Spanish GP 2008
APRIL 26, 2008
Qualifying Report - Kimi and a little theatre
Kimi Raikkonen took pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix, while Fernando Alonso made a Lazurus-like comeback to grab second place on the grid, in front of his own home crown. The suggestion, of course, was that Renault was playing to the peanut gallery and that Sunday would reveal that the team was not running much in the way of fuel. If that was truly not the case, then the Renault team has achieved progress that modern F1 teams simply do not do these days. Still, miracles always seem to be possible in the F1 world. There is no question that the Renault team has made a little progress in recent testing, but going from where the team was to where it seemed to be on Saturday afternoon. Alonso himself said that the support of the crowd was probably worth a couple of tenths but even with that the Renault progress seemed astonishing. No doubt this will please Renault boss Carlos Ghosn should he turn up in Spain on Sunday.
Alonso said that his best hope for Sunday was seventh position, which was much the same as saying that he has a light fuel load.
Beyond Alonso the grid was pretty much as expected with the two Ferraris, the McLarens and a BMW Sauber. Things were very close indeed with two-tenths of a second covering the top five. Massa was third but the gap between him and Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber was tiny and Lewis Hamilton in fifth was as close again.
Heikki Kovalainen was just over a tenth behind his McLaren team-mate and two-tenths clear of Mark Webber's Red Bull. He was a tenth clear of Jarno Trulli's Toyota.
Nick Heidfeld was a disappointing ninth in his BMW Sauber but the feeling was that the German was probably running with a bigger fuel load than some of his rivals.
Nelson Piquet was 10th and it was a good sign for Renault, even if Alonso's showing looked more like a PR stunt than a reality.
Left out in Q2 were the Hondas of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button, the pair split by the Williams-Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima. Timo Glock was in the hunt in 14thy, ahead of Nico Rosberg, while the last of the men to get through Q1 was Sebastien Bourdais in his Toro Rosso.
Failing to get through Q1 were David Coulthard in his Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel in his Toro Rosso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil in their Force Indias, the two seven-tenths apart and then the two Super Aguris of Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato.
It was a good result for Spanish fans, who were happy to cheer Fernando, but it was hard to find anyone in the paddock who thought that Fernando would be finishing up front on Sunday.
The big question, however, was whether the excitement of Saturday would result in the sale of extra Twingos, or whether the Spaniards would see through the ruse and prepare themselves for more Ferrari domination on Sunday.