|Lewis Hamilton waves to crowd after winning pole|
In one of the best F1 qualifying sessions we have seen in quite some time, Lewis Hamilton topped Felipe Massa for pole position in Sunday's German Grand Prix after a stirring battle between the pair throughout qualifying.
Massa put his Ferrari on top in Q1 only to see Hamilton pip him in Q2. Then in Q3 Massa put his Ferrari on provisional pole with his first flying lap, ahead of Hamilton by 0.4 seconds at that stage.
Massa then went faster still and improved to 1:15.859 with his second lap, putting himself half a second clear of the field and looking assured of pole.
But Hamilton dug even deeper than Massa and went one second quicker than his previous run to beat Massa by nearly 0.2 seconds.
Heikki Kovalainen took a turn at the top of the morning timesheet, but Lewis Hamilton's consistently quicker qualifying pace netted him pole position over Ferrari's Felipe Massa. Kovalainen was just a couple of tenths shy in Q1 and Q2, but some self-confessed "rally-crossing" leaves him P3.
It's been a bad weekend so far for Kimi Raikkonen; consistently slower not only than teammate Massa, but in qualifying also the two McLarens and the interlopers Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso. "All weekend we have been struggling a bit to find a good setup," the world champion said.
Jarno Trulli was very happy with his last-gasp Q3 effort, netting him fourth on the grid. Timo Glock set exactly the same time as Trulli in Q1, but then failed to make the cut for the final ten runout. "There was no doubt he had the potential to be there," team official Pascal Vasselon said.
Nelson Piquet was less than three tenths slower than Fernando Alonso in Q1, but it was enough to leave him stranded in P17, and his complaint about Sebastian Vettel blocking him was also thrown out by the stewards. Alonso pushed on to an impressive P5. "We are confident we have a competitive fuel load," said team official Pat Symonds.
Robert Kubica had a bad morning with a driveshaft failure, but raced through all three qualifying sectors - despite being blocked by Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India in Q1 - for P7. Local driver Nick Heidfeld, wearing a special white helmet, was shaking it as he was pushed back into the garage after Q2. "I messed it up," the German said, admitting to a couple of mistakes on his second run, despite showing better pace than Kubica in Q1.
Similar pace from Mark Webber and David Coulthard through Q1 and Q2, with Webber (P8) driving ahead in the ultimate qualifying sector, despite describing Hockenheim as "one of the harder circuits" for the RB4 car. "It was a pretty messy lap," said Coulthard, P10, outpaced by his 2009 successor, Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel (P9) - the only one of the five Germans in the field to make it through to Q3 - is having yet another conspicuous weekend, splitting the cars of the team he will race for in 2009, Red Bull. Sebastien Bourdais has again been a handful of tenths off the pace all weekend so far, and he messed up his final lap with a big brake lockup, but the team isn't too unhappy with him, given his technical problems of Friday. "They were the team's fault, not his," said Giorgio Ascanelli.
Unlike teammate Kazuki Nakajima, Nico Rosberg (P13) at least made it through the initial Q1 phase. "I am still quite happy with the improvements in our car and we have taken a step forward," said the German.
Rubens Barrichello, the slowest qualifier not including the Force Indias, wasn't quite on teammate Jenson Button's pace throughout Saturday. "We got the best out of the car today," said Button (P14).
Giancarlo Fisichella is last on the grid, a few tenths behind his teammate Adrian Sutil, who had spun into the gravel in morning practice. The pair were both several tenths slower than the nearest rival cars. "We did expect to be closer to the group in front," said technical head Mike Gascoyne.