A Chinese puzzle

Kimi Raikkonen, San Marino GP 2005

Kimi Raikkonen, San Marino GP 2005 

 © The Cahier Archive

It was a fascinating qualifying session at Imola with the weather changing in the middle of the session but at the same time the track getting faster as more rubber was put down by the cars. The running order was thus very important and those who did not get a good result in Bahrain were at a disadvantage. The current qualifying favours the frontrunners and disadvantages those behind.

At the end of it all however we had an interesting preliminary grid with Kimi Raikkonen fastest in his McLaren with a lap of 1m19.886s, which was 0.003s faster than the Renault of Fernando Alonso. Progress is happening all the time, a fact that is underlined by the fact that pole position last year was 1m19.753s and lap times with the new regulations were supposed to be three seconds a lap slower. The big problem, as always, is that no-one really knew what it all meant.

What was good was that the top seven cars came from seven different teams: McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams, BAR, Toyota and Sauber and they were all covered by six-tenths of a second. Given that the running order tomorrow will change we are likely to see some more changes on the grid as the faster cars get to run in more favourable conditions. This will help Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button most of all as they were the two men with the big advantage to overcome on Saturday at Imola.

In the practice sessions to date at Imola the BAR-Honda has looked the strongest but with Button and Takuma Sato running early in the session it was always going to be a struggle to get up to the front. But down Honda way they were optimistic that on Sunday Jenson would be able to get ahead of Webber and perhaps even Schumacher on Sunday.

Schumacher was really pushing hard and the gossip in the paddock suggested that the speed of the Ferrari had to be down to the fact that the World Champion was running softer tyres and then hoping to be able to use his track position to get a decent result in the race. As usual it was all guesswork.

Tyre choice was also an issue with some mysteriously poor performances from the likes of Rubens Barrichello, Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato. All would presumably be revealed in the race.

The order, for what it is worth, was Raikkonen, Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli, Felipe Massa, Alex Wurz, Nick Heidfeld, Takuma sato, Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard, Giancarlo Fisichella, Tonio Liuzzi, Narain Karthikeyan, Tiago Monteiro, Cristijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher.

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