Raikkonen and Ferrari unbeatable in Magny-Cours qualifying 21 Jun 2008
Kimi Raikkonen took Ferraris 200th pole position on Saturday as he and team mate Felipe Massa dominated qualifying for the French Grand Prix. Others may have set the practice pace, but when it mattered the red cars had a small but crucial margin over McLaren in the final sector. Raikkonen put in a lap of 1m 16.449s compared to Massas 1m 16.490s.
Lewis Hamilton was third despite admitting to making mistakes on the exit to Turn Seven on each of his fast laps. His best time was 1m 16.693s which dislodged Renaults Fernando Alonso (1m 16.840s) and Toyotas Jarno Trulli (1m 16.920s), but the Englishman will start 13th when his ten-place grid penalty from Montreal is taken into account. He must, incidentally, run the same fuel load as that with which he qualified, even though he starts outside the top 10.
Heikki Kovalainen was sixth fastest with 1m 16.944s in the second McLaren, which may have been running heavier.
BMW Sauber had a disappointing time, with Robert Kubica only seventh fastest on 1m 17.037s and Nick Heidfeld 12th on 1m 15.786s.
Both Red Bulls made the top 10, with Mark Webber just shading late Q2 improver David Coulthard, 1m 17.233s to 1m 17.426s. Finally, Timo Glock rounded it out with 1m 17.596s for Toyota.
Coulthards late jump prevented Renaults Nelson Piquet from qualifying in the top 10 for the first time, but the young Brazilian will start 10th after Hamiltons penalty is applied. Behind Heidfeld, Q2 also weeded out the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais, which showed strong improvement over recent form. The German was on the pace all weekend, and lapped in 1m 15.816s. The Frenchman, on his home ground of course, was close behind on 1m 16.045s. The final faller in that session was Nico Rosberg, who couldnt push his Williams to better than 1m 16.235s. He, like Hamilton, drops 10 places because of Montreal.
Kazuki Nakajima lapped his Williams FW30 in 1m 16.243s and thus failed to get through Q3 (in which Rosberg just made it with 1m 16.085s), then came the Hondas of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello (1m 16.306s and 1m 16.330s) and the Force Indias of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil (1m 16.971s and 1m 17.053s).
Note - following the session, Kovalainen was penalised five grid places for impeding Webber whilst on an out lap.
The provisional grid in full:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2. Felipe Massa, Ferrari
3. Fernando Alonso, Renault
4. Jarno Trulli, Toyota
5. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
6. Mark Webber, Red Bull
7. David Coulthard, Red Bull
8. Timo Glock, Toyota
9. Nelson Piquet, Renault
10. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
11. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
12. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso
13. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
14. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso
15. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
16. Jenson Button, Honda
17. Rubens Barrichello, Honda
18. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
19. Adrian Sutil, Force India
20. Nico Rosberg, Williams