|McLaren teammates Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton celebrate their front row in Hungary|
Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth pole position of the year after dominating the final phase of qualifying in Hungary Saturday. Already quickest after the first runs had been completed, the McLaren driver improved his time on his final run by almost a tenth to guarantee pole. With teammate Heikki Kovalainen qualifying second and the Hungaroring being hard to pass, Sunday looks to be a field day for McLaren.
Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica will fill row two and Timo Glock will share row three with Kimi Raikkonen after securing a career-best fifth.
Hamilton is now in position to win his third straight race on Sunday with his teammate right behind and protecting his flank. Ferrari, who is struggling in recent weeks on the latest Bridgestone tires, is going to have to use pit stop strategy to have any chance of overcoming the faster McLarens. Without Michael Schumacher testing for the team any longer, the Maranello squad has lost their way.
BMW has also seemed to fall off their pace earlier in the season where they were challenging for wins. Robert Kubica did qualify ahead of Raikkonen on the second row, but his teammate Nick Heidfeld had another disastrous qualifying session by not making it out of Q1 after he hit traffic and was seen gesturing in frustration at an obviously slower Sebastien Bourdais who would not get out of his way.
Smooth sailing for Lewis Hamilton on Saturday; fastest in the morning before securing his second consecutive pole position and setting up a possible hat-trick of race wins. Heikki Kovalainen completes the front row. "A qualifying one-two is a rare and pleasing achievement," said team boss Ron Dennis.
The Italian team's trough pushed into a third consecutive race weekend in Hungary, where Felipe Massa qualified behind the McLarens. But the Brazilian is not ready to accept the F2008 is now clearly slower than the MP4-23. "In the first two parts of qualifying the car felt good, as can be seen from my times," he said, referring to the fact that in Q2 he set the fastest time of the session overall. Kimi Raikkonen is again not quite on the pace this weekend, but his P6 on the grid is also the result of a mistake in Q3. "We are going through a bit of a difficult time but we mustn't give up," he said.
Robert Kubica is a solid P4, but his furious teammate Nick Heidfeld's recent recovery from a slump - including good pace in the morning - took a back seat as he dropped out in Q1. The German said he was blocked at the end of his last lap by several cars, and Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais was indeed penalized five grid positions in a subsequent decision by the stewards. "Bourdais was right in my way," said Heidfeld, who had waved his arm at the Frenchman.
Whether in morning practice or any of the three qualifying segments, Timo Glock (P5) has been on the pace throughout Saturday at the Hungaroring. "We are in a great situation for tomorrow," said the reigning GP2 champion, despite a slight hint of disappointment about not keeping the P3 he seemed to monopolize at other times this weekend. Teammate Jarno Trulli is P9. "I have struggled for grip and balance," he said.
Fernando Alonso led his teammate Nelson Piquet in all three qualifying segments, and will line up P7 on the grid. Piquet, who was P5 in the final 60-minute morning practice session, also made the Q3 cut.
David Coulthard, who dropped out in Q2, was half a second slower than Mark Webber throughout qualifying. "We have a chance to get something from here," said Webber, referring to his P8.
Sebastian Vettel, who missed out on joining the Q3 action by the barest of margins, is once again the point-man for Toro Rosso, always several tenths quicker than his struggling teammate Bourdais, who moves five places back for blocking Heidfeld and starts the race P19.
The RA108 is clearly not good enough to make Q3 on merit, but Jenson Button pulled out a strong performance to be P12 on the Hungary grid. "It's been a while since we were only three tenths from the top ten," the Briton said. Rubens Barrichello made a mistake in Q1 and is P18, ahead only of the slowest Force Indias.
Nico Rosberg at least broke out of the company of the Q1 stragglers, but it was Williams' only boast of the day, as he then had to sit out Q2 with a hydraulic problem. "We had a good chance of making Q3," the German, whose teammate Kazuki Nakajima qualified P17 and received a 1400 euro fine for pitlane speeding on Friday, lamented.
With Giancarlo Fisichella leading the way, the Force Indias were clearly the slowest cars in Hungary on Saturday, especially in qualifying. "We're not particularly quick round here," the Roman said.