Canadian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Lewis on the pole
Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position in Montreal, a circuit he had never before visited. In doing so he became the second youngest driver ever to take a Formula 1 pole position, eclipsed only by Rubens Barrichello, who was two months younger when he took his first pole position at Spa back in 1994. Hamilton's achievement was spectacular given that his first laps of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve had been only the previous day. Fernando Alonso looked threatening on his final lap but at the hairpin he made a small mistake and lost three tenths of a second and that was the end of the challenge. But McLaren had a 1-2 and to make matters even better for the Woking team, Nick Heidfeld managed to put his BMW in third, faster than both Ferraris. But strategy may yet play a role in the race with the suspicion that the two Ferraris may have more fuel on board. If that it not the case then there are problems down Maranello way.
"I am just delighted," said Hamilton. "It has been an amazing day, to come here and be on pole first time. We dialled the car in in the P3 session and had the opportunity to go out and put it on pole and I took the opportunity with both hands. I nearly touched the wall at the exit of the last corner trying to get everything out of the tyres. I did not make a mistake and I am just thrilled. I was so chuffed when I came across the line and they told me I was P1."
And what of his chances of victory?
"We have the car, the strategy, the team. I need to make sure I get a good start and I have to be consistent, but I have never felt so good!"
For Alonso there was disguised disappointment.
"The first row will be enough," he said. "Tomorrow we have another chance to try to win the race. We can fight at any circuit now. It is always nice to be on the first row, nicer to be on pole - but I am extremely happy with my qualifying performance this year."
The shootout for pole had never really involved anyone other than the two McLarens but it was a big surprise to see Nick Heidfeld in third position in his BMW Sauber - particularly given the day he had had. In the morning he missed most of the session with hydraulic problems and then in the Q2 session he missed the chicane and lost his lap time and had to go for it a second time. On that last run Nick gave the wall a decent smack at the exit of the final corner, knocking the steering slightly out of line but that was fixed when the final Q3 session began. Nick kept his head and delivered the goods. The big question is how much fuel the BMW had on board. The team has been known to run heavy and to run light and so it could go either way. The two Ferraris were fourth and fifth, three-tenths down on Alonso and a shocking seven-tenths behind Hamilton. Logic would seem to suggest that Ferrari cannot have lost that much performance in so short a time and so one would expect them to be hoping to outrun the McLarens on strategy. If that is the case, then Kimi Raikkonen has the best opportunity to score his first win since Australia and get himself back in the picture in the World Championship. Felipe Massa was a tenth behind him.
There was then a decent gap of four-tenths back to Mark Webber in his Red Bull-Renault. There is no question that the team is getting better. Alas David Coulthard did not do quite as well, ending up 14th after missing out in the Q2 session. In the morning session he gave himself a very nasty jarring incident on a kerb and then he suffered from glazed brakes in qualifying which put paid to a better effort.
Nico Rosberg was seventh for Williams, just a fraction slower than the Red Bull and a fraction ahead of the BMW of Robert Kubica. The three were covered by hundredths. It was another good effort for Rosberg after his first fast run was disallowed for going across the chicane. Despite this he put the Williams team in with another chance to score points. Alexander Wurz failed to make much of an impression (again) and did not get out of the Q1 session.
Renault had a fairly miserable time with Giancarlo Fisichella ending up ninth although in all probability the Italian will be running a heavy fuel load in order to add to the points tally on Sunday. Heikki Kovalainen on the other hand was having a weekend from hell, with crashes, engine failures and a promising career that seems at this moment to be in tatters. It is going to take a great force of character and some patience from the team for Heikki to come back from all of this.
Completing the top 10 was Jarno Trulli in his Toyota and that was quite an achievement given the problems encountered by the team. On Friday there were a series of front suspension problems. The team changed set-ups and the problems went away but the team did advise the drivers to stay clear of the high kerbs in Turn 8.
"That was about as fast as I could have gone today,‚Äù Trulli admitted. "I‚Äôm very happy with that."
The same could not be said for Ralf Schumacher who again failed to impress and did not get through Q1. He blamed traffic.
Also missing out in Q1 were Anthony Davidson in his Super Aguri and the two Spykers. Kovalainen was gone too because of a crash.
The Q2 session put paid to Takuma Sato, Tonio Liuzzi, Rubens Barrichello, David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Scott Speed.