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Qualifying analysis - Button versus boost button into Turn 1 23 May 2009

Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix in qualifying parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 23 May 2009 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 23 May 2009 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 23 May 2009 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 23 May 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 23 May 2009

Besides the usual Monaco problem of avoiding a first-corner shunt, everyone will have uppermost in their minds tomorrow the need to preserve their tyres. Both Bridgestone’s soft and super-soft tyres have shown good wear properties, but can be prone to graining here if a driver gets trapped behind another car and starts to slide around as he loses front-end grip. Button will be very mindful at the start of the need to contain Raikkonen, if the Ferrari’s KERS system can give it sufficient advantage in the short squirt to Ste Devote. We take a team-by-team look at how the grid shaped up…

Brawn
Jenson Button, 1m 14.902s, P1
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 15.077s, P3

Button admitted that taking his fourth pole position was more than a surprise, as he had not expected to upstage his birthday boy team mate who had had the upper hand all weekend. He said that his BGP001 just got better and better as it responded to small changes to eradicate troublesome understeer. Barrichello, on a slightly higher fuel load (648 to 647.5kg), raised his metaphorical hat to Button.

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 14.927s, P2
Felipe Massa, 1m 15.437s, P5

Raikkonen was disappointed to miss pole by such a tiny margin, but was running a lap lighter than Button (644 kg against 647.5). He was pleased that Ferrari’s Spanish upturn had carried over, and that he felt more comfortable by Q3 as the grip level went up. Massa nearly threw it all away by damaging the nose of his F60 in a lurid slide in the Swimming Pool early in Q1, but made it through to fifth on 643.5 kg despite never getting a really clear lap and making a few small errors.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 15.271s, P4
Mark Webber, 1m 15.653s, P8

Vettel was the lightest of the frontrunners at 631.5 kg, but that might help him at the start as he tries to offset any KERS advantage for Raikkonen’s Ferrari. He felt he could have been quicker still, but lost some ground behind traffic in the second half of the lap, and again when Nakajima got in the way exiting Rascasse. Webber did a good job to put his RB5 eighth with 646.5 kg aboard.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 15.455s, P6
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 17.344s, P10

Rosberg wasn’t happy with the final part of Q3, when he thought he could have done better than sixth on his 642 kg fuel load. He reported balance problems on his final run and traffic - notably Barrichello. Nakajima finally got through to Q3 and 10th was a reasonable effort given a monster fuel load of 668 kg.

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 15.516s, P7
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 16.264s, P16, starts P20

Kovalainen said he felt really comfortable with his MP4-24 all weekend, and felt lucky to have survived three taps of the barriers in qualifying as a single one for Hamilton at Mirabeau, in Q1, left the unhappy Briton down in 16th place. The champion said he braked too late for the right-hander at the bottom of the hill from Casino Square. The need for a new gearbox compounded the error, the subsequent penalty dropping him to the back of the grid.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 16.009s, P9
Nelson Piquet, 1m 15.837s, P12

Alonso (654 kg) said he was happy enough with his Renault’s performance as he prepared for one of the longer opening stints of the frontrunners, and even though he hit a bit of traffic he felt that ninth was representative of the R29’s current level of performance. Piquet spun exiting Noghes in Q2 but didn’t damage his R29. He said it was far from perfect and that it had poor brake balance which made things difficult.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 15.833s, P11
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 16.281s, P14

Buemi believed he could have made it into the top ten if he hadn’t made a an error in the final corner, while Bourdais found the balance that he had praised in the morning had been marred as track conditions changed and touched a couple of barriers as he struggled with turn in. Nevertheless, both Toro Rossos qualified well.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 16.146s, P13
Adrian Sutil, 1m 16.545s, P15

Fisichella said he was really satisfied with 13th place, and Sutil echoed his thoughts after a decent effort from Force India which got both cars through to Q2 for the first time.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 16.264s, P17, starts P16
Robert Kubica, 1m 16.405s, P18, starts P17

This was a day to forget for BMW Sauber, with Heidfeld 17th and Kubica 18th. The F1.09s just weren’t suited to the twisty track, and did not get results on either tyre compound. Heidfeld reported myriad changes prior to qualifying, since the risk was worth any slight performance enhancement, but said they made the car even worse. Kubica said he had a very bad out lap thanks to traffic which cooled his tyres.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 16.548s, P19, starts P18
Timo Glock, 1m 16.788s, P20, starts P19

This was a terrible qualifying session for Toyota, the heroes of Bahrain. Neither Trulli nor Glock reported a specific car problem, but both lacked grip. The Italian was also angry when Alonso blocked his final run in the last two corners, when he thought he could easily have made it into Q2.

David Tremayne