribute plays for and against him but his aggressive driving style and controversial nature make him a must see in nigh on two weeks time.

Write off Hamilton at your peril.


Although Ferrari have seemed to make steady progress in the last few races, it will be a world shattering result in Montreal, it seemed as though the Spaniard was extremely dissappointed at the end of his Canadian GP and somewhat looked shattered. Reading reports from various sources it would suggest the Ferrari ace is somewhat resigned to the thought that 2011 is all but in mathematical statistics over and that nothing short of a minor miracle will be needed to bring him back into the title picture. That said he seems to be upbeat at the prospects of trying to get himself and Ferrari as close as reasonably possible to being in the picture......With Massa looking good at Montreal perhaps for the men in Red it is a turning point for what has been a rather underachieving season.


The highly rated Mercedes driver has been somewhat of a dissappointment of late and with rather lack lusture efforts in Monaco and Montreal along with driver talks and rumours, Rosberg will need to start putting in the performances that are more on a par with his potential.



The car seems to be good enough to be in the points consistantly, and other than a number of strange instances Renault have been somewhat of a 2011 talk, some are intrigued either by the colour scheme or by the fact that Renault don't seem all that bad and should be pushing Petronas Mercedes, Sauber and Williams a lot more than what the results suggest.

Red Bull Racing

It may seem as though Montreal was a disappointment to RBR but when the dust settles and emotions wane the clear picture is that the MK boys are very much in the drivers seat in all championships, they were in which ever way you slice the Canada cake, the big winners of the weekend as Hamilton didn't score and they had two of three podium spots...for RBR it will be about getting back to business at Valencia.
Could we be in for :o an exciting race at Valencia??? I certainly hope so.

Wwill they be running the soft and the intermediates there? (unless it rains!!!!)
I'm sure that Hamilton will be quite calm, but I bet Martin Whitmarsh will be praying, crossing his fingers, touching wood etc. hoping to get through Valencia unscathed, and will be relieved to get to the relatively wide open spaces of Silverstone.

As for Valencia, it will be interesting to see if Mercedes can keep up the momentum of Montreal (well, Schumacher's momentum anyway). As Sarinaide pointed out, Rosberg needs a good performance here to regain the ascendency over his teammate.

And I have high hopes of Williams. Maldonado in paricular needs to do better and has a chance here, if his liking for Monaco is anything to go by. He got a 1st and 4th place in the GP2 races at Valencia last season.
Fingers-crossed that this race will be just as crazy as the last two minus the crashes hopefully. Would love to see Jenson or Lewis win this one just to keep the title race alive alittle bit longer.

BTW I think Perez will do alright in this race if he is fit! Despite his poor finishes last season in GP2.
Mclaren have generally done well in Valencia, a podium finish for them every single year since Valencia came on the podium, even Kovalainen finished 4th in 2009.
And I have high hopes of Williams. Maldonado in paricular needs to do better and has a chance here, if his liking for Monaco is anything to go by. He got a 1st and 4th place in the GP2 races at Valencia last season.

A bit harsh on Maldonado - he has had two Q3s and 12th place qualifying and was running well in both Monaco and I seem to recall a period in Montreal. I would like it if he could grab some points this time around though! (sorry I feel he has been dismissed somewhat despite some improving performances and so have to stick up for him)
And I have high hopes of Williams. Maldonado in paricular needs to do better and has a chance here, if his liking for Monaco is anything to go by. He got a 1st and 4th place in the GP2 races at Valencia last season.

Yes. Maldonado is quite an interesting character. A politically outspoken socialist and fan of Hugo Chavez, I hear. Quite unusual for an F1 driver. If he gets on well in the sport he should provide some exciting material for the PR chaps. A mixed bag of performances in the lower formulae but has bagged himself some championships. We shouldn't be surprised when he performs well, nor should we be surprised when he bins it. Hopefully, he will do more of the former and less of the latter as he learns the ropes in F1.
I have noticed with the Chump/Winner of the week polls, perhaps there will be some respite for Hamilton in the next race, I think he is becoming the obligatory chump of the week, some deserved others not so much.

Would we have to worry about weather? and are there hard compound tyres....that way I can prepare for another Ferrari mare.
Well surely we all hope for the championships sake that Vettel comes a cropper in Valencia and gets a DNF whilst Button styreaks through for another win? Right?

Can i get a hell yeah?


Didn't think so.

Tyre compounds for Valencia will be medium (prime) and super-soft (option).
It's the new medium compound they were testing last week at Canada.

These are the compounds up to Britain.

Australia (Melbourne)		hard (prime)	soft (option)
Malaysia (Sepang) hard (prime) soft (option)
China (Shanghai) hard (prime) soft (option)
Turkey (Istanbul) hard (prime) soft (option)
Spain (Barcelona) hard (prime) soft (option)
Monaco (Monte Carlo) soft (prime) super-soft (option)
Canada (Montreal) soft (prime) super-soft (option)
Europe (Valencia) medium (prime) super-soft (option)
Great Britain (Silverstone) hard (prime) soft (option)
I'm desperate for a Hamilton win... from two laps behind.... with three wheels.... and no front wing. I can totally see that happening :yes:.

On a more serious note, if the Pirelli tyres can't produce a decent race at Valencia than nothing will. For me it's been by far the worst track on the grid since its introduction a few years ago.
It's still hard to think about the next race... btw, I recorded the Canada highlights show and watched the race again, speeding up the safety car bits ;).

Does anyone have any idea what the tyre wear is like at Valencia? Which tyres did Bridgestone bring last year? It will be interesting to see how the supersofts go here and probably important that there is the gap to the mediums.

Do we know where the DRS zones are? The wall lining the track and the subtle curves on the "straights" aren't really conducive to overtaking, are they?

I will do the how many stops poll later this week, so get your thinking caps on. So far, we have proven to be hopeless at getting this right with 2 in 37 getting Monaco right and 2 in 44 correct guesses for Montreal. :clip:


I fear for the Mercs again with their exhaust blown rear tyres. The traction of the Renault must be an advantage here but I cannot read the fortunes of the top three - Ferrari are really confusing me, they showed great promise in the dry sessions at Montreal, so I don't know if they are second or third now. Massa has always impressed me in Valencia, but on the other hand I feel that McLaren could beat Red Bull if they get the weekend right.

Vettel's strategy is interesting - he has pure pace which he pulls out of the bag in qually and whenever he wants to build a lead, but he has become increasingly conservative once he has that 5s lead. His pitstop timing seems to err on the side of caution and I think we could see this evolve into just driving banker races for podiums rather than taking risks defending position or chasing aggressive tyre strategies. If he does stay on this path, he is surely nailed on for the WDC, but we might see one or two others on the top step.

As for Lewis... well, I think he is due some luck. But he has to calm down to benefit when it comes his way.8-)
Top Bottom