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Qualifying analysis - Button on pole, but Massa's the dangerman 09 May 2009

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 9 May 2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 9 May 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 9 May 2009 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 9 May 2009 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, 9 May 2009

Brawn GP’s Jenson Button took his third pole position of the season, as the big showdown qualifying session that kicked off the European season revealed that the team that have really made the most progress are Ferrari. Button beat Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Brawn team mate Rubens Barrichello to the fastest time, but was the lightest of the three with a fuel weight of 646kg. Barrichello was next with 649.5, then Vettel on 651.5. The dangerman is Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, fourth fastest but the heaviest, on 655 kg, and with KERS to 'after burn' him down to Turn One…

Brawn GP
Jenson Button, 1m 20.527s, P1
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 20.762s, P3

Button just crossed the finish line to begin his pole-winning lap with two seconds to spare before the session ended, having got mixed up with whether Kubica was on an out lap or a flyer. As happened in Australia, he felt his car was better with fuel and he flew. Barrichello was a little slower and thought he might have gone out too soon, before the track condition peaked, but he was running more fuel which probably gave a better explanation of the difference in their times.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 20.660s, P2
Mark Webber, 1m 21.049s, P5

Vettel said his car was much better than on Friday but that the RB5 still struggles a little on the first lap on new rubber. But he looked happy and his fuel load was heavier than the Brawns' so he should also be considered a strong contender. It was his fifth race in the top three. Webber had an identical fuel load so was disappointed by the gap to his team mate.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 20.934s, P4
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 21.291s, P16

Ferrari were very quick in the morning when Massa and Raikkonen were first and second, and the Brazilian’s fourth place with a relatively heavy fuel load was testament to the progress that the team made this weekend. Watch for the Brazilian and KERS at the start. The fly in the ointment was that, unforgivably, Raikkonen was subject to the same error that stopped Massa going through to Q2 in Malaysia. The Finn and his crew thought he had done enough to get through, but he was bumped by Toyota’s Jarno Trulli as he sat in his garage.

Toyota
Timo Glock, 1m 21.247s, P6
Jarno Trulli, 1m 21.254s, P7

Like Button, Trulli struggled on low fuel in Q1 and Q2 but was quick in Q3 with a heavier load than team mate Glock (655.5 kg to 646.5). The German struggled in the morning and had to work hard to improve his TF109’s balance and grip for qualifying.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 21.392s, P8
Nelson Piquet, 1m 20.604s, P12

Alonso said he felt he got everything out of his R29 that it had to offer this day, and was satisfied that the car was quick and that Renault have closed the gap to those ahead. Piquet looked much more convincing, and was unlucky not to make it through to Q3 as he was only a tenth slower than his team leader.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 21.558s, P9
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 20.531s, P11

Rosberg occupied his habitual ninth place, but Nakajima just couldn’t quite hang on to a top 10 place after a promising run as he lost time towards the end of his quick lap. Rosberg said he was very pleased in Q2, and that his tyres came together really well just when it mattered. But then he had no new tyres left for Q3, so he had to be satisfied with ninth overall.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 22.685s, P10
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 20.676s, P13

BMW Sauber looked better this weekend after dropping KERS. Kubica said qualifying began really well for him, but that by Q3 his F1.09 had begun to understeer and lose its handling edge. He pitted, and it was discovered that there had been a fault fitting the tyres. Heidfeld’s car was repaired after his off in the morning, but the lost track time could not be recovered in qualifying.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 20.805s, P14
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 21.675s, P18

Hamilton complained of understeer in Turns Three and Nine in Q1, but said the MP4-24 simply wasn’t fast enough to escape Q2. Kovalainen had a nightmare as he just couldn’t go fast enough on the soft tyre to get out of Q1.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 21.067s, P15
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 21.300s, P17

Buemi once again led the way for Toro Rosso, and after an off early in Q1 then ran into traffic in Q2. Bourdais said his STR4 lacked grip on his second Q1 run

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 21.742s, P19
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 22.204s, P20

Sutil was pleased with his VJM02’s balance but said the car lacked the speed to go quicker than 19th. Fisichella had traffic on his last lap and said that while his car was more consistent than it had been in the morning it just wasn’t quick enough.

David Tremayne