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Qualifying analysis - Hamilton leaves Ferrari playing catch-up 06 Sep 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 6 September 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren celebrate in parc ferme after qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 6 September 2008 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.08.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 6 September 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 6 September 2008 Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault R28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 6 September 2008

Rain in Saturday morning’s final practice session, allied to the usual compromises required at Spa left many teams with mixed thoughts doing into qualifying. Most opted to run Bridgestone’s softer option tyre for outright speed, though Lewis Hamilton was second fastest in Q2 with the harder prime offering. And when the championship leader also switched to the white-striped rubber for Q3 there was little Ferrari - nor anyone else - could do to stop him putting McLaren on pole, despite a great lap from Felipe Massa…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 47.338s, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 47.815s, P3

Hamilton did not try to disguise how happy he was to have taken his fifth pole of the season, having literally dominated Q3 to endorse his pre-event view that McLaren would be very strong here. Bar locking up going into La Source, he had no problems. Kovalainen looked good in Q1 and 2, but seemed slightly disillusioned by his team mate’s speed when it really mattered.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 47.678s, P2
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 47.992s, P4

Massa said he did a great lap, but admitted that it just wasn’t quite quick enough to beat McLaren. Raikkonen, meanwhile, admitted yet again that he made a mistake on his second run in Q3 when he ran wide at the exit to Les Combes. Both men, however, said they were happy with the balance of their F2008s.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 48.315s, P5
Robert Kubica, 1m 48.763s, P8

Heidfeld was very happy to be back on form as he out-qualified team mate Kubica. The German said fifth was the best that BMW Sauber could have expected, but added that he thought they were a little closer to McLaren and Ferrari. The Pole said he had a difficult qualifying session, as he was unhappy with his F1.08’s balance and grip.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 48.504s, P6
Nelson Piquet, 1m 46.965s, P12

Good news and bad again for Renault, with Alonso sixth and Piquet only 12th. The Spaniard spoke of a solid job and a good chance of points in the race, the Brazilian of his disappointment at missing out on Q3.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 48.736s, P7
David Coulthard, 1m 47.018s, P14

Webber found it tough getting into Q3 but said Red Bull had greater pace than in Valencia. Coulthard simply said he was unhappy with 14th.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 48.951s, P9
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 50.319s, P10

Bourdais set tongues wagging after he grabbed the fastest time right at the end of Q1, and was happy enough with his STR3 as he took ninth place in Q3. Unusually, Vettel admitted that he couldn’t find his team mate’s pace having also made it through to Q3, but they share row five on the grid.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 46.949s, P11
Timo Glock, 1m 46.995s, P13

Disappointment for Toyota, with Trulli and Glock only 11th and 13th. Both found it very hard to get temperature into their tyres, which in turn made it hard to gauge the balance of the TF108s. Trulli also mentioned that running his engine for its second race made it tough with Spa’s long straights.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 47.429s, P15
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 48.268s, P19

Rosberg said he was surprised to struggle as much as he did in qualifying. The balance of his FW30 was good, but it lacked grip. Nakajima said the same problems mystified him.

Honda
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 48.153s, P16
Jenson Button, 1m 48.211s, P17

Yet another tough qualifying for Honda saw Barrichello and Button only 16th and 17th. The Brazilian said they had to be pleased with the way things went, which showed just how bad they were. Button lost time with his mechanical problem in the morning, so that his first lap in Q1 was his first lap of the day. Both drivers are again praying for rain on Sunday.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 48.226s, P18
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 48.447s, P20

Sutil said he was pleased with the speed of his Force India on Spa’s long straights, and with 18th place right behind the Hondas, while Fisichella complained of lack of grip.

David Tremayne