McLaren, Williams on form; Renault, Toyota lose out
Kimi Raikkonen and Mark Webber will share the front row of the grid for this afternoons Spanish Grand prix, following this mornings final qualifying session at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
The Finn was smooth and composed on his way to a combined time of 2m 31.412s for McLaren, but the Australian provided the surprise as he vaulted his Williams from sixth to second with 2m 31.668s. It remains to be seen, however, how much fuel he was running relative to his main rivals.
Behind them, local hero Fernando Alonso will start third on 2m 31.691s in his Renault, with Toyotas Ralf Schumacher for company after the Germans lap brought his time up to 2m 31.017s.
The biggest place loser was Jarno trull, who dropped from fastest to fifth on 2m 31.995s after complaining of understeer, while Giancarlo Fisichella made up two places for sixth in the line-up on 2m 32.830s. The Italian really needs a good race after his recent string of misfortunes.
On row four Juan Pablo Montoya lifted himself to seventh on 2m 33.472s, sharing with Michael Schumacher who could not better 2m 33.551s in a Ferrari that does not seem as sharp as it did in Imola.
On row five are Imola protagonists David Coulthard of Red Bull and Saubers Felipe Massa, with 2m 34.168s and 2m 34.224s respectively, then come their respective team mates Vitantonio Liuzzi on 2m 35.302s and Jacques Villeneuve on 2m 36.480s.
Jordan duo Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro should have been 13th and 14th on 2m 39.268s and 2m 39.943s, but the Portuguese drivers Toyota engine blew up as he crossed the finish line. That means Christijan Albers (2m 2m 41.141s) and Patrick Friesacher (2m 42.759s) move up for Minardi. Behind them, Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello line up after receiving their penalties for engine changes. To save fuel and tyres neither ran in this session, and the German got the nod on the strength of his Saturday qualifying time. Monteiro will start behind them.
Thus the stage is set for at least a five-way fight for victory between Raikkonen, Alonso, Schumacher Jnr, Trulli and Fisichella, with Webber a possible surprise depending on his fuel load, and Montoya and Schumacher sure to feature strongly.