British GP - Qualifying
The predicted rain showers steered clear of the home of British motorsport this afternoon allowing a fully dry qualifying hour. With a large enthusiastic crowd on hand, Sebastian Vettel stormed to his second straight pole position with a best lap
of 1:19.509s, three-tenths clear of nearest challenger Rubens Barrichello
As Red Bull celebrate Vettel’s pole lap, team-mate Mark Webber was left a frustrated third having set the pace ahead of the final frantic minutes of the session. The Australian veteran, who has yet to out-qualify Vettel this year, was just a hundredth of a second shy of Barrichello’s Brawn Mercedes.
As expected, Toyota has shown well with Jarno Trulli
behind the wheel as the Italian veteran qualified a fine fourth. Team-mate Timo Glock was four-tenths adrift in the second TF109 and starts in eighth position.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of qualifying was the pace Kazuki Nakajima. The Williams Toyota driver is 20th and last in the drivers’ championship partly through some bad luck but mostly due to qualifying and race errors. There were no such problems today as the Japanese racer secured a career best fifth position on the grid in his FW31.
Championship leader Jenson Button
starts sixth in the second Brawn Mercedes, describing his own qualifying performance as ‘not good’. While Barrichello seems to have found the sweet spot on the BGP 001, Button is struggling to find the right balance and at this stage of the weekend, that doesn’t bode well for race day.
Nico Rosberg starts seventh in the second Williams, trailing team-mate Nakajima on this occasion by just over a tenth of a second while Kimi Raikkonen
is ninth in the leading Ferrari some 1.2 seconds off Vettel’s pole position time. Fernando Alonso
rounds out the top ten in the leading Renault.
Felipe Massa starts 11th in the second Ferrari after a difficult session, while Robert Kubica led the BMW Sauber challenge in 12th. Team-mate Nick Heidfeld
suffered a couple of off-track excursions and will line up his F1.09 in 15th position.
McLaren are enduring a tough home event as expected.
Heikki Kovalainen did a good job to make it into the second round of qualifying and starts 13th ahead of the second Renault of Nelson Piquet while Lewis Hamilton, last year’s race winner, is a dismal 19th.
With numerous revisions to the Force India Mercedes package, the Silverstone-based team had hoped to make the second round of qualifying. However, Giancarlo Fisichella
will have to be content with 16th position while Adrian Sutil, third fastest in practice yesterday afternoon, is recovering from a sizeable shunt that brought out the red flags just ahead of the chequered flag.
Sutil’s VJM02 seemed to snap away under braking forcing Sutil to take to the grass and then make heavy contact with the Armco on the inside of the circuit. The team later confirmed incident was caused by a brake failure and that Sutil will take over the spare chassis for the Grand Prix.
Sebastien Bourdais starts 17th between the Force India duo in the leading Toro Rosso Ferrari while Lewis Hamilton starts a dismal 19th in the second McLaren Mercedes. Having survived a moment when the rear end of the car broke away in the high speed Maggotts – Becketts sequence, Hamilton could have – perhaps - improved were it not for the red flags at the end of the first round of qualifying. Either way, the MP4-24 lacks the downforce to be competitive at the faster circuits.
Sebastien Buemi has endured a difficult weekend in the second Toro Rosso and brings up the rear of the field.
At the half-way stage of the season it is Vettel on top again and he will be looking not to lose ground on the first lap this Sunday while fellow front-row starter Barrichello will be looking for a clean start following his start-line dramas last time out in Turkey.
Now we await the publication of the fuel levels carried in this session to see what the above all really means.