Wow! What a qualifying session that was. I will admit to being British, and I will also admit to being a little sick and tired of all the hype surrounding the young rookie at McLaren at the moment. But I’ll also admit, now, that he possibly deserves the hype. In the last throes of qualifying for tomorrows British Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso laid the gauntlet down, Felipe Massa struggled to match, but Kimi Raikkonen went a fraction quicker. It all came down to the second McLaren driver, and he simply nailed it. Lewis Hamilton will start his home Grand Prix tomorrow from pole position.
Qualifying one went about its usual business, eliminating the slowest six drivers and relegating them to spectator status. What was perhaps a little odd about Q1 though, was the inclusion of the improving Honda of Jenson Button. At home, performing to his audience, the Japanese car just couldn’t do it. Jenson ended his Saturday afternoon in 18th. Possibly one reason for his poor grid slot comes down to the second British driver to be powered by a Honda engine, Anthony Davidson. Davidson has been pretty much on fire this weekend, regularly imposing his Super Aguri on the top ten elite. However, towards the end of the session he passed Button on track, but as he went through the final complex and while warming his tyres up, Anthony dropped his car into the gravel and brought out the yellow flags. This incident not only caused Davidson to be one of the first to drop out of qualifying, but it affected Button’s flying lap one and half minutes later.
The other surprise in Q1 is Nico Rosberg. Up until today, the German driver has been nailing each and every qualifying lap, developing a bit of a reputation as a fast qualifier and handy one-lapper. Nico’s 17th place wasn’t his fault though, as his Toyota-powered Williams was apparently misfiring on his quick lap, and he sustained a loss of power going down the two long straights, meaning a reduction in top speed of around 20 km/h.
The Renault’s are looking good for tomorrow, with Giancarlo Fisichella taking a continued beating from his Finnish team mate and finishing behind Heikki Kovalainen again. Fisichella places his Renault in eighth, while Heikki pops into seventh. Another team to see a differing qualifying order is BMW. Up until Robert Kubica’s accident, team mate Nick Heidfeld had managed to get the legs on Kubica, out-qualifying him in all the previous races. However, since Robert took the US Grand Prix off, and returned in France, the tables have turned. At Magny Cours, Robert qualified a career best fourth, while Nick settled for seventh. And today at Silverstone, Kubica is placed fifth and Heidfeld ninth.
Ralf Schumacher shocked the Formula One fraternity when he managed to get into the final stage of qualifying. He then continued to shock the paddock by out-qualifying his team mate. Yes, Ralf is closer to the front than Jarno. I suspect the German driver is giddy with excitement right at this moment. But on a slightly serious note, and credit due to Ralf, he had a good afternoon today and capitalised on the cars ability to cope with the bumps and cross-winds that this circuit offers. Ralf is in sixth, Jarno is in tenth.
The two Red Bull’s pretty much kept themselves to themselves today, with Mark Webber claiming eleventh and David Coulthard alongside in twelfth. The lack of Q3 action will cause disappointment among the squad, but being the best of the rest and being able to run whatever fuel they chose will be of a small consolation.
Alex Wurz leads the Williams duo, although unfortunately for the British team, it is from thirteenth place. I think it is fair to say that the team would like to pretend today never happened. And right behind the Williams is the lead Honda of Rubens Barrichello, starting tomorrows race in fourteenth. I suspect the Brackley-based squad are another lot who would like to rewind the clock and start qualifying over.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso’s are line astern on the grid in fifteenth and sixteenth, Scott Speed getting the better of team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi. And that brings us back to the Q1 knock-outs and completes the grid with Spyker trailing at the back, sandwiching the second Super Aguri of Takuma Sato.
All eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton though, as the young driver really did pull his fastest lap today right from deep within. Running behind Fernando Alonso all day, Lewis worked hard to get his lap in and has really impressed many people with his focus and ability to get the job done. While I’m still irked at the ITV coverage for the races at the moment (they introduced Alonso as Lewis’s team mate, as if that was the only way I’d remember who he was), today is definitely Hamilton’s. If he can hold it all together tomorrow and win, then I’ll eat humble pie, having already voted in my own poll on the homepage. Don’t forget to have your say on qualifying below in the comments, and make your vote count in the BlogF1 poll by clicking here.