Kimi Raikkonen put paid to Toyota and Renault's chances in final qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, the McLaren man claiming pole position with an aggregate time of 2:31.421. His lap was just a couple of hundredths faster than Williams' Mark...
Kimi Raikkonen put paid to Toyota and Renault's chances in final qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, the McLaren man claiming pole position with an aggregate time of 2:31.421. His lap was just a couple of hundredths faster than Williams' Mark Webber, who had a great lap to climb to second. Renault's Fernando Alonso was a couple of tenths behind to take third.
Sunny conditions greeted the final qualifying session, with the track temperature in the mid twenties as Minardi's Patrick Friesacher got the proceedings under way. His lap was in the 1:22 bracket and gave him an aggregate time of 2:42.759. Teammate Christijan Albers was better to clock 2:41.141 overall.
Jordan's Tiago Monteiro was over a second better still, 2:39.943, but pulled off track at the end of his lap with smoke coming from the rear of the car. He needed an engine change so will get the 10 place demotion penalty. A red flag period followed then the second yellow car of Narain Karthikeyan was half a second up on his teammate for 2:39.268, although his lap was actually only two tenths quicker.
Jacques Villeneuve led out for Sauber and was a second faster than the Jordans for an aggregate of 2:36.480. Red Bull's Tonio Liuzzi followed on and his lap was six tenths up to clock 2:35.302. Juan Pablo Montoya, who suffered from being first out in yesterday's qualifying, easily took provisional pole for McLaren with a 2:33.472.
Felipe Massa's Sauber couldn't match Montoya, unsurprisingly, but had a reasonably good lap to slot into second, eight tenths off. David Coulthard was fractionally slower than Massa but his aggregate time was enough to take the second slot in the Red Bull. With half the field done, Montoya was the biggest gainer from yesterday, up two places so far.
Rubens Barrichello did not go out for a lap -- his Ferrari had an engine change yesterday and he will lose 10 places on the grid, so the team decided not to bother with a qualifying time today. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella was therefore the next driver to run and his lap was a couple of tenths up on Montoya to take the top spot with a 2:32.830.
Michael Schumacher's Ferrari matched Fisichella in the first sector but lost out in the middle and took third behind Montoya. Webber had an impressively fast lap in the Williams to take provisional pole, 2:31.668, and teammate Nick Heidfeld decided not to run as he also has an engine penalty that will put him to the back.
Ralf Schumacher was the first of the fastest four from yesterday but couldn't outdo Webber and took second in the Toyota. By now the track temperature was up in the low thirties and Raikkonen was next up. The McLaren was up on Ralf through sectors one and two and carried it through to take provisional pole with a 2:31.421.
Raikkonen's lap was just a couple of hundredths quicker than Ralf but local hero Alonso dropped a couple of tenths to put his Renault third. Toyota's Jarno Trulli was the last man to run and he was even more off the pace to slot into fourth behind teammate Ralf.
So, Toyota missed out on its first ever pole position, the honours going to Raikkonen, who probably would have been there yesterday if not for a small mistake. An excellent lap by Webber to move up four places to second but can he hold off Alonso at the start of the race?
Montoya was the most improved in this session, finishing seventh over all after being 12th yesterday. Fisichella moved up a couple of spots to sixth, Coulthard and Massa improved a place each and Liuzzi and Villeneuve also climbed a couple of positions. Michael dropped one to eighth.
Toyota was a little disappointing after the performance yesterday but it's all to play for this afternoon. It will be interesting to see how the fuel strategies play out and it's unlikely that Michael's lowly position will stop him for long. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Webber, Alonso, R. Schumacher, Trulli, Fisichella, Montoya, M. Schumacher.