Nick quick, but how quick?

Nick Heidfeld, European GP 2005

Nick Heidfeld, European GP 2005 

 © The Cahier Archive

Nick Heidfeld took pole position for the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring and the BMW Williams team was delighted to have not only Heidfeld on pole but also Mark Webber third on the grid, the pair being split by the McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen. The result was a big surprise but we have yet to see the strategies of the teams as the new qualifying means that we do not see the cars running on low fuel as we did before. This means that the Williams-BMWs are probably running lighter than McLaren - as they have done at most races this year - and so qualifying and the race may not have a great deal in common. Starting at the front, however, is an advantage and the team is keen to do well in the days before BMW makes a vital decision about the future. Heidfeld had the advantage of running after Mark Webber and the track might have been slightly better but the big question is fuel. It being Germany Heidfeld may have chosen a lighter fuel load for qualifying to try to get pole.

The other big question is whether or not the Williams-BMWs will get off the line quickly enough to hold on to the positions at the front or whether Kimi Raikkonen will be able to get ahead.

"It is difficult to know the fuel loads of the teams now," said Kimi . "We need to wait until the race and see."

The front three cars were four-tenths faster than the next best, Jarno Trulli in the Toyota, who qualified fourth ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya in the second McLaren. Renault was rather disappointing with Fernando Alonso sixth ahead of Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari). Ralf Schumacher was eighth for Toyota with Giancarlo Fisichella ninth and Michael Schumacher 10th.

Felipe Massa was strong in his Sauber in 11th ahead of David Coulthard (Red Bull) and Jenson Button (BAR-Honda). The BAR team started at a big disadvantage as the track is much slower at the start of a session. The team estimated that the disadvantage for the first runner would be in the region of 1.3secs with the second runner being a second behind, the third seven-tenths and the fourth four-tenths. This proved to be the case with Takuma Sato a long way from his pace in the morning. Jenson Button was three-tenths faster but BAR found itself in 13th (Button) and 16th (Sato). Between the two were Tonio Liuzzi, who looked to be on track to beat Coulthard until a mistake in the chicane and Jacques Villeneuve, who was way off the pace of Massa.

Tiago Monteiro did a good job to emerge fastest of the Jordan-Minardi battle but Patrick Friesacher was not far behind.

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