Little to split McLaren, Ferrari - and BMW could surprise
McLarens Lewis Hamilton starts Sundays British Grand Prix exactly where he intended to, but it was a close-run thing in qualifying, as he grabbed the initiative with the last quick run of Q3.
Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen seemed to have pole position in the bag until he ran wide at Woodcote and lost crucial time, but the Finn is feeling good about his race pace, though so too is his English rival.
Fernando Alonso was alone in using the harder tyre for his fast runs, and said he got everything he could out of the his McLaren and that he hoped that would pay off on Sunday, which means he is almost certainly running heavier than Hamilton and should therefore also be in good shape.
Ferraris Felipe Massa, fourth, admitted that he lost his chance of better than a second row grid slot after losing time in Stowe on his best lap.
Courtesy of Robert Kubica (fifth), BMW Sauber look strong again after apparently struggling earlier in the weekend. The Pole recovered well from a gearbox problem on Saturday morning, and said that he had done better than he had expected to. Likewise Ralf Schumacher (sixth), who achieved his best qualifying result of the year as Toyota maintained the form they showed here in the recent test.
Heikki Kovalainen (seventh) made a small mistake in qualifying which cost him a little time (suggesting he may be the lighter of the two Renaults), while Giancarlo Fisichella (eighth) complained of a small brake problem at the end of his best lap. Renault are worried about the speed shown by Toyota, and say they will need a good race strategy to beat them.
Nick Heidfeld (ninth) was very unhappy after his worst qualifying position of the season in the BMW Sauber. The German complained that he couldnt get the best out of his tyres, either at the beginning of the lap or towards the end when they started graining.
Jarno Trulli (10th) had been struggling with the set-up all weekend, so was happy to make the top 10 in the end for Toyota, while Red Bulls Mark Webber (11th) lost a little time running wide at Priory and thus didnt get the braking right for Brooklands, but was otherwise happy.
Webbers team mate David Coulthard (12th) spent Saturday morning losing something in his Red Bulls set-up whenever he gained something elsewhere. He also admitted that his final qualifying run bordered on the conservative, and that 12th was better than he had expected.
Alex Wurz (13th) was the faster qualifier for Williams, as was Rubens Barrichello (14th) for Honda. The Brazilian said he got the maximum his RA107 had to give.
Scott Speed (15th) said his Toro Rosso felt very much as it had in Magny-Cours, which meant not quick enough, while team mate Tonio Liuzzi (16th) found that his gearbox would not accept any downshifts, which was a huge disappointment after he felt he had made a big step forward with the balance in Saturday mornings practice when he was seventh fastest.
Qualifying was a major disappointed for Nico Rosberg (17th) when his Williams suffered an unidentified electronic problem that prevented him from realising the potential he had shown all weekend. Also massively disappointed was Hondas Jenson Button (18th), who got held up by the BMW Saubers on his first run, then let Anthony Davidsons Super Aguri through only for the latter to fall off and bring out the yellow flags. Davidson (19th) was very disappointed to overcook it coming out of Brooklands, and to spin into the gravel.
Spykers Adrian Sutil (20th) was happy with the way qualifying went as he did three stints in Q1, but aborted the final one because of the Davidson yellows to save his tyres for the race. Takuma Sato (21st) was very unhappy with the grip and balance of his Super Aguri, while Christijan Albers (22nd) was disappointed to struggle with understeer on his Spyker.
On both previous occasions when Lewis Hamilton has started from pole position he has won, and he believes that McLaren have got to the bottom of the problems he experienced getting off the line in Magny-Cours. Raikkonen, meanwhile, is worried about starting from the dirty side here, as is Alonso, who is otherwise confident that he has a good strategy. Massa is a bit of a wild card, while if Kubica gets a good start he might be able to create a surprise in the first corner.