It's a McLaren front row for the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso on pole position and Lewis Hamilton alongside in second.[*] Alonso clocked 1:19.674 after Hamilton failed to cross the line in time for a last flyer -- it appeared that ...
It's a McLaren front row for the Hungarian Grand Prix, with Fernando Alonso on pole position and Lewis Hamilton alongside in second.[*] Alonso clocked 1:19.674 after Hamilton failed to cross the line in time for a last flyer -- it appeared that Alonso deliberately held his teammate up in the pits but both drivers evaded the question in the press conference. Nick Heidfeld was third for BMW Sauber, while Ferrari had mixed results with Kimi Raikkonen fourth and Felipe Massa 14th.
It was fairly overcast at the start of the first 15 minute session, with a track temperature of around 40 degrees, but rain didn't appear to be imminent. There was, however, a quite strong wind. The Spykers of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto were quick to head out onto the circuit, along with Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso, Takuma Sato's Super Aguri and Heidfeld.
Alex Wurz was the first Williams to appear, then Jarno Trulli's Toyota and the second Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel. Sutil started proceedings with a time in the 1:24 bracket but was quickly demoted by Liuzzi and Sato. With 10 minutes to go Ralf Schumacher's Toyota appeared, Nico Rosberg's Williams, Anthony Davidson's Super Aguri and the Renaults of Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Wurz clocked 1:21.603 for the top then Trulli was a couple of tenths quicker, followed by Schumacher by about the same margin. Rosberg took second and Kovalainen was next to the top, 1:21.096. The Hondas of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello began to prepare for their runs, as did Red Bull's Mark Webber. Teammate David Coulthard was lying seventh and Webber went better for fourth.
Button took 12th and Hamilton blitzed the field with a 1:19.570 on his first flyer. Barrichello posted 12th and Heidfeld popped into second, over a second off Hamilton. The second BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica was seventh and Massa's Ferrari took over the second spot on his initial run. Alonso followed into third and the second Ferrari of Raikkonen managed fifth to start with.
The Finn moved up one to fourth and towards the back the Hondas were the ones in danger of being dropped with a couple of minutes to go. The top five decided not to go for another lap but the rest of the pack did. Davidson shot up to sixth then Trulli and Schumacher both moved ahead of Heidfeld. Kovalainen and Kubica did likewise and by the end Heidfeld was down to ninth but still safe.
Liuzzi just squeaked through to the second session but those who went out were Button, Barrichello, Sato, Vettel, Sutil and Yamamoto. Fisichella had hampered Yamamoto quite a bit on one of Yamamoto's flying laps and the stewards will investigate after qualifying. Hamilton remained at the top with his fastest lap of the weekend so far.
Wurz and Liuzzi led out in Q2 but it was a short while before anyone joined them. Wurz started with a 1:20.865, a decent improvement on his Q1 time. Liuzzi was over a second off then the Toyotas took over, Trulli 1:19.951 and Schumacher not far behind. Rosberg split them, and Webber followed, while Hamilton posted 1:19.301. Raikkonen slotted into third but was nearly a second down on the McLaren.
Massa made a mistake on his initial flyer and was 11th but Alonso had no problems and took second, three tenths off Hamilton. Massa then stopped in the pit lane and had to be pushed back to his box and there was only three minutes to go. Ferrari had a "misunderstanding" between the garage and the pit wall and had sent the Brazilian out with not enough fuel.
At the top, Hamilton, Alonso, Trulli and Raikkonen didn't bother going back out. Massa's afternoon was not getting any easier and he only managed 14th, struggling with cold tyres. Kubica just managed to stick with 10th to go through but Coulthard, Kovalainen, Wurz, the beleaguered Massa, Davidson and Liuzzi dropped out. Rather a disaster for Ferrari but the rest were no big surprise.
The McLarens headed the field as cars queued up to go out for the pole shootout session and the fuel burning got under way. Both Toyotas made the top 10, as did Rosberg, who's had competitive pace all weekend. Tyre choices were mixed throughout qualifying, the super-soft compound not being as favoured as expected. Heidfeld was an early leader, followed by Hamilton and Schumacher.
Trulli was the first in for tyres and he went out on the harder compound, as did teammate Schumacher. Raikkonen went for the softer option, while Alonso sat in his box for quite some time then a tyre blanket got caught in the wheel. But he got going again, on the harder tyre and Hamilton was on the soft. Trulli clocked 1:21.796 and Heidfeld and Schumacher went second and third.
Raikkonen was on a hot lap and posted 1:20.930, while Rosberg took second but then Heidfeld went fastest, then Alonso, followed by Hamilton with a 1:19.781. It was a very rapid-fire succession and there was enough time to do it all again. Hamilton was evidently very quick on the super-soft compound but others stuck to the harder version, Heidfeld seeming to go well on that.
Alonso again had a fairly long pause in his box, with Hamilton waiting behind him. Raikkonen improved to third and the chequered flag fell before Hamilton crossed the line to start another flyer. Alonso posted 1:19.674 to claim pole position -- Ron Dennis refused to comment at the time on whether the Spaniard intentionally delayed Hamilton. Stewards are investigating the matter.
"I think we have been very competitive all weekend," said Alonso. "From the first session to now in qualifying the car has performed really well here. The last couple of Grands Prix we didn't have the opportunity to beat the Ferraris in dry conditions, in normal conditions, and here I think we have a chance. So I think we can make it tomorrow if we have a good race, I think the performance is there."
Hamilton will go from second. "I think I've been very quick today which is good," he commented. "We have made improvements over the weekend, the team has done a fantastic job as always to get the car cooled down, so we were first out into Q3 and yeah, we had very good pace." He added about the tyres: "We obviously went in Q1 with the harder tyre and on Q2 with the softer and that was the preferred choice."
Heidfeld was very happy with third. "I think we have a good chance definitely," he said about getting on the podium. "I mean we are starting third, obviously the Ferraris are normally a bit quicker than us but here I think they are not as strong as they have been in the last couple of races. On top of that Felipe starts quite far back, so we will do everything to get our next podium."
Heidfeld obviously stands a chance of a podium but Raikkonen is likely on a heavier fuel load. It will be interesting to see if Heidfeld can stay ahead. It was a rather unfortunate day for Massa and it's going to be a difficult race for the Brazilian starting from 14th. Ferrari really didn't look to be up to McLaren's pace in qualifying but, of course, fuel loads and strategy have to be taken into account.
Rosberg scored a fine fifth place grid slot and Schumacher was the better of the Toyotas in sixth. Kubica finished seventh and Fisichella eighth but the Italian's place is provisional until the stewards have investigated the holding up of Yamamoto. Trulli and Webber rounded off the group in ninth and 10th. There were no real surprises apart from Massa's lowly position.
How things play out on track on Sunday could be fairly predictable but there's always a chance of an oddity occuring. Overtaking is a rare beast at the Hungaroring but we've seen in the past that anything can happen -- and there's still a possibility of rain for the race. Final top ten classification: Alonso, Hamilton, Heidfeld, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Schumacher, Kubica, Fisichella, Trulli, Webber.