Raikkonen storms to pole as Hamilton crashes out 21 Jul 2007
Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen narrowly beat McLarens Fernando Alonso to pole position for the European Grand Prix on Saturday, but the talking point of qualifying was the accident that befell championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
The Englishman suffered a front-right wheel failure on the approach to Turn Eight and at scarcely diminished speed the McLaren bounced over the gravel trap before impacting hard into the tyre wall.
Hamilton was seen moving his legs in the cockpit immediately afterwards, and extracted himself partly from the cockpit, to a standing position within the car, before needing medical attention at the scene. He was seen to wave and gave a thumbs up to the cameras as he was taken by stretcher to the medical centre, where it was confirmed that he had sustained no serious injuries.
The cause of the shunt was a problem with the right-front wheel airgun during the previous pit stop in which Hamiltons car was fitted with its last set of tyres before his all-out qualifying run. The wheelnut could not be fitted properly, and a second gun was needed to cure the problem. However, back on track the wheel was still able to move enough to generate sufficient damage to cause it to fail.
The session was red flagged for 30 minutes as the damaged McLaren was recovered, and repairs were made to the conveyor belt round the tyre wall.
When the session resumed, Ferraris Felipe Massa lapped in 1m 31.778s, but subsequently Raikkonen lowered that to 1m 31.450s, and Alonsos 1m 31.741s response put him ahead of the Brazilian, too.
Nick Heidfeld will start fourth for BMW Sauber, on 1m 31.840s, with team mate Robert Kubica on the third row in fifth with 1m 32.123s. Mark Webber pushed through for sixth for Red Bull in 1m 32.476s, realising his hope of a top 10 placing, and Renault's Heikki Kovalainen was right with him on 1m 32.478s.
The Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher were eighth and ninth on 1m 32.501s and 1m 32.570s respectively.
As the session ended, Hamilton was confirmed as being in no pain and having no broken bones, but he will be kept under observation for some hours. If he is fit enough to race tomorrow he will start from his lowest qualifying position. His 1m 33.833s lap set on the run before the accident left him 10th overall.
There was disappointment for Williams after Q2. Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz were the first to lose out, the German lapping in 1m 31.978s, the Austrian in 1m 31.996s. Behind them came an unhappy Giancarlo Fisichella, who could not persuade his Renault below 1m 32.010s, Hondas Rubens Barrichello on 1m 32.221s, and the Super Aguris of Anthony Davidson on 1m 32.451s and Takuma Sato on 1m 32.838s.
Q1 weeded out the two Toro Rossos and the two Spykers, but also Hondas Jenson Button and Red Bulls David Coulthard.
Button narrowly missed the cut, after lapping in 1m 32.983s, while the Scots 1m 33.151s for Red Bull left him behind the Toro Rossos. Scott Speed took his round in 1m 33.038s, fully exploiting a new aero update said to be worth three-tenths. Tonio Liuzzi, with his Toro Rosso in the old specification, was 19th on 1m 33.148s.
Adrian Sutil was the quicker Spyker driver, comfortably acing rookie Markus Winkelhock with 1m 34.500s compared to 1m 35.940s.