Qualifying analysis - everything to play for in Valencia 24 Aug 2008
As at the last round in Hungary, changing track conditions kept teams on their mettle in maximising grip and balance throughout practice and qualifying for the European Grand Prix. The first three runners set their times by sticking with Bridgestones super-soft option tyre, while the fourth fastest used the soft prime.
Overtaking remains an unknown quantity on the new Valencia Street Circuit, so by virtue of pole position Ferraris Felipe Massa starts as favourite for the race, but expect Lewis Hamilton and McLaren to push him all the way. Toro Rosso will be aiming for their best-ever result after a sensational qualifying, and with a high probability of one or more safety-car periods there may well be other surprises on Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at how they line up
Felipe Massa, 1m 38.989s, P1
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 39.488s, P4
Massa was very happy with his Ferrari, putting his fourth pole position of the season down to a fantastic performance through the first sector in Q3 which really cemented the result. He reported how slippery the track still was after the overnight torrential rain, but coped admirably. Raikkonen opted to stay on the harder prime tyre, but said that P4 was not what he had been looking for. He locked up on his last run in Q3 and wasted valuable time.
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.199s, P2
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 39.937s, P5
Hamilton seemed quite unruffled that Massa eventually pipped him to pole, and agreed that most of the damage was done by the first corner where he was already a couple of tenths down. Otherwise he had little to complain of, and believed he is in good shape to challenge for the win. Kovalainen liked his MP4-23s balance, so was disappointed to be only fifth, especially as his lap was devoid of mistakes.
Robert Kubica, 1m 39.392s, P3
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 40.631s, P8
With the right tyre pressures correcting the errors of the Hungaroring, Kubica said he was pretty happy overall after a smooth run, and believed that starting third, on the cleaner side of the grid, would give him an advantage over Hamilton. Heidfeld was blocked again by Glock in Q1, quick in Q2, but while he was generally happier with his car than he had been on Friday, he was disappointed with eighth overall.
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 40.142s, P6
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 40.750s, P10
To the surprise of many, Toro Rossos amazing practice form continued in qualifying, with Vettel sixth and Bourdais 10th. Their speed raised many eyebrows, especially as the Red Bulls did not look impressive. The former said all the set-up changes they made overnight were positive, and that he would have been quicker but for a mistake in Turn 12 on his last run. Bourdais struggled for grip on the super-soft tyre, so was surprised to make it through to Q3 for the first time in his career.
Jarno Trulli, 1m 40.309s, P7
Timo Glock, 1m 38.499s, P13
Toyota might have expected better than seventh given Trullis fastest lap in Q2. The talian was delighted that set-up changes transformed his TF108, less impressed that a gearbox oil pump problem kept him in the garage all morning in practice. Flying blind in qualifying, he made a mistake on his final run, but was delighted with P7. Glock said he didnt know why, but he just didnt get the lap together when it mattered.
Nico Rosberg, 1m 40.721s, P9
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 38.428s, P11
Back in the top 10, Williams looked stronger than of late, to the delight of Patrick Head who came out to Spain in place of Sam Michael. Neither Rosberg nor Nakajima had any problems on their way to ninth and 11th respectively.
Fernando Alonso, 1m 38.435s, P12
Nelson Piquet, 1m 38.744s, P15
Alonso was on target for the top 10 until he ran wide and over a kerb and spoiled his last run, and Piquet was also disappointed with 15th. Not a great afternoon for the Regie.
Mark Webber, 1m 38.515s, P14
David Coulthard, 1m 39.235s, P17
n contrast to the Ferrari-engined Toro Rossos, the Renault-motored Red Bulls struggled badly with Webber 14th and Coulthard 17th. They just werent quick enough.
Jenson Button, 1m 38.880s, P16
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 39.811, P19
Button was very disappointed with 16th after showing so strongly earlier in the weekend, for where Toro Rosso upheld they speed, Honda could not. Quick on the prime tyre in Q1, he found the switch to the option tyre disastrous and failed to get through. Barrichello just couldnt get his RA108 balanced, and struggled round to 19th.
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 39.268s, P18
Adrian Sutil, 1m 39.943s, P20
Both cars ran their seamless-shift transmissions, and Fisichella reckoned he squeezed everything out of his VJM01 that it had to offer on his way to 18th. Sutil was seven-tenths slower, blaming traffic for his inability to warm up his tyres sufficiently.