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Qualifying analysis - can anyone ruin Red Bull’s party? 20 Jun 2009

Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, second; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, pole position; Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Brawn Grand Prix, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009 Kazuki Nakajima (JPN) Williams FW31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2009.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM02 crashes heavily during qualifying.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009

An unpredictable wind, difficulty in keeping Bridgestone’s soft tyre alive by the third sector of the lap, and/or generating sufficient tyre temperatures in the cool conditions presented the teams and drivers with some serious challenges throughout qualifying, while several runners fell foul of Adrian Sutil’s heavy crash at Abbey in Q1, Hamilton among them, and failed to do better as the session was red flagged.

In the fuel weight stakes, Vettel’s performance was put into further perspective by his 666.5 kg load, compared to Webber’s 659.5, and 657.5 apiece for the Brawn drivers. The lightest top 10 racer was Nakajima on 652.5, while Raikkonen and Alonso each had 654.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 19.509s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 19.868s, P3

This was almost the perfect qualifying session for Red Bull, spoiled only when Webber met traffic in the shape of Raikkonen at Stowe on his final run. Vettel said he really got his RB5 hooked up on the soft tyre from Q2 onwards, and that the new aero package tried for the first time this weekend had helped the team make a good step forward.

Brawn GP
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 19.856s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 20.289s, P6

In contrast, Brawn have struggled for grip all weekend, both drivers complaining about understeer and oversteer for much of the time. At the end of Q3 Barrichello did what he said was an absolutely on-the-limit lap, while despite changes Button never got the balance of BGP001 to his liking. Sixth was his worst qualifying position of the year.

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 20.091s, P4
Timo Glock, 1m 20.490s, P8

Trulli was in the hunt all weekend and very happy with fourth place. Like the Red Bull pilots, he praised a new aero package, and said his final lap could have been better still. At 658 kg, his fuel weight was competitive.

Ferrari
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 20.715s, P9
Felipe Massa, 1m 18.927s, P11

This was another disappointing qualifying for Ferrari. A mistake in the final sector prevented Massa from progressing from Q2, leaving him 11th. Raikkonen simply said that his lap showed the performance level of the car in its current state.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 20.741s, P10
Nelson Piquet, 1m 19.392s, P14

Renault gave Alonso a reasonable fuel load on the basis that here it is better to go a distance in the first stint rather than run light, pit earlier and lose track position. The Spaniard felt he got the most from the car, and said that gaining points in the race would be dependent on managing tyre wear. Piquet liked the feel of his R29 at the start of Q1, but said that something didn’t feel right at the rear of it at the end of Q2, and that he was obliged to abort the lap.

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 20.216s, P5
Nico Rosberg, 1m 20.361s, P7

Nakajima bounced from nowhere to fifth in the closing minute, pushing Button back a place. He had the lightest fuel load, but had been on it all weekend and looked confident on this high-speed track. Fifth was the best qualifying result of his career. Rosberg was seventh, and said he hadn’t got the best from his FW31 in Q3. Both men said an upgrade package had made the car very competitive.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 19.308s, P12
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 19.448s, P15

Kubica had more technical problems in the morning, and was unable to generate decent tyre temperatures in the afternoon. Heidfeld was in similar trouble, and to add to the woe the Silverstone upgrade proved less effective than others.

McLaren
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 19.353s, P13
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 19.917s, P19

Hamilton did not blame Sutil for the accident which caused the red flag which resulted in his final lap having to be aborted in Q1. He said he felt any improvement in speed would not have been sufficient to push him much higher up the grid. Kovalainen had no problems and reported a clean lap, which nevertheless yielded only 13th place. A far cry from Silverstone 2008.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 19.802s, P16
Adrian Sutil, 1m 19.909s, P18

Fisichella said he lost one lap because Buemi was ahead of him when he was running his last set of tyres in Q1 and slowed him down, then he came across the red flag from Sutil’s accident. The German said his shunt was caused by brake failure, but emerged unharmed from the heavy impact.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 19.898s, P17
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 20.236s, P20

Bourdais thought any improvement since Turkey had been countered by other teams doing likewise but better, and was another to suffer from the red flag in Q1. Buemi has struggled all weekend, with small undisclosed problems, and blamed traffic for not being able to go faster.