German GP 2008
JULY 19, 2008
Qualifying Report - Lewis's smash and grab
Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position at the end of the qualifying session for the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. The McLaren star edged out Felipe Massa by two-tenths of a second in the final seconds of the session, while his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen bounced up to third.
"I was quite happy with the way it went," Hamilton said. "I knew we had the pace. It has been very windy here and you noticed that on the back straight. You could find the wind moving the car. The team has made great steps forward with the car in the past few weeks. It is very close now."
Massa agreed that the battle between McLaren and Ferrari was very close indeed.
"It is very tight," he said. "The big question here is how much fuel the people have. The race will be a big competition between the four cars. It is very exciting."
The bad news for Ferrari was that Kimi Raikkonen was back in sixth on the grid although with overtaking possible at Hockenheim this may not be as bad as it looks.
Kovalainen confirmed that the McLaren is getting more and more competitive.
"We have made some significant steps forward on the car," he said. "The car felt the best it has felt and I was confident to be challenging for pole position, but on the first run I lost the car and went wide. On the second run I did a little bit of rallycross again, but I am happy with third.
The biggest surprise was the Toyota of Jarno Trulli in fourth place. There are, inevitably, questions about whether or not the Toyota was carrying a normal fuel load or whether the team was grandstanding.
Fernando Alonso ended up fifth fastest, edging out Kimi Raikkonen, who had a very poor qualifying session. There were troubles too for Robert Kubica in his BMW Sauber which meant that he was seventh, rather lower on the grid than normal. He did rather better than his team-mate Nik Heidfeld, who failed to get hrough Q2 and ended up 12th.
It was a good day the Red Bull teams with Mark Webber eighth, Sebastian Vettel ninth and David Coulthard 10th.
Timo Glock missed out getting into the Q3 session by a tiny fraction and join joined in exile by Nico Rosberg (13th), Jenson Button (14th) and Sebastien Bourdais (15th).
Kazuki Nakajima failed to get out of Q1 but a tenth of a second less and he would have been 10th overall, highlighting just how close things are at the moment.
Nelson Piquet had another disappointing session fort Renault and ended up 17th on the grid, just ahead of Rubens Barrichello and the two Force Indias: Giancarlo Fisichella being outqualified by Adrian Sutil on the occasion.
The big question - as ever - was one of fuel loads and strategies. Would McLaren run a two-stop strategy and try to fend off Ferrari? No-one was saying.