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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Qualifying: Spanish Grand Prix

It all came down to the final seconds of qualifying today as half a dozen contenders swapped P1 between them at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Kimi Raikkonen came out on top, swiping pole from the clutches of hometown favorite Fernando Alonso.

The Finn was pleased with the result.

“It is a nice feeling. I have been trying to get it,” said Raikkonen. “It should give us a better chance for tomorrow. It is only qualifying but it is a good place to be.”

Alonso’s Renault was one of the true surprises of the session. Even if he is on a light fuel load, the French squad has gone a long way to proving its performance in testing last week was no fluke.

This was clearly a happier Fernando then we have seen all season.

“It is unbelievable. It's difficult to describe or say anything as the team did a huge effort to improve the car,” Alonso said. “We keep doing work. We started the season with a little bit of disappointment because maybe in the winter we expected to be a bit stronger than we were in the first few races.

“Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to work even harder after the disappointments,” he continued. “The team made a step here and they have very aggressive plans to come in the coming races, so step-by-step we need to raise our level. That makes me very happy and hopeful of things for the future.”

Felipe Massa took P3. The Brazilian was quick at times, but just couldn’t put it all together when it counted.

“No, I just couldn't put a lap together on the last try. On the first try I put a lap together but it's not there to be honest,” Massa said. “In competition like today, in all the sessions we saw that if you lose a tenth you can lose one or two positions. I put a lap together at the wrong moment but we have a good car.”

Robert Kubica will start next to him in fourth, in the first of the constructor's championship leading BMW Saubers.

McLaren has been having a bit of a difficult weekend, and quali was no different. While both drivers looked threatening at times, fifth and sixth were the best they could manage. The Silver Arrows have their work cut out for them if they are to pick up a podium this weekend.

Mark Webber, Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Nelson Piquet round out the top ten.

With the exception of Trulli, Honda, Toyota and Williams found themselves in a familiar spot -- locked out of Q3.

Sebastien Bourdais turned in one of the more impressive drives of the day. The Frenchman put his Toro Rosso into the second session, leaving his highly-rated teammate, Sebastian Vettel, on the outside looking in.

Less impressive, David Coulthard was eliminated in the first session, while his teammate placed ten spots up on him. The Scot was “shocked” with his performance, blaming traffic and cooling tires for his poor final run.

Still no improvement for Force India, mired in 19th and 20th, and Super Aguri rounded out the field in 21st and 22nd.

That’s how it all sets up for the Spanish Grand Prix. The last seven pole sitters have won this race, and while Raikkonen isn’t assuming a race win is a done deal, it’s clear he likes his starting position.

“Last year we couldn't finish the race, but for sure we should have good speed in the race as long as we get a clean start. We are confident in ourselves and the team,” he said. “We need a good clean first few corners and then try to maximise our position and do the best job we can. But this is the best place for sure to try and win the race.” Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think DC was over confident. He went out for his last hot lap on the hard compound. I don't think anyone else tried that.

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