Judging by the comments and from watching the qualifying in my hotel room, the grid-deciding for the Canadian Grand Prix was certainly exciting. Sebastian Vettel couldn’t take part following an accident which rendered his Scuderia Toro Rosso undriveable for the afternoon, and then his team mate suffered a problem with his gear box in this morning’s warm-up. Although Sebastien Bourdais has been given a five grid-slot penalty, news sites on the internet are undecided if he will start in 19th or 20th.
Strictly speaking, penalties are worked out in the order they are given, which would put the French driver in 20th. However, Vettel’s complete lack of running could alter this. Either way, unless another driver in the bottom five has a problem, the Rosso drivers will hog the back row.
The track surface at the hairpin has had a large impact on running, and the organisers have apparently attempted to re-surface the corner over night. With the tarmac crumbling away we could be seeing more drama at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve before the race. But all this aside, some drivers did exceptionally well during qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton took a barn-storming pole position and almost lost it to BMW’s Robert Kubica. In the final ten minute session it looked as though Hamilton was comfortable at the top, and initially it looked as though only Kimi Raikkonen would spoil the party. However, the Finn’s final attempt didn’t go well and the Ferrari driver could only manage third. Robert Kubica snatched the top-spot away from the Briton on his final pass, but Hamilton’s last gasp lap was more than enough to take pole at the circuit where he scored his maiden win last year.
Fernando Alonso drove well throughout Saturday and took a fine fourth place. However, the Spaniard appears to still have issues with the first sequence of corners. Alonso ran wide and jumped over the grass yesterday, just as he did during the race last year. However, you can’t knock a fourth place grid slot, especially when his team mate is languishing back in fifteenth. Let’s just hope Alonso can keep it together for the race and score some decent points for Renault.
Nico Rosberg is another driver who is running well in Canada, the German pilot putting his Williams in fifth, ahead of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari. Rubens Barrichello quietly sneaked into Q3 and ended up nineth after Mark Webber couldn’t take part having binned his Red Bull as he drove back to the pits having made it into the final round.
David Coulthard didn’t enjoy his Saturday running, complaining of other drivers holding him up and suggesting that it was done on purpose. The Toyota’s are also off-pace a little, with one-lap master Jarno Trulli not even able to get ahead of his team mate Timo Glock. Jenson Button had a poor afternoon as well, and the Toro Rosso drivers are helping the Force Indias by claiming the back row for themselves.
Canada 2008: Qualifying Results
|10.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||*No Time||Q3|
|13.||David Coulthard||Red Bull Racing||1m18.238s||Q2|
|15.||Nelson Piquet Jr.||Renault||1m18.393s||Q2|
|16.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1m19.108s||Q1|
|17.||Giancarlo Fisichella||Force India||1m19.165s||Q1|
|19.||Sebastien Bourdais||Scuderia Toro Rosso||**1m18.916s||Q1|
|20.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Toro Rosso||***No Time||Q1|
*Mark Webber spun and damaged his Red Bull at the end of Q2 after setting a fast lap – he was unable to take part in Q3.
**Sebastien Bourdais had to receive a new gearbox before he was allowed after morning practice. The French driver had qualified 16th, but will not start alongside his team mate on the back row.
***Sebastian Vettel damaged his car during morning practice and was unable to take part in qualifying.