European GP 2009
AUGUST 22, 2009
Qualifying Report - Hamilton leads a McLaren 1-2
Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the European Grand Prix in Valencia, with a lap that was a tenth faster than his McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen. It was confirmation that the team's performance in Hungary was not a one-off result and put the World Championship contenders Brawn and Red Bull Racing into the shade.
Rubens Barrichello was third fastest, just a few hundredths slower than Kovalainen, while Sebastian Vettel was two-tenths further back.
World Championship leader Jenson Button was fifth fastest in his Brawn ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and the Williams-Toyota of Nico Rosberg, while the top 10 was completed by Fernando Alonso (Renault), Mark Webber in a rather disappointed ninth and Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber.
"It was very close between Heikki and me," said Hamilton. "It is great to see us both here. It has been a long time since we had a 1-2 in qualifying."
In the closing minutes of the session it looked like Kovalainen would beat Hamilton, but at the second to last corner he made a mistake.
"Clearly I went over the limit," he said. "In qualifying you have to go for it. It was incredibly close. It did not work out this time, but I was lucky I did not lose more than one place."
The Q2 session had weeded out Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber, who missed out by a tiny margin, as did Force India Adrian Sutil, who seemed to have a better car than of late. Toyota's Timo Glock was 13th ahead of Renault new boy Romain Grosjean and Toro Rosso's Sebastian Buemi.
Q1 had seen Kazuki Nakajima's hopes disappear when he went off, ending up 17th behind Giancarlo Fisichella's Force India. Fellow Italian veteran Jarno Trulli was 18th in his Toyota, ahead of Jaime Alguersuari in his Toro Rosso.
Right at the back and embarrassingly slow was Ferrari's Luca Badoer, who ended the session a second and a half slower than Alguersuari and a mammoth three and a half seconds slower than Raikkonen. One can only wonder whether the Italian will be in the car in Belgium.