By Hillary Chinyere.
Harare, 6 July 2014, 12.00 CAT.
As I saw Prof Jonathan Moyo at Cde. Sakupwanya’s burial, I just wondered when or if Formula 1 will ever return to the ZBC-TV silver screens. Maybe our national cricket team’s matches should be screened first?
After overshadowing Nico Rosberg for the better part of the practice sessions, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton’s blunder in final qualifying made him succumb to P6 on a tricky Silverstone Circuit. Hamilton abandoned his penultimate flying lap after going through the first sector due to the then prevailing wet conditions. Had he stayed on long enough, he could have claimed pole position on a day when Jenson Button qualified on his best grid position thus far this season, P3 and the Marrussia pair of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton gave their team its best grid line-up ever, P12 and P13respectively. Briton Max Chilton will however start on P17 as he serves a 5-grid penalty for a gearbox change.
In a similar scenario, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel qualified at his best in the V6 era on P2. Teammate Daniel Ricciardo had to settle for P8 as he missed out on the final stages of Q3 whilst waiting for conditions on the track to improve. At one stage in the closing moments of qualifying, Vettel was on purple, before Nico Rosberg made his grand flying lap two seconds than the more decorated German.
After running wide in Maggots as he tried to raise his tyre temperature, Sergio Perez qualified on P7, three places behind German teammate Nico Hulkenburg. Checo had to apologise after making a sexist joke about Susie Wolff who became the first female driver to participate in a Formula 1 event in 22 years.
The F-14Ts of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen qualified right at the back but will start on P16 and P18, respectively. Kimi was also quoted by the British media as saying he will retire as soon as his Ferrari contract expires at the end of the 2015 season.
Even though Toro Rosso later shied away from further pushing after deterioration of track conditions, they were still able to surprise me by making it into Q3 and with it, a fifth row on the 2014 British Grand Prix grid. Daniil Kvyat qualified on P9 ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne on P10.
Romain Grosjean managed a well-deserved P11 as he narrowly missed Q3. Pastor Maldonado qualified on P15 but will start the race on P20 on the grid as he was left with less than 1000cm3 of fuel which is mandatory for post-qualification inspection.
It was a bad day for Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez. After failing to better his 14th position in Q2 due to a spin which shattered the British dreams of other drivers, the Mexican will start on P19 as he serves a 10-place grid penalty incurred in Austria. Adrian Sutil failed to make a time in Q2 and provisionally made P16, but will start on P13 on the grid as he benefited from the penalties of other drivers.
As a result of flawed strategy, Williams’ pair of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa only managed P17 and P18 but will start on P14 and P15 respectively. At the stewards’ mercy, Caterhams of Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi were allowed to occupy the back of the grid after they had fallen victim of the 107% rule.
My team of the day was Marussia, as their exceptionally timed switch to the slick Pirelli tyre compound enabled the hard-working team to get their best ever grid positions. If not for Esteban Gutierrez’s spin which brought out yellow flags, were the Marussias able to make P7 and P8?