I was awake for the very end of Formula 1's qualifying sessions at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona (map below) Saturday morning (yes, it was 6:00 a.m.; no, you don't want to know), running on a treadmill in a hotel fitness center that, amazingly, carried SPEED Channel.
Mind you, I haven't watched much F1 this year. Of course, I haven't watched much of any racing this year, given that I'm scrambling to a deadline and have chained myself to my computer.
But there I was, looking for entertainment as I (slowly) pounded out a couple miles. And I was as shocked as anyone to encounter an F1 qualifying session that made my heart pound. Seriously, I couldn't have written a more thrilling qualifying script (unless Kate was in Lewis Hamilton's shoes and car). This is what qualifying is supposed to be.
The clock ticked down. Teams waited, some planning to skip the qualifying session because they didn't have enough tires. Others were playing strategy. Lewis Hamilton was the only driver with a time on the board, a 1:22:56, the same time (within 15/100 of a second) as he'd set in all three rounds of qualifying.
Then, with less than three minutes to go, Rosberg, Perez, Raikkonen, Grojean, Alonso, Maldonado go out. So does Hamilton. Most of them begin their flying laps with 30, 20, or 15 seconds left on the qualifying clock. This is the only lap that will count.
Seconds later, Pastor Maldonado (right) in the Williams-Renault takes pole away from Alonso in the Ferrari. Wait, what? Williams?!?! Seconds after that, Hamilton crosses the line a half-second faster than Maldonado and 0.7 seconds faster than his previous best, taking pole for McLaren Mercedes. The announcers were giddy, my jaw was on the floor. When's the last time F1 was this much fun? Was this unpredictable?
Of course, this was only a prelude to more shockers the rest of the weekend: Hamilton being stripped of pole for not having enough fuel in the car, Williams winning its first race since 2004, and a massive fire breaking out in the Williams pits after the race was over. Crazy weekend.
Did you all watch? Or did you have eyeballs on the Lady in Black?