Belgian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Rouge but no Eau
Ferrari qualified 1-2 for the Belgian Grand Prix in a dramatic last minute showdown at Spa. Kimi Raikkonen emerged ahead of Felipe Massa by a tiny margin after the Brazilian locked his brakes in the final chicane. The length of the circuit helped the Ferraris get sufficient heat into their tyres for the qualifying runs. McLaren was not far behind but hopes that its fuel strategy will enable the team to win on Sunday. Fernando Alonso had that spin at Rivage on his penultimate run, but recovered quickly and was able to have a final run in which he ousted Lewis Hamilton for third place.
BMW Sauber would have been delighted with fifth place but Robert Kubica’s engine problem in the morning session meant that he incurred a 10 grid-place penalty and so will have to start 15th but his problems helped team-mate Nick Heidfeld move up to sixth after the set the seventh best lap. The penalty was also a bonus for Williams as Nico Rosberg did a good job to split the BMWs and admitted that he was also a little surprised to be going that well. Alex Wurz fared less well, complaining that his car did not have the topline speed. He ended up 15th on the grid.
Red Bull did well too with Mark Webber’s seventh after Kubica took his penalty. Team-mate David Coulthard was 11th because not only was Kubica knocked back but Giancarlo Fisichella who had set the 11th best time tumbled back down the order having decided to change an engine after the session was over.
Renault's of points thus rested (once again) with Heikki Kovalainen who qualified 10th but moved up a place thanks to Kubica's misfortunes.
Jarno Trulli was ninth in the order after the session but was another to move forward a place, giving Toyota a presence at the front again. Team-mate Ralf Schumacher did better than usual with 12th fastest time and benefited from the troubles of Kubica and Fisichella to move up to 10th.
Honda did not do a bad job with Jenson Button 14th on the timesheets and 12th on the grid, despite the fact that the RA107 was not very well-suited to the track. Rubens Barrichello failed to get out of the Q1 session and ended up 18th, having been bumped up a place when Fisichella dropped to the back.
Tonio Liuzzi was doing good things with his Toro Rosso getting through to Q2 and outqualifying Wurz, a good effort given that the Italian was feeling very unwell and had serious technical problems on Friday. He showed new signing Sebastian Vettel the way, despite all these problems.
At the back we had the Super Aguris and Spykers well-matched on this occasion. Takuma Sato was the fastest of the four ahead of Adrian Sutil, Anthony Davidson and Sakon Yamamoto.
The on-track action at Spa was somewhat overshadowed by all the high jinks in the paddock but the stage is set for an interesting race on a track where driver input can make a difference.