Hungarian pole to Alonso, Massa to hospital

Hungarian pole to Alonso, Massa to hospital

It's Renault for go after the most confused -- and alarming -- Formula One qualifying of the season Saturday at the Hungaroring ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix of Hungary. Felipe Massa is taken to the hospital after his crash. Photo by ...

It's Renault for go after the most confused -- and alarming -- Formula One qualifying of the season Saturday at the Hungaroring ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix of Hungary.

Felipe Massa is taken to the hospital after his crash.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The pole-setting final qualifying segment was delayed after Ferrari driver Felipe Massa crashed heavily into the tire barriers, after he appeared to have been struck by debris that possibly broke off the rear suspension of fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP near the end of the second of three sessions. The session was suspended.

Massa, 28, appears to have braked, black rubber streaks bearing out the action, but his F60 ran off the circuit at Turn 4 to crash straight on and heavily into a tire barrier. He sat slumped forward for full moments before the sport's medical team arrived to remove him from the car.

Awake, he was able to wave to the crowd as he was placed on a stretcher and into an ambulance. Barrichello went to see Massa at the track medical center and reported he was awake and alert.

Massa was in short order helicoptered to the AKE Hospital in Budapest with cuts above the right eye, a concussion as well as a skull fracture. Images published after the crash shower that the debris -- likely Barrichello's rear spring -- had broken through the helmet, bloodying and bruising the area around his left eye.

Automobile Federation (FIA) spokeswoman said Massa was in stable condition; however, he is being kept in the hospital's intensive care unit for observation. Ferrari confirmed that he will not participate in Sunday's race.

After that delay, the pole determination was held up. Renault ace Fernando Alonso scooped top spot ahead of Renault-powered Red Bull runners Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber but had to wait out the acknowledgment as the track's timing and scoring system went missing, leaving a full list of times unavailable.

Fernando Alonso, Renault F1 Team.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Teams told drivers their times based on telemetry readings, which left Alonso to poll drivers in parc ferme to learn if he had secured his first pole position in nearly two years.

"Twenty-one-five," Alonso was heard to say repeatedly of his 1 minute, 21.5 second effort around the 2.722-mile circuit in the I'll-tell-you-mine, you-tell-me-yours exercise.

"Twenty-two-five," Brawn GP's Jenson Button said.

"Twenty-one-seven," came McLaren Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton, then Alonso's teammate for the Spaniard's 2007 pole at Monza, Italy.

Hamilton's fourth is his best qualifying effort this season and emphasizes great strides made in the MP/4-24's performance the past two races. Following Hamilton are Nico Rosberg of Williams F1 in his best starting spot since a fourth at Malaysia, Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren ahead of fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari, Button, and Rosberg teammate Kazuki Nakajima.

Massa, whose time listed at eighth after two sessions, was 10th by the end of the qualifying session in which he took no part.

Drivers assembled at the weigh station as grid order uncertainty lingered. Commercial rights majordomo Bernie Ecclestone popped up to joke with drivers and an accumulating body of press officers before word was confirmed and Alonso, Vettel and Webber returned to pit lane to wave to the crowd.

"It was quite a stressful qualifying, to be honest" Alonso said. "In Q1, we had a yellow flag, from Toro Rosso, I think, in terms of teams, so we were P15 at that moment. And had to get a lap to go through Q1. We did it, at the end, and in Q3, the times were not working so we were waiting in parc ferme, you know, chatting, between us, between the drivers, 'What time you did?' 'What time you did?' 'What time you did?' to try to find in which position you were. So now arrive confirmation. We are on pole. Fantastic effort from the team, you know, putting some new stuff on the car that worked very well. Here, we confirm that we need a step forward. It's not enough. We need to keep working, but finally we found the good action."

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Only Nelson Piquet failed to get the Renault memo. The underperforming Brazilian who conceded this week Sunday's might be his last race for the team qualified 15th for the 20-car race.

Vettel beamed his usual sunshiney smile, undeterred even by starting on the track's notorious dirty side. Can of Pledge, anyone?

"It was a pretty difficult start to the weekend," Vettel said. "Overnight we did a good step. I'm also looking very confident for the race. We should be good tomorrow, but, for sure, I think the biggest challenge, no matter if you're first, second or third, the threat from behind with the cars equipped with KERS is big, so we'll see quite a run down to Turn 1."

Webber said he dropped time in Turn 2 on his fast lap. The result means lining up behind Alonso on the clean side of the track.

"Sebastian and I are in a position tomorrow to capitalize on some good points, hopefully," Webber said. "The KERS cars will be arriving on the straight somewhere, we don't know when, but it's the way it is."

The keenest KERS threat is that of World Champion Hamilton, whose power burst of recovered energy at the start of the most recent race, in Germany, put the fifth-starting Englishman alongside front-starting Webber into Turn 1 only for the McLaren to have a tire clipped by the Red Bull. The resultant flat mired Hamilton among backmarkers for the rest of the race. McLarens in fourth and sixth and Ferraris in seventh and 10th are the only KERS cars in the field for Sunday's race. Hamilton and Kovalainen were consistently quick through three practices, promising to stay out front should they get there.

Alonso will start on a fuel load suspected at relative teaspoonfuls. The Spaniard spoke of an "aggressive strategy" quickly taken to mean low fuel on a track seen as one of the most difficult on which to pass. Heavy fueling for qualifying, he said, might have put him eighth on the grid, not good enough for the serious points result he seeks.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Drivers' points leader Button is surrounded by K cars in eighth place, his lowest grid spot of the season. His final quali session was affected by the damage to teammate Barrichello's. The team needed to inspect his BGP 001 for a lengthy spell before releasing him to finish qualifying.

In a return to early form, thanks to some new aero kit, Scuderia Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi, 20, pulled up in 11th spot. From his perspective, the senior rookie in the field, indeed in his team, claimed superiority over two Toyotas and a Brawn. Jarno Trulli is next in the top Toyota. Barrichello was left in 13th spot after his suspension fell apart. The Brazilian is ahead of Toyota's Timo Glock.

Piquet outqualified BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld. The Force Indias of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adria Sutil came next even after early signs showed hope of the veteran Italian reaching the second qualifying session.

BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica shares the back row with junior rookie Jaime Alguersuari, whose STR4 came to a halt in the first session. Through a count of days, Alguersuari, 19, becomes the youngest driver to qualify for a Formula One race.

The BMW Saubers appear to have washed up as the series' official Forlorn Hope, Kubica telling reporters they don't even understand why they aren't faster.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nelson Piquet , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Robert Kubica , Timo Glock , Sebastian Vettel , Kazuki Nakajima , Sébastien Buemi , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso , Williams , Renault F1 Team , Brawn GP