After a torrid time with technical gremlins at Melbourne which saw Felipe Massa’s world championship campaign get off to a rocky start, the question at the back of the minds of many tifosi was whether the little Brazilian was ever going to bounce back, demonstrate some of the dominant form he had shown throughout winter testing and give Kimi a run for his Smirnoff…I mean money. After dominating much of free practice it was clear the Ferrari was looking good, but could either of the Ferrari duo pull off pole position against title protagonists McLaren?
Right up until the last few seconds of the Q3 it looked like McLaren’s Fernando Alonso had things all wrapped up after dominating through out all three qualifying sessions this afternoon. Even Flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen didn’t look like he would manage to pull one over on the Double World Champion.
So it was very exciting to see little Felipe Massa sneak round and put together a fantastic lap to snatch pole position in the dying seconds from the sticky mitts of Nando, and set his championship campaign back on course this weekend.
Ferrari’s other hope Kimi qualified in third spot behind Fernando Alonso, apparently struggling to get the set-up on his car right so far this weekend, but in usual Kimi style he doesn’t seem to be overly concerned “It has been difficult to get the car right but it is not too bad and it should be okay for the race,” the Finn commented after Q3 had ended. Sometimes you can be too laid back, and I’m beginning to suspect if someone told Kimi the world was ending tomorrow we still would get an “ok…whatever” type response.
McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton qualified in fourth but seemed to be a little bit disappointed with his efforts, commenting that he had been overly cautious in qualifying due to seeing spots of rain and had backed off in order to prevent slipping off the race track. However the young Brit is not feeling too despondent about his chances tomorrow and on being questioned on whether he planned to get another demon start and try out some daring overtaking manouvres on the first lap, he commented that was indeed his plan…so Ferrari may need to ensure they get their Tetra Radio System working in order to give Kimi a wake up call in time for turn 1.
BMW-Sauber just missed out on getting both of their cars into the top six, Nick Heidfeld managed to qualify in fifth spot despite suffering some drag effect from his beard, but Nico Rosberg for Williams who obviously hadn’t been reading the script stormed round to snatch 6th spot edging out Robert Kubica (Mr Potato Head) who will start from seventh.
Further down the grid, there has been some major disappointments. Renault were unable to make it through into Qualy 3, although they did manage to scrape into 11th and 12th places respectively…but still how that can be considering they claim to be one of the magical ‘top four’ teams is quite beyond me.
Despite installing a new aerodynamic package Spyker-Ferrari still have not moved off the bottom of the grid, perhaps they might want to look into spending more time working on the car and less time complaining, going to to the courts, getting in spats and stealing Red Bull’s (STR) paperwork…they might see some improvements.
Honda’s ‘Earth Dream’ is rapidly turning into a ‘Planetary Nightmare’ as their car seems to be going backwards at a worrying rate of knots, with Jenson Button only managing to secure fifteenth spot and Rubens Barrichello a lowly nineteenth. While Jenson admits to being very frustrated and struggling to come to terms with the disaster the season is turning into already, old Rubens is putting all of his years of experience of dealing with excitable Italians at Ferrari to good use. Rubinho apparently telling his team to calm down and get a grip literally….which might be hard considering their car is about as driveable as a stubborn supermarket trolley.
According to latest reports, Rubens will be starting at the back of the grid alongside Red Bull’s David Coulthard. DC had an engine swap just before qualifying began meaning he would automatically incur a 10 place penalty. Rubens had to swap to use the T car because of technical problems, and as the team did not have enough time to swap over the engines he also has incurred a 10 spot penalty.
Williams’ driver Alex Wurz could only manage a disappointing 20th after suffering gearbox problems.
So it seems the stage is set for a thrilling race tomorrow, but the big question is will Ferrari and McLaren manage to make it through all these tetchy backmarkers alive?