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Qualifying analysis - can anyone stop McLaren? 02 Aug 2008

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrate in parc ferme after qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 2 August 2008 Fans watch Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 2 August 2008 Miss Slovenia with Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 2 August 2008 Qualifying pitstop for Timo Glock (GER) Toyota TF108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 2 August 2008 Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.08 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 2 August 2008

Changing track conditions, which prompted almost wholesale switching to Bridgestone’s harder tyre in place of the super-soft option which had been the initial preference, made things tricky for competitors throughout Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday. They didn’t seem to trouble McLaren, however, who dominated the session which afterwards saw Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais given a five-place grid penalty for impeding BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld in Q1 and Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima handed a warning for holding up Renault’s Fernando Alonso in the same session. We take a team-by-team look at how they line up for Sunday’s race.

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 20.899s, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 21.140s, P2

Both McLaren drivers planned to go into Q3 on the softer Bridgestone tyres, but Massa’s speed in Q2 on the harder compound prompted a change in plan. Both made excellent use of the prime tyre, Hamilton taking an easy pole despite losing a tenth or two when he locked up going into Turn Five, while Kovalainen said he was very pleased with his MP4-23’s performance. The difference in their speeds is most likely down to their respective fuel loads, suggesting that the Finn was running heavier. Both go into the race feeling very confident, though Kovalainen will start from the dirty side of the grid.

Felipe Massa, 1m 21.191s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 21.516s, P6

Massa led the way on the harder Bridgestone as the track temperature rose in Q2, and though he said neither of his Q3 laps was anything special he was confident that his Ferrari has the pace to compete with the McLaren. Raikkonen again seemed subdued and a mistake on his final lap in Q3 left him only sixth in the line-up for the second race in succession.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 21.281s, P4
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 21.045s, P16, will start P15

After something of an up and down weekend, BMW Sauber got Kubica fourth on the grid and the Pole was really happy as he described it as one of his best qualifying sessions of the season. He admitted he had not expected that after the F1.08 proved tricky to drive and ill-balanced in practice. €n the end he made the harder compound work. Heidfeld, meanwhile, was bitterly disappointed to find four cars in his way on his best lap in Q1. Eventually Bourdais was penalised for impeding him, but that barely helped him as he wound up 16th and then moved to 15th as the Frenchman was moved back.

Timo Glock, 1m 21.326s, P5
Jarno Trulli, 1m 21.767s, P9

Glock was very happy with his car all the way through, praising Toyota’s choice of set-up. He said his TF108 felt ‘perfect’ as only Massa bettered his time in Q2. Trulli found the sessions difficult and was disappointed with only ninth as he struggled for grip and balance in both morning practice and in qualifying.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 21.698s, P7
Nelson Piquet, 1m 22.371s, P10

Renault were happy to get both cars into the top 10. Alonso had no problems apart from Nakajima getting in his way in Q1, while Piquet found qualifying more competitive than he expected, but nevertheless managed to reach Q3 and thus make the grade.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 21.732s, P8
David Coulthard, 1m 20.502s, P13

Webber had three good, straightforward sessions, and though he was disappointed to be on the wrong side - the dirty side - of the grid he was otherwise happy with his RB4’s performance. Coulthard found himself losing a little bit of time in each sector in Q2 as his mid-corner speed was lacking.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 20.144s, P11
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 20.963s, P14, will start P19 after grid place penalty

Despite his lack of track time in practice, Vettel ran strongly for 11th place overall, missing getting into Q3 by a mere hundredth. Bourdais liked his STR3’s balance initially but could not get within eight-tenths of Vettel as he struggled for grip on the option tyre as the track temperature rose, and was later docked five grid places for inadvertently impeding Heidfeld’s best Q1 lap.

Jenson Button, 1m 20.332s, P12
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 21.332, P18, will start P17

Button pushed Heidfeld out of Q2 in the final seconds of Q1, and was happy with his lap in that second session which yielded 12th place. He felt the new rear suspension was an improvement for his RA108, and that he got the most out of the car. Barrichello stuck with the softer tyre but made a mistake in Turn 11 which compromised his best run in Q1 and left him only 18th.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 20.748s, P15, will start P14
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 21.085s, P17, will start P16

Rosberg admitted to a mistake in Q1 which lost him two and a half tenths, but he made it through to Q2. He was unable to challenge for a Q3 place, however, when a hydraulic problem arose. Nakajima complained of traffic and poor balance on the softer tyre, and was rapped over the knuckles (but not penalised) for impeding Alonso in Q1.

Force €ndia
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 21.670s, P19, will start P18

Adrian Sutil, 1m 22.113s, P20
Both VJM01s reverted to the standard gearbox as planned for qualifying, as the new seamless-shift transmission isn’t scheduled for debut until Valencia. Fisichella was happy with 1m 21.6s, which exceeded the team’s target, but Sutil struggled with tyre graining and resultant understeer.

David Tremayne