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Kovalainen and Red Bull thrilled with qualifying firsts 05 Jul 2008

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren (Right) celebrates his first pole position in parc ferme with second placed Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2008 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2008 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren MP4/23 .
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 5 July 2008 (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing with Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Prinicpal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Practice Day, Silverstone, England, Friday, 4 July 2008

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen and Red Bull were delighted with their performances during qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on Saturday. Kovalainen took his maiden pole position, while Red Bull clinched their first-ever front-row grid slot, after Mark Webber clocked Q3’s second-fastest time.

At first it had seemed that Webber would be on course for his first P1, but in the end it was Kovalainen, who snatched the prime slot in the session’s dying moments, with a stunning lap of 1m 21.049s.

“We've been going really well all weekend after finding some good pace during testing last week,” said the Finn. “I've spent a lot of time racing in the UK so it feels great to have scored my first ever Formula One pole position at Silverstone. The car feels just fantastic at the moment; I was able to steadily improve throughout all three qualifying session and I'm confident our pace is going to be strong tomorrow.”

“Heikki showed great determination and a lot of skill to master the gusty, tricky conditions so well,” added McLaren boss Ron Dennis. “The result was his first pole position in Formula One - and it was thoroughly well deserved because he's been driving beautifully all weekend. Lewis made a small mistake in sector three, and his P4 grid position doesn't therefore reflect his latent pace, but he remains confident that he can put in a strong performance tomorrow. Overall, then, we feel we're in a good position and are looking forward to doing very well at McLaren's home race tomorrow.”

Despite losing out on pole to Kovalainen, Webber - and Red Bull - were overjoyed to have shown enough pace to compete with the front-running teams.

“It’s gone really well for us today and to be on the front of the grid for tomorrow’s race is very encouraging,” said Webber. “The guys have worked really hard since the last race and, with the factory just down the road, there’s an amazing atmosphere. Five percent of the job is done, but we’ve got a long race ahead of us tomorrow. But, we’re happy for now - this has been coming for a while, we’ve shown good consistency this year and the team’s done a good job.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner added: “A fantastic result for the team. Our first front row start, and where better to do it than just up the road from the factory when so many team members are in attendance, It’s important that we turn the grid position into a strong result tomorrow, but Mark’s been competitive all weekend, so hopefully we can convert it.”

Although Webber’s team mate David Coulthard only managed 11th, Red Bull’s sister team, Toro Rosso, will also have something to celebrate on Saturday night. With Sebastian Vettel eighth on the grid and team mate Sebastien Bourdais 13th, the Italian squad enjoyed their best qualifying performance of 2008.