Lewis Hamilton claimed his tenth career pole position this afternoon in Hungary as he chases his third straight victory tomorrow afternoon at a circuit where passing is traditionally all but impossible.
There was none of the controversy that dogged the qualifying session 12 months ago as Hamilton, cruised to a relatively comfortable pole ahead of McLaren Mercedes team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. Hamilton’s fourth pole of the season was confirmed in the very final seconds of the session as he improved on his own best time by another tenth of a second with a best time of 1:20.889s.
Kovalainen really did leave it until the final opportunity as he started his final flying lap of the session in ninth position after problems on his first run. The Finn, recently confirmed by the team for the 2009 season, calmly posted a lap just over two-tenths slower than Hamilton but it was enough to make it all McLaren front row.
Felipe Massa has been carrying the hopes of Ferrari all weekend long and today was no exception as he pushed the F2008 to its limit to qualify in third position just five-hundredths of a second behind Kovalainen. Team-mate and defending champion Kimi Raikkonen was unable to match Massa’s pace and lines up a disappointing sixth in the second Ferrari.
BMW Sauber did not look fast until the very final seconds of the session as Robert Kubica got the best from the F1.
08 to set what was at the time the second fastest time behind Hamilton. Kubica would get bumped down fourth position which is still a very good starting position at this circuit.
Timo Glock continued his impressive weekend as he lines up in fifth position for tomorrow’s 70-lap Grand Prix. Glock breezed through the first two rounds of qualifying and then lapped within half a second of championship leader and pole-sitter Hamilton. Team-mate Jarno Trulli starts ninth in the sister Toyota.
Renault achieved its objectives with both Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet making it into the top ten with the seventh and tenth best times respectively. Mark Webber did a good job to get the best from the Red Bull Renault package and lines up in eighth position ahead of Trulli and Piquet.
Considering his lack of Friday practice, Sebastian Vettel bounced back well in qualifying and only just missed out by a hundredth of a second into making it into the final round of qualifying. The Toro Rosso racer starts 11th with team-mate Sebastien Bourdais some eight-tenths adrift in 14th position.
Jenson Button’s final lap in the first round of qualifying did enough to promote him into the top 16 in the Honda. With a new rear suspension setup and a revised aero-package, Button did a solid job to go on to qualify in 12th position ahead of David Coulthard in the second Red Bull Renault. Team-mate Rubens Barrichello did not have one of his better days and starts the race from 18th position on the grid.
Nico Rosberg made it into the second round of qualifying, but then took no further part in the session after what must have been a mechanical issue with the Williams Toyota. The team had hoped for a lot better and with Kazuki Nakajima starting 17th, it will be another tough race for the Grove-based outfit.
With rumours doing the rounds regarding his future at BMW Sauber, Nick Heidfeld did himself no favours at all as he found himself eliminated from the first round of qualifying. After a poor first run that left him 15th on the grid and then Button demoting him a further position, Heidfeld had it all to do on his final run. Exiting the final turn to start his final lap, the German veteran was not in clear air as he followed Bourdais’ Toro Rosso onto the straight. The BMW Sauber slid wide and that was the end of Heidfeld’s day behind the wheel.
Shaking his hand at Bourdais, Heidfeld clearly felt he had been baulked by the Frenchman, but Bourdais himself was also tucked behind another car. That’s racing…
At the back, Nakajima starts 17th in the second Williams ahead of Barrichello and the Force India Ferrari duo of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil.
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