Saturdays on a Race Weekend are long and start early. The Morning Pit Lane Walk allows guests to witness teams practicing their Pit Stops for the race. It is then followed by Free Practice 3 in which the drivers run Qualifying Simulations culminating in the Qualifying Sessions that happen in the afternoon.
For the Hardcore followers, the action doesn't end with the F1 Qualifying. The GP2 Feature Race and the GP3 Race 1 follows shortly after.
A quick write up of how it all unfolded on the Saturday.
Enroute to the Circuit :
Shots of Hungaroring on Saturday Morning :
Saturday Morning Pit Lane Walks feature Pit Stop Practices by the teams :
Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :
Shots of the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Garage :
Scuderia Ferrari firing up before Free Practice 3 ( Video Link ) :
Manor Racing F1 Team Pit Stop Practice ( Video Links ) :
Renault Sport F1 Team Pit Stop Practice ( Video Links ) :
Sahara Force India F1 Team Pit Stop Practice ( Video Links ) :
GoPro Selfies from the Pit Lane Walk :
A Quick Tour of the Paddock Club on Saturday Morning ( Video Link ) :
The Ferrari F1 Club on Saturday Morning :
Shots from Free Practice 3 :
Scuderia Ferrari F1 during Free Practice 3 :
Chequered Flag to end Free Practice 3 :
Nico Rosberg was fastest in FP3 again from Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
Marc Gene visited us in the Paddock Club for a quick interview after Free Practice 3. He also discussed the prospects of the team in Qualifying.
Marc Gene in the Ferrari F1 Club :
A quick selfie with Marc Gene :
Marc Gene in the Ferrari F1 Club on Saturday ( Video Link ) :
Marc Gene left and we were soon joined by Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Racing Manager. He spoke about the Tyre Choices of Pirelli for the weekend and the performance of the tyres so far.
Mario Isola Interview ( Video Link ) :
The Menu for Saturday :
I had a quick lunch and then ran downstairs for the Pit Lane Walk before Qualifying. The skies suddenly turned overcast and before we knew it, it started raining buckets on the circuit!
Thankfully I had the GoPro which works flawlessly in the rain and was able to capture some stills from the walk :
I also got to meet some famous people from the F1 Fraternity.
David Coulthard, ex McLaren Mercedes driver, currently associated with Red Bull Racing and a presenter for Channel 4 in F1.
Martin Brundle, ex F1 Racer and Sky Sports F1 Presenter :
Simon Lazenby of Sky Sports F1 :
Ayao Komatsu, Race Engineer for Romain Grosjean :
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal of the Haas F1 team :
Tanja Bauer of Sky Deutschland :
I returned to the Paddock Club and the rains didn't show any sign of relenting.
The Pit Walls were full of personnel and the start was delayed ( by 20 minutes ) in the hope that standing water would be drained off the circuit. The Drainage is pretty efficient at the circuit.
Scuderia Ferrari Mechanics drying the pit box before Q1 got underway :
Dave Greenwood, Kimi's Race Engineer signalling to the Number 1 Mechanic about the timing of Kimi Raikkonen's exit from the Garage :
Cars lining up at Pit Exit before the light turns green to start Q1 :
The Session got underway and then the rain came down with intensity again.
Returning to the pits after the Red Flag :
The safety car left the pit lane to assess the conditions again :
Cars lining up again at the Pit Exit for the session restart :
Time to put in that flying lap :
Marcus Ericsson suffered a heavy shunt with 9 minutes on the clock remaining. The Red Flags were out again and we had a further stoppage of 10 minutes.
The Mechanics drying the Pit Box :
Green Lights and the Red Bulls with the Ferraris opted for Inters while the rest stuck with the Wet tyres. The Session had just restarted and then it was Felipe Massa who suffered a crash!
The Cars lining up at the Pit Exit for the 3rd time.
Times were set by all but the session would see its 4th Stoppage as Rio Haryanto suffered a crash with 2 minutes on the clock. This time Race Control decided to run down the session. 4 Stoppages and Q1 had lasted for 75 minutes!!
Q1 ended with Jolyon Palmer, Magnussen, Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein and Haryanto being knocked out. Nico Rosberg was fastest in Q1. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finishing 4th and 8th respectively.
Ricciardo, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Perez, Bottas, Palmer, Massa, Magnussen, Ericsson, Wehrlein and Haryanto failed to meet the 107% requirement, so raced at stewards' discretion. Haryanto was penalised 5 grid places for an unscheduled gearbox change and Ericsson started from the pit lane after a chassis change. There was a lot of debate over the legitimacy of the 107 % Rule but good sense prevailed and the rule was not upheld citing the changeable weather conditions in the session.
Q2 started and everyone headed out on Intermediates. Amazingly, the sun came out and the track started to dry very quickly. Bottas the first to opt for slicks set a good pace ( inspite of wet patches ) and everyone was convinced to switch to slicks. It was pretty clear that the last man to cross the line would set the fastest time. Raikkonen crossed the line supposedly taking P1 amidst great cheers from the crowds. However in the next 30 seconds, the times collapsed very quickly and Raikkonen ended up in P14 and out of Q2!! Another shock for Ferrari and another miscalculation on their part. They had just blown the chance of a potential podium. Kimi had looked stronger of the two and has been strong on this circuit.
Lewis Hamilton went into Q3 by the skin of his teeth as the time set by him was good enough for P10. A big scare for the Triple World Champion.
Grosjean, Kvyat, Perez, Gutierrez and Nasr were the others eliminated.
Max Verstappen was the fastest in Q2. Nico Rosberg P2 and Sebastian Vettel P6.
Shots from Q2 :
Scuderia Ferrari F1 in Q2 :
Q3 would produce its own drama. Hamilton was going faster than everyone else on his final run but Alonso spun in Sector 2 and that brought out the yellow flags. Hamilton had to abort his lap. Rosberg a few corners behind lifted on seeing the yellow flags and yet went purple in sector 2 ( fastest time overall ) and crossed the line to beat Hamilton's provisional pole lap time set earlier to snatch pole. Hamilton was a bit flummoxed as to how that happened but the stewards ruled that Rosberg had lifted on his flying lap and the results stayed. Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel completed the top 5.
Shots from Q3 :
The Media gathering on Parc Ferme as the top 3 celebrate their Qualifying positions.
The Qualifying got over and we were soon to be joined by Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari F1 Club. Everyone wondered about the Iceman's mood but amazingly Kimi was quite chatty and very warm towards the guests!
Kimi Raikkonen Interview in the Ferrari F1 Club ( Video Link ) :
I finally had my moment with the man! He actually stopped, obliged me with a selfie and said "Thank you!!" My Weekend was made!
I returned and we had some time before the start of the GP2 Feature Race.
Miniatures of the Different Pirelli Compounds used in F1 Races :
GP2 Feature Race Formation Lap ( Video Link ) :
One of the Drivers stalled on the Grid and the Drivers had to go out for another Formation Lap.
GP2 Feature Race 2nd Formation Lap ( Video Link ) :
GP2 Feature Race Start ( Video Link ) :
Lap 1 of the GP2 Feature Race ( Video Link ) :
Shots from the GP2 Feature Race :
It was time to leave the club and I made my way back to the Transfer Point. The Delayed end to qualifying meant that we would be unable to watch the GP3 race from the Club.
The Paddock, almost empty with most of the guests gone.
On the way back from the circuit :
It had been a chaotic and crazy qualifying. The Sessions lasted long and the drama lasted into the wee hours of Sunday. Eventually all was sorted out for the race on Sunday.
It had been an eventful Saturday. Ferrari had a bad qualifying with Raikkonen and Vettel didn't seem to have the pace to challenge the Mercs or Red Bull. However Sunday is what mattered and we were pretty optimistic about our prospects.
Nevertheless, the service and hospitality was impeccable. Thank you to Scuderia Ferrari F1 and the Hosts of the Ferrari F1 Club for taking care of us throughout the day. A Big Thank You to Edge Global F1 for all the arrangements made for a trouble free weekend.
The Experience on Sunday follows...soon...