Will qualifying determine the 2012 champion?

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has only started on the front two rows once in the last seven races. That’s not an impressive qualifying performance and if Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has found his quali pace again, then surely the Sebastian scramble at the first of the race will do Ferrari in.

Vettel has taken a Formula One construct, Drag Reduction System or DRS, and made the most of its limitations. Specifically, the DRS is not used in the first three laps of a Formula 1 race and when the system is activated, you can only use it when you trail a car by no farther than one second. Vettel’s ability to scramble off three amazingly quick laps from pole position to place himself over one second ahead of his nearest rival  is nothing short of incredible.

If you assume Vettel and his Newey-powered Red Bull RB8 has found its form, you also have to consider that Ferrari have certainly found race pace as Alonso finished second at the India Grand Prix. The problem was he qualified behind Red Bull’s Mark Webber and both McLarens. He made a terrific pass on the first lap and took both McLaren but spent the rest of the race chasing down and eventually passing Webber.

If Ferrari are going to have hope in this championship, chances are that they will need ti find qualifying pace. Technical boss Pat Fry said:

“We’ve just got to keep on developing it. We’ve got another few updates coming for Abu Dhabi and then some more for America. So it’s not over yet and we’re going to keep pushing them as hard as we can,” Fry said.

“If we can improve our qualifying position…we make it too easy for Sebastian at the moment. He’s away and cruising. We need to put him under pressure so hopefully we will be doing it in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s going all the way down to Brazil.”

New kit, new pace and hopeful qualifying performance to get the F2012 close to Vettel at the start. The race pace is respectable but staying in touch with Vettel is difficult enough and if you start a race back in 5th, that’s nearly impossible. What do you think? Barring a mechanical failure, can Ferrari get on top of qualifying even though a one-lap pace has eluded them for much of the season?

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