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Qualifying analysis - are Renault for real? 27 Apr 2008

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 celebrates his second position in qualifying in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 26 April 2008 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 26 April 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Practice Day, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, 25 April 2008 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 26 April 2008 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 26 April 2008

With only eight-tenths of a second separating the top 10 in qualifying at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, a track that all of the teams know inside out, we are in for a tough race in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, when everyone will be going all-out to take the most advantage at the start.

If he gets his right, could local hero Fernando Alonso steal an unlikely win from polesitter Kimi Raikkonen? Or, as Alonso predicts, are Renault still destined to be left chasing Ferrari, BMW Sauber and McLaren? We examine the post-qualifying prospects of all 11 teams…

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 21.813s, P1
Felipe Massa, 1m 22.058s, P3

Raikkonen was more than happy with his pole position, the handling of his Ferrari, and the news that the past seven polesitters here have gone on to win the race. Massa, however, said he never put the lap together when it mattered on his second run, having done so quite nicely on his first run. He blamed wheelspin in Turn 7 and the slower corners, but both are very optimistic for the race.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 21.904s, P2
Nelson Piquet, 1m 22.699s, P10

Not many people believe that Renault have made up all their lost ground in one jump, even Alonso. He said that he was very happy with the changes to his R28, but also admitted that he expects to finish seventh. Look for an early fuel stop. Piquet, who had shadowed his team leader all weekend, looks as if he was running a normal fuel load.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 22.065s, P4
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 22.542s, P9

Kubica said he was very happy with P4 in Q3, and believes he can be strong in the race, but Heidfeld was very glum about qualifying ninth and admitted that his final lap just wasn’t good enough. The constructors’ championship leaders still look a danger to Ferrari and McLaren here, though.

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 22.096s, P5
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 22.231, P6

Hamilton was pleased with his single-lap pace, but very disappointed with his MP4-23’s performance with a race fuel load. Kovalainen didn’t expect to be on row three, either. But the times were exceptionally close, and both expect to have strong race pace. Everything could depend on their starts.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 22.429s, P7
David Coulthard, 1m 21.810s, P17

Webber did a great qualifying job for Red Bull to take seventh and is determined to score well having recovered from a morning engine problem, but Coulthard said he was shocked not to get through to Q2 after the prime Bridgestone tyres took longer than expected to warm up, and will have his work cut out starting 17th.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 22.529s, P8
Timo Glock, 1m 21.230s, P14

Trulli was again in the top 10 for Toyota, even though the wind affected his TF108’s balance, but said he wasn’t particularly happy with how the final session unravelled and expects a tough race. Glock said he was disappointed not to make Q3, especially as he didn’t make any mistakes on his final run in Q2.

Rubens Barrichello, 1m 21.049s, P11
Jenson Button, 1m 21.211s, P13

Barrichello had weighty things on his mind this weekend but rose to the occasion to qualify his RA108 11th. Like Button, who was close behind in 13th, he said the team are still learning their new aero package and was encouraged by the step they had taken thus far.

Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 21.117s, P12
Nico Rosberg, 1m 21.349s, P15

Nakajima got his FW30 slightly better balanced than team mate Rosberg and out-qualified him, 12th to 15th. But it was a disappointing result for a team that had their sights firmly set on at least one top-10 starting position.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 21.724s, P16
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 22.108s, P18

For some reason Bourdais continued to have the advantage over Vettel, who looked so good last year. French Seb said he was running out of adjustments to counter increasing understeer as the conditions changed, and in any case had to abort his final Q2 run after a moment while trying a modification that upset the car too much. German Seb continued to struggle with the final sector and complained of general lack of grip.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 22.516s, P19
Adrian Sutil, 1m 23.224s, P20

Fisichella said his car lost grip and picked up understeer between his first and second runs in Q1 as he struggled to make the tyres work. Sutil was happy with his car on its second run but ran into traffic in Turn 3, lost downforce and had to back off as understeer set in.

Super Aguri
Anthony Davidson, 1m 23.318s, P21
Takuma Sato, 1m 23.496s, P22

Davidson was very happy with his lap as he out-qualified his team mate, but Sato picked up understeer in the final sector of his quick lap, and thus lines up last.

David Tremayne