Young Spanish star Fernando Alonso blazed a trail to pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix in what was a close fight to the end of the Saturday qualifying session. The Renault driver clocked a brilliant 1:21.688, just two tenths faster than...
Young Spanish star Fernando Alonso blazed a trail to pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix in what was a close fight to the end of the Saturday qualifying session. The Renault driver clocked a brilliant 1:21.688, just two tenths faster than the Williams of Ralf Schumacher who couldn't quite find the speed to beat him. A very good third for Jaguar's Mark Webber left Williams's Juan Pablo Montoya the next best championship contender in fourth.
Toyota's Cristiano da Matta was up next after a spin in qualifying yesterday that left him last on the timesheet. The Brazilian was nearly two seconds up by sector two and clocked 1:23.982, a much more representative time. Nicolas Kiesa was the first Minardi out, the Dane having a poor weekend due to car failures so far. Kiesa was a second down in sector one and went well wide at turn nine which lost him a lot; he finished behind Baumgartner.
Jos Verstappen was an improvement and slotted into second behind da Matta, two-and-a-half seconds down. Giancarlo Fisichella completed the first group and the Jordan driver was on the pace in sector one. By two he was three tenths up and clocked a 1:23.726 for provisional pole, a very good lap for the Italian.
Justin Wilson kicked off the second group, still on his probationary period with Jaguar. The Brit pipped Fisichella to pole with a 1:23.660, just a couple of hundredths quicker. Jacques Villeneuve was two tenths up in sector one and in two but lost out hugely in the last sector and only managed fourth for BAR. Teammate Jenson Button followed on and was up on Wilson initially but lost a bit at turn eleven, but still finished ahead of Villeneuve in third.
Kimi Raikkonen was the first of the big guns to emerge, not a great time for the McLaren to be out as the track conditions were still not great. Half a second up in sector one was not a surprise and he followed up with two more good ones to take provisional pole by nearly a second with a 1:22.742. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was next and had a bit of slide at turn two which lost him time. The Sauber looked quite good yesterday but Frentzen was off the pace in this session by nearly two seconds in seventh.
Teammate Nick Heidfeld started the third group and was not too shabby in the first sector but kicked up a bit of dust in the second. It didn't put him off too much and he slid into second, eight tenths down on Raikkonen. Michael Schumacher was also an unusual early runner, the Ferrari down in ninth yesterday. Eight thousandths up in one, Michael was pushing hard but fell away in the middle slightly which put him second, despite being nearly four tenths faster in the last sector.
Montoya was the first Williams and belted out a stunner of a lap. Up a tenth in one, five hundredths in two and pulled out by half a second to cross the line with a 1: 22.180 for provisional pole. Olivier Panis in the second Toyota didn't manage to hold his pace from yesterday but produced a decent fourth. Alonso had a fairly mediocre first sector but was six tenths up in the middle and thundered through the final corners to blast across the line with a staggering 1:21.688. Nearly half a second up on Montoya for the Renault driver, a remarkable effort for pole.
The final group started with Rubens Barrichello, the second Ferrari three tenths up in sector one and just a hundredth up in two. But the last sector went away from him and he was half a second down -- exactly the same time as Montoya. The Colombian held second though, as he set the time first. David Coulthard had a bit of a moment when the McLaren stalled as he was leaving the garage but he made it out onto track.
The Scot was a fraction up in one but had dropped down nearly a second by the end of two. He crossed the line a disappointing sixth, two places behind teammate Raikkonen and one and a half seconds down on pole. Webber was a tenth up in sector one, the Jaguar looking handy until he kicked up dust but he still posted a very good second position, just three tenths down on Alonso.
Ralf Schumacher was the penultimate runner, the Williams already half second up in one. He dropped slightly in the middle but clawed back in the final sector for second, two tenths down. So what could Jarno Trulli do? Pole man yesterday, could he beat teammate Alonso? Slightly down in one, Trulli had a bucketload of oversteer in the middle and it went away from him at the end, finishing sixth.
A fabulous result for Alonso, a scorcher of a lap that was a deserved pole position. Renault have been on the pace all weekend but even Alonso did not expect his time to hold. With the likes of the Spaniard and Webber up front, it promises to be an interesting race tomorrow. Raikkonen has a lot to do if he wants his championship chances kept realistic and Michael is going to have to work hard too. The Williams duo isn't going to be hanging around - let's just keep it clean off the line please lads. Final top eight classification: Alonso, R. Schumacher, Webber, Montoya, Barrichello, Trulli, Raikkonen, M.Schumacher.