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Qualifying analysis - is Massa the man to stop Hamilton? 19 Jul 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 19 July 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 19 July 2008 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Saturday, 19 July 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 18 July 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Practice Day, Hockenheim, Germany, Friday, 18 July 2008

Difficult weather conditions - principally changeable wind direction - made qualifying tricky for everyone at Hockenheim, but it was at least run on a dry track after a very quick rain shower 15 minutes before the start of Q1 had threatened to disrupt things. As on Friday, ultimately no one could better Lewis Hamilton, but the McLaren driver will have one of his fellow championship leaders alongside him on the grid - Ferrari’s Felipe Massa - and the fast-qualifying Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso could also play key roles in Sunday’s German Grand Prix. We take a team-by-team look at the pre-race form book…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 15.666s, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 16.143s, P3

Hamilton was extremely happy with the handling and balance of his MP4-23, and with his own effort on his second run in Q3 after he had been obliged to back off in Turn 12 on his first when team mate Kovalainen went off. The Finn thought that minor excursion might have damaged his car slightly, and rally-crossed at the end of his second run but was nevertheless fast enough to take third.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 15.859s, P2
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 16.389s, P6

Massa has been happier all weekend with his Ferrari’s set-up than was Raikkonen, who admitted to struggling all the way through to match his team mate. The Brazilian said he was pretty content with the way things went, and was looking forward to finding out who had what fuel load come the race.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 16.191s, P4
Timo Glock, 1m 15.508s, P11

Trulli sprung something if a surprise with fourth place in Q3. He praised small but significant changes made all the way through qualifying that left him with a perfectly balanced car. Glock thought he was on a similar track until the last run in Q2, when figuratively speaking he hit a handling wall and could not go quicker.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 16.385s, P5
Nelson Piquet, 1m 16.189s, P17

Alonso said that fifth fastest time was a nice surprise as doubts still lingered from the morning about his R28’s ultimate performance. Piquet was very disappointed after a strong morning practice showing failed to turn the trick come the afternoon. He claimed to have been baulked by Vettel during his best lap in Q1, but the stewards disagreed that he had been impeded.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 16.521s, P7
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 15.581s, P12

This was a tough qualifying for the team. Kubica got blocked by a Force €ndia in Q1 and nearly didn’t make it through. A greater fuel load upset his F1.08’s balance in Q3, hence only seventh place. Heidfeld slipped back again after his recent qualifying upturn. First there was tyre graining and understeer early in Q2, then he made a mistake on his second run, locking the rear wheels under braking for the hairpin.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 17.014s, P8
David Coulthard, 1m 17.503s, P10

Webber said Hockenheim had proved a tricky place for the RB4’s balance, while Coulthard didn’t think he quite hooked his car up with its Q3 fuel load. Nevertheless, only McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull had both cars in the top 10.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 17.244s, P9
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 15.858s, P15

Once again Vettel looked like a star in the STR3 as he split his Red Bull stablemates Webber and Coulthard at the back of the top 10. Like them he fought to balance his car. Bourdais pushed too hard on his final Q2 run, locked the front wheels, and slid wide at Turn Two

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 15.633s, P13
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 16.083s, P16

Williams had hoped for better than 13th and 16th places after last week’s test, but Rosberg found that the FW30’s sensitivity to the changing wind conditions prevented him from making it into the top 10. Nakajima admitted that he was too conservative and thus didn’t get everything out of his car when it mattered.

Honda
Jenson Button, 1m 15.701s, P14
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 16.246s, P18

Button felt that he got out all that his RA108 had to offer, struggling with graining Bridgestones on both his Q2 runs. Barrichello said that he was losing the most time in sector two, but pointed out that the last time he started 18th here was in 2000, when he won his first Grand Prix!

Force €ndia
Adrian Sutil, 1m 16.657s, P19
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 16.963s, P20

Force €ndia took heart from being closer than ever to their opposition, but Sutil said he was disappointed as his VJM01 felt well balanced until he ran wide in the final corner and lost a couple of tenths. Fisichella blamed traffic for his 20th place.

David Tremayne