Hamilton secures as Alonso cries foul
Former grand prix winners like Rubens Barrichello dropped out of the initial ’Q1’ cut at Shanghai, as a couple of tenths and miniscule driving errors sorted Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Honda, Toyota, Williams, Super Aguri and Renault into midfield runners or backmarkers.
Giancarlo Fisichella qualified eighteenth; his worst performance on merit since he rejoined Renault in 2005, and - mercifully for the Roman - coinciding with the absence of team boss Flavio Briatore.
Leaving the French squad in the hands of Pat Symonds, Briatore returned to Europe with his football business partner Bernie Ecclestone after the Japanese grand prix, according to reports.
Lewis Hamilton emerged with a surprise pole position, despite Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen leading every other official session this weekend -- including the ’Q1’ and ’Q2’ low-fuel sectors.
After suffering a hydraulic leak at the end of final practice, the Finn set the fastest time of the segment by exactly a tenth of a second and in Q2, while his three main rivals remaining tightly-bunched, lapping 0.102 seconds apart, the Finn was quickest by a comfortable 0.415 seconds. So to see Hamilton win pole came as a surprise to everyone.
Hamilton set a time of 1min35.908 and achieved the sixth pole in his 16th Grand Prix.
"Looking at what happened, there were different fuels in the car (in Q3)," the Finn suggested after the session.
A win for McLaren’s rookie Hamilton on Sunday would seal his drivers’ title. Fernando Alonso is fourth, six tenths behind.
Furious Alonso says title hopes finished
A furious Alonso wrote off his chances of winning a third consecutive world championship after qualifying just fourth.
Dennis on Friday scolded Alonso for insinuating that McLaren might break with its policy of equality now that Hamilton is on the verge of his first title.
FIA president Max Mosley had warned amid the espionage saga that if McLaren "do anything wrong against Alonso, they will have to answer to us in Paris".
Alonso, in China, said he did not know if he has been put on a heavier fuel strategy for the grand prix.
"I don’t know when we are stopping, let alone the Ferraris," he said, before telling Italy’s Sky TV that the championship "has been decided off the track".
"I’m not thinking of this championship any more," said Alonso, who earlier on Saturday was quoted by a Spanish newspaper as questioning stewards’ decision to not penalize Hamilton for erratic driving behind the safety car a week ago.
He added: "I am a little bit pessimistic after the result today and after what happened all weekend."
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