ffnbahrainqual1.gifWell, considering the race is barely a few hours away, it is about time we posted the qualifying report on FFN, so here goes. It was quite an interesting day actually, and it started off with the McLaren mechanics unlocking their garage only to find the overhead lighting pod not quite overhead where it is supposed to be but instead atop Fernando Alonso’s car. Unfortunately it resulted only in minor damage to the front wing which was easily corrected before the qualifying session. Pity. Then there were the rumors that FIA was investigating Kimi Raikkonen’s run-in with Scott Speed yesterday when the Finn innocently wagged a finger at Speed, only it turned out to be the middle finger much to his surprise. Plus there was the usual drama that is inevitable when David Coulthard is around – as we all know DC likes keeping people on their toes. He is either slowing down in the racing line in blinding rain, or jumping at fellow drivers with his car and attempting to take their heads off…or in this case almost running over innocent bystanders in the pitlane. Just kidding actually, DC can hardly be blamed for a pitlane mixup which might have resulted in a Toyota engineer becoming a seriously injured Toyota engineer had it not been for the quick reflexes of a nearby mechanic who pulled him back into safety.

After all this excitement in the morning, the qualifying itself turned out to be a bit anticlimactic and predictable. We have seen in the past (or at least in the last race) that the top 4 on the grid tend to be the Ferrari and McLaren drivers in various permutations and combinations, and it was no different this time. Felipe Massa clinched pole again, Lewis Hamilton continues to dazzle and qualified on the front row for the first time, while Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso will be occupying the second row of the starting grid tomorrow. Kimi was held up in traffic, but this time prudently refrained from showing Fisichella the finger, restricting himself to just almost ramming into Fisi instead. Felipe is determined not to make a hash of things this time around, and has warned Lewis Hamilton that he intends to be aggressive in protecting his position, while Hamilton thinks this is just Felipe playing elaborate mind games (now why would he think that?). Still, if Felipe swerves across at the start tomorrow, that would answer Peter Windsor’s question to Felipe as to what Michael told him after the Malaysian GP, wouldn’t it? *wink* Kimi and Alonso both sound confident about their chances for the race, so it should be an interesting start tomorrow provided everyone stays awake and/or keeps cool. The two BMWs of Heidfeld and Kubica qualified 5th and 6th respectively.

First session of qualifying was fairly straightforward with the two Spykers and two STRs getting knocked out, with Sato and DC giving them company (DC had gearbox problems). It was also quite obvious that the ‘earth cars’ weren’t going to get too far ahead in Q2, and accordingly Barrichello / Button finished in 15th and 16th respectively. Davidson added to the general air of embarrassment at Honda by outqualifying them at 13th in the Super Aguiri, while Heikki and Wurz very narrowly missed the final cut for Q3, with Heikki just 0.046 seconds slower than teammate Fisichella. That ought to stop Flavio from frothing at the mouth I suppose (at least temporarily), though it is clear the Renault team is not doing a great job defending their constructor championship this year. “At the beginning of the season, the aim was to fight for pole position and win the race” says Fisichella, “Tomorrow we just hope to score some points. It can only get better…it cannot be worse than this”. No? Well, there is Honda after all, not to mention Toyota that spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year only to release one turkey after another in quick succession.

Anyway, with only a couple of hours to go before the race starts, keeping fingers crossed for a Ferrari 1-2. Forza.