Sunday, July 26, 2009

Qualy: Alonso Takes Pole As Massa Crashes

Saturday 25th July 2009

Mass confusion reigned at the end of Hungarian qualifying as the live timing went down in the final minutes with the general consensus being that Fernando Alonso was in pole position.

Only nine drivers competed in the pole position shoot-out after Felipe Massa crashed heavily in the final few seconds of the previous session. The Brazilian appeared to be hit by a piece of flying debris from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP car, which resulted a huge impact into the Turn 4 barriers.

The final qualifying segment was delayed while marshals fixed the tyre barrier but once underway it was Alonso who had the measure of his rivals taking his first pole position of the 2009 campaign with a 1:21.567.

Red Bull racers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were next in line while Lewis Hamilton completed the second row.

However, none of this was known immediately after qualifying as the track's live timing went down, leaving everyone in the dark and Alonso's pole uncelebrated.

Qualifying 1
The much-talked about track temperatures were up to 41C as Q1 started under bright sunshine and with high winds raking across the circuit. The winds were set to disrupt many of the Q1 laps as cars lost and gained downforce going into it and away from it.

Toro Rosso debutant, Jaime Alguesuari, having put in 102 laps in the three practice sessions, would make his first attempt at getting into Q2, the youngest ever F1 driver. Sebastien Bourdais had managed it twice in nine attempts, so there were no high expectations of getting there, just for keeping it safe and sensible.

Team-mate Sebastien Buemi set the first significant P1 time with a 1:22.380 which he reduced to 1:21.813 on the next lap. Everyone had fuelled for a number of laps and with the green-walled super-soft tyres lasting for three or four laps with little fall-off in performance, most drivers opted for three- or four-lap runs.

Kimi Raikkonen took the time down to 1:21.602 on his third hot lap, Sebastian Vettel took it from him with a 1:21.590 and then Mark Webber stopped the clocks also at exactly 1:21.590. Raikkonen wasn't finished, though and on his fourth lap put in a 1:21.500 to take the P1 position.

The high wind on the early runs and the effects of the track rubbering in made it difficult to be confident that any time would be good enough. Into the last four minutes and the most obvious danger positions were: 11.Button 12.Alonso 13.Fisichella 14.Piquet 15.Nakajima 16.Kovalainen 17.Glock 18.Alguesuari 19.Trulli 20.Sutil

However no-one was going to take a chance and all 20 runners took to the track. Again the cars had been fuelled for multiple laps, so all was not lost. Kovalainen jumped to P7, Nakajima took P9, Trulli - who had been close to last - jumped to P11 with the fastest final sector. Button who had been pushed down to P15 bounced back up to P9. Hamilton roared up to P4

Toro Rosso's new boy then developed hydraulic problems and had to park up at the penultimate corner. This brought out the yellow flags and meant that it would be difficult for drivers to improve their time while marshals got the car out of the way.

When the yellow flags were cleared Button jumped up to P2, Vettel claimed P2, Alonso stayed P15 while the Force India garage ere elated to see Fisi grab P11. Kubica maintained his P16 before Glock jumped up to P11 and then both Renaults came from out of the drop zone. Alonso took P6, but it was under-threat Nelson Piquet Junior who took P5.

It was a frantic end to the session, the Top 15 had been covered by 0.9 of a second and the McLaren of Hamilton was P2 yet Kovalainen squeezed through in P15. Out went: 16.Heidfeld

It was another dreadful qualifying session for the BMW team after Nick Heidfeld had got up to P2 in morning practice.

Another frantic session lay in store as the cars came out for Q2 and Kimi Raikkonen set a hopeless benchmark of 1:24.552 which was put in perspective by Mark Webber's lap of 1:21.067 a few seconds later. This was edged down to 1:20.964 by Vettel, 1:20.895 by Nico Rosberg and 1:20.885 by Fernando Alonso who then showed that he could go even quicker reducing P1 to 1:20.826.

After the first group of runs the danger positions, with five minutes left, were: 6.Button 7.Barrichello 8.Nakajima 9.Massa 10.Kovalainen 11.Piquet 12.Buemi 13.Glock 14.Raikkonen 15.Trulli.

Trulli jumped to P6, Kovalainen restored his P10 position, Raikkonen claimed P6, Glock couldn't improve, Massa jumped up to P8, Glock managed just P12, Piquet a sad P14 (considering his team-mate was P1), at which point Mark Webber set the P1 time at 1:20.358.

Hamilton edged past Alonso's time in P2, Button leapt up to P6, Kovalainen took P5, Massa improved to P6, Rosberg made it safe with a P3 - at which point Jenson Button was down to P10 again and Barrichello had slipped to P13. Jenson then restored the heartbeat of the Brawn engineers with a P6, but Rubens couldn't improve.

As the session came to an end cameras flashed to the Ferrari of Felipe Massa that had been planted in the barriers at Turn 4. From the tyre marks it looked like the Brazilian had some kind of problem and gone straight on.

As the difficult process of extracting him got underway, Rubens Barrichello revealed that the reason he couldn't improve on his final lap was because something had fallen off the car, maybe a torsion bar.

Replays showed a small object bouncing along the track and striking the side of Massa's helmet before he went off and hit the barriers in an accident that had eerie similarities to the one that killed Henry Surtees just six days earlier.

Out of the session went:

There was a long delay while Massa was taken to the medical centre, and he looked mainly to be concussed, the G-warning light having been illuminated on his crashed F60. The fact that he was able to apply the brakes as he went into the barrier alleviated any immediate concern that he had been unconscious at the time of impact.

Qualifying 3
While the Brawn team checked over Button's suspension, Nico Rosberg set the first provisional pole time of 1:23.620, beaten by Kovalainen with a 1:23.547 and then comprehensively shattered by Alonso with a 1:22.717. Rosberg's second lap was quicker and he retook P1 with a 1:22.386. Not for long, as Lewis Hamilton claimed the spot with a 1:22.286 and then he was deposed on top by Mark Webber with a 1:22.021.

Everyone, it seemed, was going for pole except Button and Nakajima.

So after the first runs it was Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Rosberg, Kovalainen, Raikkonen, Nakajima, Button (not started) and Massa receiving treatment.

As the cars went out for the second timed laps farce and confusion reigned with a massive timing failure losing the graphics for all timing, rendering the last three minutes a guessing game.

Button finally went out with 3.26 on the clock and put in a couple of steady laps but looked noticeably slower than most. The session ended, cars came in and all the drivers looked around at each other in parc ferme, asking each other what time they had done. "I did a 21.5" Alonso said to Button, "flipping heck," said JB, "I did a 22.5". "I did a 21.8" Lewis told Fernando as he tried to find someone with a better time. Slowly realising that he'd done it.

Following the Brazilian GP of 2008 no-one wanted to celebrate too early, but yes, Fernando had got pole with the two Red Bulls in P2 and P3. Only the weights will reveal the true situation at the front of the grid, but with Lewis Hamilton equipped with KERS sitting in P4, it could well be a McLaren in the mix going into Turn 1 tomorrow.

Button either had a poor lap or is banking on the Brawn's superior tyre wear to run longer into the first stint, rather than risk getting stuck behind a Mclaren or a Ferrari. It will be a tactical battle on the large scale in Budapest tomorrow.


01 F. Alonso Renault 1:21.569
02 S. Vettel Red Bull 1:21.607
03 M. Webber Red Bull 1:21.741
04 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:21.839
05 N. Rosberg Williams 1:21.890
06 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:22.095
07 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:22.468
08 J. Button Brawn GP 1:22.511
09 K. Nakajima Williams 1:22.835
10 F. Massa Ferrari no time
11 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:21.002
12 J. Trulli Toyota 1:21.082
13 R. Barrichello Brawn GP 1:21.222
14 T. Glock Toyota 1:21.242
15 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:21.389
16 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:21.738
17 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:21.807
18 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:21.868
19 R. Kubica BMW 1:21.901
20 J. Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:22.359

Source : Planet F1

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