JULY 23, 2005
GERMAN GP - SATURDAY - QUALIFYING SESSION 1 REPORT
Laurels and Hardly
Kimi Raikkonen took a splendid pole position for McLaren-Mercedes at Hockenheim, beating Jenson Button to the fastest time in qualifying by four-tenths of a second, which in modern F1 terms is a very big margin. Raikkonen's major World Championship rival Fernando Alonso was third fastest but the Renault is obviously not as fast as the McLaren these days and was six-tenths off pole.
But while McLaren could celebrate Raikkonen's achievement, it was a bitter-sweet day once again because Juan Pablo Montoya blotted his copybook again by spinning into the wall at the final corner when he was just about to take second on the grid. The result is that McLaren will be fortunate to pick up points with both cars tomorrow - which was absolutely not what was needed in the circumstances.
"There is no excuse really," said Montoya, stating the obvious. "I made a mistake and lost the car. It was going to be a really quick lap, possibly pole. I thought that all that was left was to get a good exit out of the last corner. As I lifted I lost the rear end and that was it. I am really upset for the team as everybody has been working so hard to make a one-two possible. It is really important for us in the championship."
The team is grown up enough to know that there is no point crying over spilt milk or broken bodywork. And much is now expected of Montoya for the race.
Montoya's gaffe was a boost for Jenson Button who had not expected to be second on the grid in his BAR-Honda.
The BAR gets better with each passing race and Button was happy with progress.
"The team has done a fantastic job to make sure we took a step forward after Silverstone," he said. "We did have a little too much front end on the car which meant that I had a few moments. We have made progress since Silverstone but not quite enough to challenge the frontrunners yet."
The second row of the grid featured the two Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, separated by a small margin.
"I could have been on the front row," said Alonso, " but it is actually quite good to be starting on the clean side of the track. We know that qualifying speed is our weak point at the moment but the R25 is much quicker in race trim. I hope to make up a place at the start."
The past record would suggest that this is a likely outcome.
Fisichella was ahppy with his result after a poor run recently.
Fifth on the grid was Michael Schumacher but it looked like a bit of special for the German fans as the Ferrari was nowhere up to that point. We will see when it comes to the pit stops on Sunday but this was a performance which popped up unexpectedly and that seemed a little suspect.
"It is clear that the top two teams are quicker than us," said Michael. "I can battle with Button but aiming for the top is unrealistic."
Rubens Barrichello was down in 15th on the grid and was obviously hoping for different weather on Sunday.
"Tomorrow would be very tough on tyres," he said "We will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to see fi we have made the right decision."
Seeing the Williams-BMWs sixth and seventh on the grid is a bit of a novelty these days but this is Germany and so BMW was probably rather keen to show well. Either that or the two cars had little fuel on board. Remember, we were in Germany eight weeks ago and Nick Heidfeld was on pole. Something is not right in the relationship between Williams and BMW. Could it be that BMW is buying Sauber next year?
Toyota was off the pace this weekend and seeing Jarno Trulli ninth and Ralf Schumacher 12th was unusual (at least from Trulli's point of view). The two Red Bulls were between the Toyotas and Christian Klien beat David Coulthard on this occasion , due to the fact that DC made a mistake at one point.
Sauber was nowhere but this was due more to driver mistakes thatn to ultimate pace. However it is true to say that the Swiss cars did not look very stable so mistakes are not unexpected.
Down the back the Double Dutch Minardi team beat the two Jordans and with Christijan Albers just 1.2secs slower than Barrichello, there was cause for celebration at the team.
SATURDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
SATURDAY TEAM QUOTES
FORMULA 1 HOPE FOR GOVERNMENT DISPENSATION ON TOBACCO
PRACTICE 3, 4 REPORT - MCLAREN IN THE DRIVING SEAT
PRACTICE 4 RESULTS
ROSBERG ON POLE FOR GP2
THE BRAND VALUES OF F1
PRACTICE 3 RESULTS
A CHANGE IN AMERICA?
INTEL IN PLAY?