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Qualifying analysis - title rivals do what they need to do 02 Nov 2008

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari celebrates his pole position with brother Dudu Massa (BRA).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 1 November 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23 leaves the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 1 November 2008 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 1 November 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 1 November 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 1 November 2008

In warm conditions Ferrari’s Felipe Massa duly took pole position at Interlagos on Saturday, his sixth of the season and the first time anyone has set three consecutive fastest times at the Brazilian circuit, to start the race exactly where he needs to. Jarno Trulli sprang a surprise with a late run to second for Toyota, but McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton seemed very happy with fourth just behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen given his fuel strategy, and really just needs to make a clean start to keep his title aspirations firmly on track. At the back of their minds, all of the teams are worrying about tyre degradation if it is a dry race, and safety car interventions if the expected rain materialises...

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 12.312s, P4/1m 12.368s, P1
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 12.698s, P12/1m 12.825s, P3

A very happy Massa took the pole position that he needed, and did not really need to complete his second run to be sure of it. The belief is that he is running lighter than Raikkonen and Hamilton, and with Trulli also there in the mix he may be able to make the break he needs at the start. Raikkonen said his was not a perfect qualifying, but that he was happy with third on the grid

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 12.457s, P10/1m 12.737s, P2
Timo Glock, 1m 12.712s, P13/1m 14.230s, P10

The Toyotas have been there or thereabouts all weekend, but Trulli’s late run to second place was still a surprise, and one that McLaren probably felt they could do without. The Pescara homeboy said that he’d been preparing for this one for a long time since he felt the TF108 could be very good here, so he was delighted with his result. Glock improved his set-up since Friday and also made the top 10, but rued the decision not to save a set of tyres for Q3.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 12.212s, P2/1m 12.830s, P4
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 12.225s, P3/1m 12.917s, P5

Hamilton seemed very relaxed with fourth place and spoke a lot about fuel strategy, suggesting that he is running a fair bit heavier than Massa and maybe even Raikkonen. Kovalainen was very quick in Q2 (setting the fastest lap of the weekend to date in 1m 11.768s), but with rain and safety cars distinct possibilities on Sunday McLaren opted for a less aggressive strategy than Ferrari and Toyota to protect against such interventions.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 12.141s, P1/1m 12.967s, P6
Nelson Piquet, 1m 12.457s, P9/1m 12.137s, P11

Alonso said he thought it would be hard to match Ferrari and McLaren, and figured that sixth on the grid was the best he could have expected, which didn’t exactly factor in Trulli’s run. Piquet said he pushed hard, but it wasn’t enough and he missed the Q3 cut by three-hundredths of a second.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 12.389s, P5/1m 13.082s, P7
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 12.426s, P7/1m 14.105s, P9

Once again the Ferrari-engined Toro Rossos were both in the top 10. Vettel in particular was very strong in Q2 (second fastest), but admitted that he lost time on his second run in Q3 as he lost feel for the state of the tyres. Bourdais said ninth place was ‘super’ and that his lap was the best he had done all season. He was also delighted to make up for a disastrous first run in Q1 when he hooked a kerb.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 12.402s, P6/1m 13.297s, P8
Robert Kubica, 1m 12.971s, P14/1m 12.300s, P13

Heidfeld was the happy guy here, and the one who found the grip, Kubica was not. In other words, it was a role reversal. The former thought his Q3 lap was good even though he had expected more than a three-tenth improvement switching from the medium to the soft Bridgestone tyre, but Kubica was simply non-plussed as he struggled for the second race in succession.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 12.453s, P8/1m 12.289s, P12
David Coulthard, 1m 13.058s, P16/1m 12.717s, P14

Webber was disappointed with only 12th place, but said his RB4 simply didn’t have the pace to get through to Q3. Coulthard was also disappointed to line up 14th for his final F1 race appearance, and said he just couldn’t find sufficient grip in the middle sector during Q2.

Honda
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 13.135s, P17/1m 13.139s, P15
Jenson Button, 1m 13.278s, P18/1m 12.810s, P17

Barrichello pushed as hard as he could at home, but 15th was the best he could do with Honda’s RA108. He did well to get through to Q2 on the option tyre, but couldn’t find the same grip he’d had in Q1. Button didn’t make it through from Q1, which was a disappointment as he had found more front-end grip since the morning session. He admitted to a mistake in Turn Four, but in any case his car stopped at Turn 14 at the end of the session. Honda didn’t share the reason for that.

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 13.054s, P15/1m 12.800s, P16
Nico Rosberg, 1m 12.625s, P11/1m 13.002s, P18

Another tough qualifying saw Williams only 16th and 18th. Both Nakajima and Rosberg said their FW30s were tough to drive, as they struggled for tyre temperature.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 13.460s, P19/1m 13.426s, P19
Adrian Sutil, 1m 13.680s, P20/1m 13.508s, P20

Fisichella reported front brake locking and oversteer through to the second sector in Q1, and said he struggled particularly in Turns Eight and 10. Sutil had no real explanation for the slowest time.

David Tremayne