McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen took his second consecutive pole position in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix with a best time of 1:19.599. The Finn was three tenths quicker than Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who will line up alongside, and Honda's...
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen took his second consecutive pole position in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix with a best time of 1:19.599. The Finn was three tenths quicker than Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who will line up alongside, and Honda's Rubens Barrichello took third. But what of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso?
There was an unexpected twist just prior to qualifying when Michael joined title rival Alonso in being given a two second time penalty. Alonso was awarded his for dangerous driving and overtaking under yellow flags in Friday afternoon's practice and Schumacher got his for overtaking under red flags in this morning's session.
The red flag was due to Jenson Button's Honda engine giving up, so he will suffer the 10 place grid demotion penalty. MF1's Christijan Albers will get the same as he had an engine failure on Friday. Once again it was unseasonably cool with a track temperature in the low thirties at the start of the first 15 minute session.
The Williams pair of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg were quickly out, as well as the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher, Super Aguri's Sakon Yamamoto and Barrichello. MF1's Tiago Monteiro was next and Ralf set the first time, 1:24.231. Rosberg took second but was immediately demoted by Webber.
Yamamoto undercut Ralf by a couple of tenths then Barrichello took over at the top, 1:23.251. Toyota's Jarno Trulli posted fourth and Monteiro fifth, while David Coulthard's Red Bull went fastest but was quickly ousted by teammate Christian Klien, 1:22.147. Scott Speed's Toro Rosso was then third and Button's Honda was next to the top.
Alonso's Renault took over almost immediately and Tonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso arrived on the time sheet in sixth. Pedro de la Rosa's McLaren clocked second and teammate Raikkonen was the fastest yet, 1:20.080, four tenths up on Alonso. Massa was flying and made the 1:19 bracket but Michael's Ferrari was even quicker, 1:19.440.
BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica posted fifth and teammate Nick Hiedfeld was at the edge of the top 10, as was Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella. Alonso put in a late flyer and clocked just a couple of hundredths off Massa which was enough to take the Spaniard through. Michael was safe at the top.
Liuzzi led the list of the first six drivers to be dropped in 17th, followed by Rosberg, Speed, Sato, Albers and Yamamoto. Alonso's two second penalty dropped him to 14th and Michael's dropped him to 13th, leaving Massa's 1:19.742 quickest, followed by Raikkonen and Button, who were both in the 1:20s.
The times were cleared ready for the second session and Kubica was first out. He clocked 1:20.712 to start with then Trulli took over, less than a tenth quicker. Heidfeld was next to the top and Ralf slotted into third, then Michael took over with a 1:19462. Coulthard was sixth and Klien eighth, separated by Webber.
Fisichella clocked second but Alonso only managed 10th. Raikkonen took second and Barrichello third, then Massa grabbed the second slot. Michael then managed a 1:18.875 right at the end, with Alonso putting in a last minute flyer to go second. Neither time was enough to put them into the top 10 once their penalties were added on.
Ralf was 11th, followed by Kubica, Heidfeld, Coulthard, Klien and Monteiro. However, once Michael and Alonso had the two seconds added they dropped to 12th and 15th respectively, which moved Ralf and Kubica up to ninth and 10th and into the final session. Massa was then fastest, 1:19.504, with Raikkonen and Barrichello behind.
The times were cleared again and the final 15 minutes got under way. The string of cars went out and started burning off fuel, Kubica leading. Fisichella set the first lap time, 1:25.129, then Massa took over, followed by Button and Ralf in quick succession. With Michael out of the way, the pole fight looked likely to be between Massa and Raikkonen.
Fisichella clocked 1:22.752 to go to the front then cars started peeling into the pits for tyre changes ahead of the shootout for pole. Fisichella was first on a hot lap and posted 1:20.924 but Massa was next over the line with a 1:19.886. De la Rosa took the second slot then lost it to Barrichello, while Raikkonen went fourth.
In the last minute efforts Webber jumped up to second but was instantly pushed down by Button, then Raikkonen shot to the top with a 1:19.599, denying Massa his maiden pole position. "That was a really good qualifying session and to come out with pole position is really great," said Raikkonen.
"The car has been quick all weekend, and I am confident that we have made an excellent choice with our Michelin tyres. I believe we have a very strong car for tomorrow, and I am looking forward to the race where we have every chance to win. The work we have done in testing has really made a difference and improved our package over the last two weekends."
Massa didn't have a perfect lap. "It was a good qualifying and it is always important to start from the front row," he commented. "Maybe I could have been on pole, but I had a bit of traffic even from the moment I came out of pit lane on my out lap for my second timed run. That meant my tyres were not up to temperature, especially going into the first corner. Apart from that, I am happy with the package I have."
The Hondas were strong with Barrichello third and Button fourth but Button will drop 10 places. "The car is competitive, we look to be consistent on race pace and the driveability is improving," said Barrichello. "I also think that we have made a good choice on our tyres so it's looking good all round. I'm hoping for a great race tomorrow, it's certainly my best chance of the year to have a good result."
Button's penalty puts three cars between Michael and Alonso on the grid but can Alonso make it up with his fast-starting Renault? And let's not forget, first corner incidents are more likely in the midfield. It's going to be mighty interesting on Sunday to see if Alonso can catch Michael and if Massa can get ahead of Raikkonen.
De la Rosa was a solid fifth, and will move up one place on the grid, so McLaren is looking competitive. Webber was also up there, in sixth for Williams. Again, though, it was mixed fortunes as Rosberg didn't even get through to the second session. He conceded that it was probably his own fault for pushing too hard then braking too late in the last sector.
Both Toyota's made the top 10, Ralf ahead of Trulli and they were split by Fisichella in eighth, so it was not a great day for Renault all round. Kubica did a fine job in his first qualifying session to be ahead of Heidfeld, although they were only separated by less than a tenth in the middle session.
Seeing as there's little chance of overtaking at the Hungaroring it's possible neither Alonso or Michael will score any points but a lot will depend on strategy. Who knows, for once Hungary might be an exciting race. Final top ten classification: Raikkonen, Massa, Barrichello, Button, de la Rosa, Webber, R. Schumacher, Fisichella, Trulli, Kubica.