Rosberg pips Massa to fifth on grid (Korean Grand Prix qualifying analysis)

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Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Korea, 2010

Felipe Massa blamed traffic after missing out on fifth place on the grid in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.

Meanwhile the Red Bull duo had a near-perfect end to the session, lapping within a tenth of a second of each other and setting their fastest times in all three sectors on their last laps.

Qualifying times in full

Massa was the only driver in the entire session who failed to improve from one part of qualifying to the next. His best lap in Q3 was four tenths of a second off his best in Q2.

What made life more difficult for Massa was that he ran soft tyres on both his efforts in Q2, while team mate Fernando Alonso ran hards followed by softs. That reduced Massa’s supply of fresh rubber for Q3.

Alonso said after the session the team had been how much performance they would get from the soft tyre, so perhaps Massa was given an extra soft tyre run while Alonso preserved his supply of soft tyres.

As in Suzuka, where Massa failed to reach Q3, he blamed traffic:

Unfortunately, I had a bit of traffic on the only run I did in Q3 on my last set of new soft tyres: a shame because the car was going well, but I was not able to get the most out of it.
Felipe Massa


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’37.1231’36.074 (-1.049)1’35.585 (-0.489)
2Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’37.3731’36.039 (-1.334)1’35.659 (-0.380)
3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’37.1441’36.287 (-0.857)1’35.766 (-0.521)
4Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’37.1131’36.197 (-0.916)1’36.062 (-0.135)
5Nico RosbergMercedes1’37.7081’36.791 (-0.917)1’36.535 (-0.256)
6Felipe MassaFerrari1’37.5151’36.169 (-1.346)1’36.571 (+0.402)
7Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’38.1231’37.064 (-1.059)1’36.731 (-0.333)
8Robert KubicaRenault1’37.7031’37.179 (-0.524)1’36.824 (-0.355)
9Michael SchumacherMercedes1’37.9801’37.077 (-0.903)1’36.950 (-0.127)
10Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth1’38.2571’37.511 (-0.746)1’36.998 (-0.513)
11Nico H???lkenbergWilliams-Cosworth1’38.1151’37.620 (-0.495)
12Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’38.4291’37.643 (-0.786)
13Nick HeidfeldSauber-Ferrari1’38.1711’37.715 (-0.456)
14Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’38.5721’37.783 (-0.789)
15Vitaly PetrovRenault1’38.1741’37.799 (-0.375)
16Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’38.5831’37.853 (-0.730)
17Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’38.6211’38.594 (-0.027)
18Vitantonio LiuzziForce India-Mercedes1’38.955
19Jarno TrulliLotus-Cosworth1’40.521
20Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’40.748
21Heikki KovalainenLotus-Cosworth1’41.768
22Lucas di GrassiVirgin-Cosworth1’42.325
23Sakon YamamotoHRT-Cosworth1’42.444
24Bruno SennaHRT-Cosworth1’43.283

Driver comparisons

The table below compares each pair of team mates at the point one or both of them were eliminated.

Once again the Red Bull duo were very closely matched (even more so in Q2 where Webber held the upper hand).

The gap between the Williams team mates was also small – just a tenth of a second – which was the difference between Rubens Barrichello making Q3 and Nico H???lkenberg missing it.

The variable track surface and cooler conditions than yesterday seemed to exaggerate the usual differences between some team mates: Lewis Hamilton had two-thirds of a second over Jenson Button, Alonso eight tenths over Massa.

TeamDriverLap timeGapLap timeDriverRound
McLarenJenson Button1’36.731+0.6691’36.062Lewis HamiltonQ3
MercedesMichael Schumacher1’36.950+0.4151’36.535Nico RosbergQ3
Red BullSebastian Vettel1’35.585-0.0741’35.659Mark WebberQ3
FerrariFelipe Massa1’36.571+0.8051’35.766Fernando AlonsoQ3
WilliamsRubens Barrichello1’37.511-0.1091’37.620Nico H???lkenbergQ2
RenaultRobert Kubica1’37.179-0.6201’37.799Vitaly PetrovQ2
Force IndiaAdrian Sutil1’38.572-0.3831’38.955Vitantonio LiuzziQ1
Toro RossoSebastien Buemi1’38.594+0.7411’37.853Jaime AlguersuariQ2
LotusJarno Trulli1’40.521-1.2471’41.768Heikki KovalainenQ1
HRTSakon Yamamoto1’42.444-0.8391’43.283Bruno SennaQ1
SauberNick Heidfeld1’37.715+0.0721’37.643Kamui KobayashiQ2
VirginTimo Glock1’40.748-1.5771’42.325Lucas di GrassiQ1

Ultimate laps

An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap combined.

With the track conditions improving with every lap the best time to go out in qualifying was at the last possible moment. That’s exactly what the Red Bull drivers did and they reaped the rewards, both drivers setting their fastest times in all three sectors on their best laps.

Fernando Alonso blitzed the first sector on his first lap in Q3, covering it in 51.973s.

He wasn’t able to match that second time around but even if he had it wouldn’t have been enough to split the Red Bulls. When he said third place was the best on offer today, he was dead right.

Alonso achieved it despite being 6kph slower than the McLarens through the speed trap. It’s a reminder of how strong the Ferrari is under braking and in slow-corner traction, the key features which distinguish the first sector at Korea, along with its long straights.

While Massa couldn’t repeat his Q2 pace Nico Rosberg delivered a clean lap in his Mercedes, to within 0.012s of his combined best through the three sectors, to pinch fifth place off the Ferrari.

DriverCarUltimate lapGapDeficit to bestActual position
15Sebastian Vettel1’35.5850.0001
26Mark Webber1’35.6590.0740.0002
38Fernando Alonso1’35.6820.0970.0843
42Lewis Hamilton1’36.0510.4660.0114
57Felipe Massa1’36.1250.5400.4466
64Nico Rosberg1’36.5230.9380.0125
71Jenson Button1’36.6271.0420.1047
811Robert Kubica1’36.7351.1500.0898
93Michael Schumacher1’36.8811.2960.0699
109Rubens Barrichello1’36.9471.3620.05110
1110Nico H???lkenberg1’37.2541.6690.36611
1223Kamui Kobayashi1’37.5831.9980.06012
1322Nick Heidfeld1’37.5992.0140.11613
1412Vitaly Petrov1’37.7242.1390.07515
1517Jaime Alguersuari1’37.7262.1410.12716
1614Adrian Sutil1’37.7832.1980.00014
1716Sebastien Buemi1’38.2722.6870.32217
1815Vitantonio Liuzzi1’38.3462.7610.60918
1918Jarno Trulli1’40.5214.9360.00019
2024Timo Glock1’40.7485.1630.00020
2119Heikki Kovalainen1’41.7686.1830.00021
2225Lucas di Grassi1’42.0856.5000.24022
2320Sakon Yamamoto1’42.3846.7990.06023
2421Bruno Senna1’42.8667.2810.41724

2010 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Image ?? Bridgestone/Ercole Colombo

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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59 comments on “Rosberg pips Massa to fifth on grid (Korean Grand Prix qualifying analysis)”

  1. I don’t know what’s wrong with Massa. He messed up his quali startegy in Monza and he’s seriously catching Liuzzi up in the blaming traffic championship standings. He has to time runs better or his side of the garage does. He never seemed to have much of a problem with it before. I really don’t get why he wasted his softs in q2, not only did it mean he couldn’t go out and have time to get back into the rythmn but he only had one chance and it went to pot. Pace wise he was looking ok though at the end of q2 so I’m happyish.

    Great effort by Rosberg though, he did everything right and took advantage.

    Thanks for the analysis Keith. It was a great read and very revealing. Alonso should be happy he did everything he could.

    1. Alonso could not do better but the RBRs could have done worse. They both went for a last minute flying lap and it worked, but with any minor mistake, traffic or whatever they would have lost their chance without time to recover

    2. Surely catching traffic is partly the team’s fault as well

      Just like Monza, it was a questionable strategy, but it would have worked out if they were 5th, but with Rosberg just pipping him meaning Massa starts from the dirty side of the grid, it isn’t a great result.

      1. Surely catching traffic is partly the team’s fault as well

        I haven’t checked this one yet, but his claim of traffic at Suzuka was pretty spurious. And in Q3 here, with 10 cars and a 5.6km track, I’m having a hard time taking it at face value.

        1. Of course, but its sort of easy to forget we are talking about miniscule gaps of tenths and hundredths of a second. A slight distraction or a slightly narrower line he needs to take can have an important impact.

          Based on, Kobayashi, Sutil, Kovalainen and di Grassi were others that cited traffic as a reason for their performance – and we know that Barrichello made a big deal of it as well on the radio.

        2. Having watched the highlights of qualifying, I certainly feel that he lost a few tenths on his first lap of his final run in Q3 to Barrichello certainly and to an extent Schumacher. I’m not sure about his second run, but certainly he managed to catch more than his fair share of warm-up lappers in his first lap of the two.

    3. I dont think its that. I think he got the most that he could out of the car. Ferrari need a faster car if they want him to do any better than 6th.

      That or they need another Alonso.

      1. There was clearly something in the car as Alonso showed that :)

        1. My point is that Alonso is pushing the car beyond its limits.

        2. You are starting to get real warmed to Alonso in the Ferrari, aren’t you Steph?

          But Massa seems to have really lost the self confidence he showed in 2008 and at times in 2009 (his excuses in the last couple of races make me think of Tonio at most races this year).

  2. Pleased with Jaime s pace in qualifying and it looks like it could be also bit better… It was his third best Saturday effort after Spa and Singapore and third qualifying win ahead of Buemi in a row…

    1. Yep, I think Buemi’s mutterings about how he’s “ready” for a step up to the main team are being heavily undermined, assuming anyone placed any credibility on them in the first place.

  3. Massa’s confidence is bringing both him and his results down I think…

  4. I’m not sure what it is…..he looked relatively promising in Q1 and Q2 – but it’s getting a bit tiresome seeing him constantly ‘fail’ to get up there…

    For the stats geeks: out of the 17 qualys this year (is that right?)….anyway….out of those 17… many times has Massa failed to make it into the top 5?

    1. 9 races he hasn’t qualified in the top 5.

      Massa is just running out of time in redeeming himself. Lets hope he has some impact during the race tomorrow. I think Fernando is getting his hopes high if he expects Massa to play a crucial role in these last few races. It just seems that Massa doesn’t have the motivation or the skill to help his teammate.

      1. Neither.

        He’s better up his game or else. No matter what they say in public.

  5. except the 2 redbulls and 2 saubers, the difference between teammates are huge!! curious! You can see who’s the number 1 in each team.
    I’m starting to get tired to hear Button complaining about grip. It’s the same thing for everyone mate. He needs to be a bite agressive.
    In the other hands, I don’t think there’s something wrong with mclaren, it’s just they went out too soon to do their lap time. They need a better strategist.

    1. Having said that, in the first session, those who went out first set the best times. Those who stayed out never got the benefit of a track rubbering in.

  6. hamilton will win tomorrow race

    1. why? how i hate those comments which makes no sence. He is in the dirty side of track, so he will probably lose his P4 in lap 1. and from 5th place… No! Of course if its not raining…

  7. Alonso is at the best possible position to start the race as P1 is surely not gonna be possible…

    1. Clean side of the track. Unless Alonso fouls up, he should get the better of Webber towards the 1st turn…

    2. With the Ferrari’s advantage on heavy braking, he could try overtaking Vettel on Turn 3….

    Anyway, just some food for thought…

    How many times have Position 3 took the race lead AFTER Turn 1 this year?

    1. Bahrain Grand Prix – Massa (3rd) overtook Vettel (pole)

    2. Australia – Vettel (3rd) over Webber (pole)

    3. China – Alonso (3rd) over Vettel (pole) [PS: this isn’t counted as Alonso jumped started]

    4. British – Webber (3rd) over Vettel (pole)

    5. Germany – Massa (3rd) over Vettel (pole)

    This does not take into account that there were also quiet a number of times when 3rd at least overtook 2nd at the start/1st turn…

    Thus that is 4 out of 16… 25% of the time….

    1. mistake… Brahrain does not count… i made a mistake

      1. british- Webber was 2nd )

    2. It happened in Malaysia too – Vettel from 3rd to 1st.

    3. But on the flip side if Alonso can’t take the lead on the first lap, I think he’d be hard pressed to beat the Red Bulls over an entire race.

  8. Forget Massa, the way Yamamoto beat Senna was embarrassing.

    1. Senna has the burden of a name… he shouldn’t shame it.

      1. Its strange that he has surname cause Ayrton (da Silva) Senna’s sister had surname Senna da Silva but her son should be named by his father, and Bruno’s father isn’t person called Senna…

        1. Bruno’s full name is Bruno Senna Lalli. Ayrton’s was “Senna da Silva”, so I guess there’s precedent. But what you’re saying is that Bruno’s name should be “da Silva Lalli”? From what I understand the first part of the surname is the mother’s and the second the father’s, so it seems you’re right, but I don’t think the convention is that rigid.

          1. In brazil the child gets both surnames, the father’s and the mother’s, ayrton used senna cause da silva is very very common. Bruno chose senna for obvious reasons.

          2. I think you’re right Icthyes. Ayrton did choose his name too (not as much) as he dropped the da Silva as it was so common. It happens in Spain too as Fernando is Fernando Alonso Diaz but technically I guess you’re right that Bruno shouldn’t be Senna :S

          3. But at least they are not giving the names like they do to football players: Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Rinaldo, Ruberto, Ronaldinju, Rivaldinju, Rupertinjo, Raslomanjo…xDD

    2. Funny thing here. In the pre-race on Speed they interviewed team principals about the rookies chance of a seat next year (open question seat in current or another team).
      When asked HRT, the comment was made something like Karun deserved a driver after all he was up to speed faster then Senna. Felt it was pretty interesting/sad that the one that excelled the fastest and best of the two is no longer driving in the car. He (Karun) is such a personality I sure hope he gets a seat next year.

    3. Senna had a totally different set up that didn’t work..he went for monza set up an yamamoto for singarpore…senna had less time on track so I think he took a gamble with the setup which didn’t work.

  9. Keith I just read the headline… but I think that you earlier article on Massa not being up to speed was confirmed by Q3 today. Either, he’s not SF material or he’s just given up trying.

    I can’t see him at Ferrari next year. I think he should have been 4th, 5th or even better. It’s a bit early in the day to say that he’s worthless to Ferrari in 6th… But I’m thinking it’s not looking too good for him.

    1. your* **** typos!

    2. he’s not SF material


      1. i think he means scuderia ferrari

      2. SF is my initials so I confess I got a little confused by that post at first :P

        He’ll be in Ferrari next year I’m sure of it. *tries to forget how strongly I argued Button wouldn’t join Mclaren*

        1. Confused because Massa is SF material in that context? lol

      3. Scuderia Ferrari. I’ll watch my abbreviations a bit closer in the future.

        1. Ah OK. I’d’ve got that more easily if it wasn’t for the fatigue! Seriously though is it that hard to type Ferrari?

          1. Sorry m8…I think it has to do with multiple pints… it’s just a bit before 8pm here, and it’s a 3 day weekend. :)

            Point taken ;)

      4. Scuderia Ferrari. I’ll watch my abbreviations a bit closer in the future. Sorry about that.

        1. I’ll watch double post just as closely ;)

      5. New game F1Fanatics!, its guess what SF stands for in the context of Alex Bkk’s comment!.

        Either, he’s not Sausage Fest material or he’s just given up trying.

        Either, he’s not Salamander Fingers material or he’s just given up trying.

        1. Either, he’s not Supervisor Fatigues material or he’s just given up trying.

          1. Ha ha ha… point driven in! I’m S* F***** up I cant type

            I think I win in the clever department.

        2. I had some Salamander Fingers for my tea. Tasty.

    3. I think Massa hasn’t recovered from the accident and not sure if he will 100% recovered ever. I mean to drive an F1 car.
      Maybe it’s just me but I think his appearance has changed dramatically since the accident, his eyes now look more “distant”… not sure, just look at the pics when the two Ferrari guys are showing their hand impressions for the Hall of Fame from this weekend and you will know what I’m talking about.

      1. I know its been said a few times recently, but Professor Sid Watkins said it would take Massa 2 years to recover fully, so there’s still time yet.

        As long as he can get his qualifying sorted, he’s definitely a chance of being much closer to Alonso next year.

  10. Out of these nine Poles Vettel has taken,
    this was a very well deserved pole for Vettel….
    Lets see if he can keep himself out of Trouble…

  11. Let it rain…let it rain OOOOOH Let ittttt raaaaaaaaaaaain

  12. Once again, Rosberg does a super job, yet is pretty much ignored by the BBC commentators. So it’s nice to see him get some deserved recognition on the best F1 blog.

    1. In fairness to the BBC commentators the cameras rarely picked up Rosberg as far as I remember, which is a shame as like you say, he did a great job, again.

    2. Rosberg is often ignored when doing excellent stirling work for the team.The BBC commentators are more interested in ensuring the FIA know that Rubens is “really cool” but upset by MSC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    3. He’s got his own logo for crying out loud… He needs no more bigging up! :)

      Seriously though, you are right of course.

  13. Can someone explain to me why massa only did one quick lap?

    1. He used an extra set in q2 I believe so only had one fresh set.

Comments are closed.