Felipe Massa has sensationally beaten the local hero and championship leader to pole position ahead of tomorrows Spanish Grand Prix. In the final knock-out session between the fastest drivers in Barcelona, Alonso popped in a super quick lap on his penultimate run that saw him lead the pack by half a second. Team mate Lewis Hamilton couldn’t respond, Kimi Raikkonen couldn’t respond either, but Felipe Massa showed us all that he has pace by pulling a lap record from deep within himself. Alonso could do no more. Massa is on pole.
The first session was, as always, uneventful. Scott Speed reported issues with his gearbox and engine early in the 15 minute session, claiming that the engine was cutting out on the downshift. The issue, it was later reported, is centred around the new seamless shift ‘box, and now the problem has developed on Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Rosso, the team are likely to revert to the standard ‘box.
Interestingly, Anthony Davidson spent much of the session ahead of David Coulthard, despite the Red Bull seeing a vast improvement since the beginning of the season. And towards the back of the pack, Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were separated by only a thousandth of a second.
For the chop in Q1: Ralf Schumacher, Alex Wurz, Mark Webber, Adrian Sutil, Christijan Albers, Scott Speed.
Things heated up a little in qualifying part two, and after five minutes on non-action, David Coulthard went out and of course, went fastest. With nine minutes left on the clock, we started to see the demise of Super Aguri, with Davidson taking a trip through the gravel and onto the older part of the race track, and then moments later, Takuma Sato parked his Aguri at turn 11.
Due to Sato’s car being stranded for a couple of minutes on the outside of turn 11, yellow flags were waved, and most drivers ventured into the pitlane, aborting any current lap. However, Lewis Hamilton seemed to have timed his departure perfectly, as when the young Brit approached the danger zone, the Aguri was just about removed and the flags pulled in. Whatever Lewis’ lucky charm is, it worked this time around. That lap saw a new record at Circuit de Catalunya, and Lewis went P1 for the time being.
Ferrari upped their game considerably though, and minutes later Felipe Massa laid down the first gauntlet by breaking Hamilton’s record. Q2 was over, and Massa took control. BMW improved as Heidfeld was high up the tables in fifth, Kubica just behind in sixth. But ultimately, the timing sheet was dominated by Ferrari and McLaren, alternating from first to fourth.
For the chop in Q2: Nico Rosberg, Rubens Barrichello, Takuma Sato, Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson, Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Lewis Hamilton led the queue of cars on the track for qualifying part three, and despite Massa looking like he wanted to get by the silver McLaren, Hamilton stood his ground with the Brazilian and lead the cars tour of Circuit de Catalunya. Alonso initially remained in the garage, either making last second preparations or playing games with the competition, he did however soon join the track. Interestingly, just prior to the pit stops with seven minutes left, David Coulthard set the fastest speed through the trap, clocking up 310kmh.
After the pit break, it was Lewis Hamilton who first set a quick lap, passing the line in 1m22.2s. However, moments later Kimi Raikkonen quashed that with a 1m22.0s. Felipe Massa couldn’t top Raikkonen, but he did push Hamilton down to third. And then came Alonso who asserted his authority with a 1m21.661s. The crowd literally went crazy.
A quick dash down the pit lane and they were off again, this time it was the final lap for qualifying three, and described in the first paragraph, Alonso couldn’t quite repeat the penultimate lap. Massa took the pole, and Ferrari and McLaren again alternated the grid slots. The BMW’s were split by Trulli’s Toyota, and Renault took eighth and tenth, Kovalainen beating Fisichella.
For a final look at all the grid positions for tomorrows Spanish Grand Prix, click here to read the post.
It was a pretty eventful qualifying session for a change!
It seemed all set to be a showdown between the 2 McLaren drivers, especially when Alonso posted his lap which was half a second quicker at that time – ITV’s James Allen still seemed fairly confident Hamilton could beat that if he wanted to lol.
I’m not sure where Massa found the speed to beat Alonso, but I hope he hasn’t just gone too light on fuel in order to ensure pole – he is under immense pressure within the team just now after Kimi’s good start to the season and I for one would be quite pleased to see Felipe come out on top in that battle.
Good to see DC have a relatively good qualifying session to confirm that Red Bull have found some extra pace after the testing last week – hopefully Webber’s problems won’t raise their heads again for either driver in the race itself.
Time will tell who has done a really good job in qualifying romorrow as the race unfolds and we get to see the fuel levels of the respective drivers.
Having the two McLaren’s on one side and the two Ferrari’s on the other is going to be interesting. It seems Alonso has taken the Reanult starting mechanism with him to McLaren, as they’ve been getting of the lines quite well so far. Being line astern, I think Ferrari are going to have to work hard to keep the McMercs behind on tomorrows opening lap. After that? Well Ferrari appear to have the pace, even though they kept much of under wraps until qualifying. I think Massa – providing he doesn’t do anything stupid – should beat Raikkonen. But whether or not he can win it is another question. Alonso is really heated at the moment and knows that if he can make a break now, he can maintain his lead in the title and build some momentum which he likes so much.