felipeonpole.jpgGoing into the Qualifying sessions after Free practice, it very much looked like McLaren Mercedes had the upper hand over their rivals from Maranello, with the Ferrari boys appearing to struggle to find a car set-up to suit them.

Therefore it came as a wonderful surprise to us, and a bit of a nasty shock to Nando when in the dying sessions of Qualy 3 Ferrari’s Felipe Massa snuck round and stole pole position for today’s race with a stunning lap.

It had been fairly evident that Nando had thought the pole was his “for sure”, and no matter how hard he tried to protest to the contrary, it was evident from his miserable little mutton chops in the press conference that he wasn’t best happy that Felipe had stolen his thunder at his home Grand Prix, as the Spaniard sat there looking like someone had snatched his bag of penny sweets.

nandochops.jpgMeanwhile Felipe was visibly delighted at having wracked up yet another pole position for the third time in a row and commented in the press conference afterwards that it was a habit he liked very much. bless his little cotton socks.

Flying Finn Kimi Raikkonen secured third spot for Ferrari ahead of F1’s golden boy Lewis Hamilton, ensuring that both Ferrari’s will start from the clean side of the grid, and setting up an enticing formation for the start of the race. Let’s hope Ferrari’s unique car cooling system is up to cooling more than Kimi’s Vodka and Roll Mops this afternoon, as we can do with out any afternoon napping incidents on the starting grid.

Nando’s team-mate Lewis commented to the media after the qualifying session had ended that he was not surprised to have been in fourth place despite Ferrari looking wobbly in Free Practice as according to the young Brit “Ferrari always seem to play games in practice and we just pay no attention to it”. Which really is quite amusing coming from someone who needs Ron Dennis as a nanny, is fresh out of nappies and has a team-mate who is enormously fond of break-testing games on the way to the grid. But if McLaren want to go ahead and ignore what their main rivals are upto, then they can’t really throw the rattle out the pram when pole position is snatched from their sticky mitts at the last moment.

Meanwhile you may be wondering just where was one of F1’s self-proclaimed top three drivers amongst all of this, Ralf Schumacher was doing his usual sterling job in his Toyota and managed to get himself knocked out in the first qualifying session by only posting the 17th fastest time. But we must remember it’s all because the tyres don’t suit him, otherwise he would have thrashed the pants off the 16 men in front of him who incidentally all seem to have got to grips with their round black things. It’s like the princess and the pea story really…another mattress Princess Ralf?

Apart from Ralfie, the first knock out session saw Red Bull’s Mark Webber relegated in 19th spot due to technical problems. Torro Rosso’s Scott Speed also suffering technical glitches with the engine software on his car meaning the American will start from last on the grid, not that will really make much difference from usual as he is used to driving around toward the back when he isn’t taking someone off, and here at FFN we think he should really change his name to Scott Slow. Adrian Sutil and Christian ‘Crash’ Albers in the Spykers were also relegated in the first session along with Williams driver Alex Wurz who had a nightmare session. Apparently the Austrian beanpole got caught in traffic which ruined his lap…Alex lamented that the final chicane resembled a parking lot rather a race track with so many slow moving cars….but at least he came back with his head still attached so he should be thankful for small mercies.

The second qualifying session was slow to start with many of the teams frightened to send out their cars due to clouds of flower seeds blowing about around the track. Now we know F1 cars are finely tuned high tech wonders, but honestly are we to believe a flower seed can have a detrimental effect on the performance of a 600KG car? really we have heard it all…whatever next?

Once the session was finally under way, Super Aguri’s impressive charge thus far faltered. Poor Ant Davidson suffered from a curse from ITV-F1 commentator Martin Brundle who just minutes earlier was extolling us with the virtues of Ant’s smooth driving style, only to see the Englishman get it all horribly wrong in turn 3 and then turn 9, taking a spin and having flying gravel end up in just about every available orifice (of the car that is). Not wanting to be out headlined by his team-mate Takuma Sato remained true to form and broke down on track, causing the yellow flags to come out and the poor Marshalls risking life and limb to get the car off track before someone else ended up parked into the back of it. Really that man is an accident waiting to happen, and is probably the main reason behind Michael Schumacher’s involvement in the UN Road Safety Awareness Campaign. Can’t they pay him millions to stay off the road?

The end of the second session witnessed the relegation of both of the Honda’s who were still struggling with understeer and oversteer, planetary alignment issues and horrendous team management. Honda were joined by both of the Super Aguri’s, the Torro Rosso of Liuzzi and Nico Rosberg in the Williams who is in the enviable 11th position for the race…meaning he can adopt just what fuel/race strategy he wishes and go hell for leather.

The final phase of the Qualifying was a pretty normal affair with all the big guns shooting it out for top spot as per usual, but notably BMW-Sauber’s Polish driver Robert Kubica (Mr Potato Head) managed to finally outdo team-mate ‘Quick Nick’ by securing fifth spot, with Nick gaining seventh spot respectively. Even Alex Wurz commenting during the build up to the weekend that Nick should shave off his beard…and since he seemed to have slipped down from his usual fourth or fifth spot we are wondering if its now so long it’s getting caught round the steering column and causing all sorts of mishaps.

Moving Chicane Jarno Trulli (not so trully awful this time) secured sixth spot driving the sister Toyota..which must mean he is a demi-god or something when compared to Ralf who is one of the top guys.

Renault’s Heikki Kovaleinen finally managed to break into the top ten for the first time in his F1 career and even outpaced his more experienced team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella to boot, Heikki securing 8th spot and Fisichella 10th. Interestingly Fisichella is now denying the fact he told the team they should throw in the towel and concentrate on next year’s car, and is apparently furious false comments are being attributed to him in the media….of course I wouldn’t admit to it either if Flabby Briatore cornered me in the Renault Garage, all sweaty and his mouth going off nineteen to the dozen. Still next time the hacks want to attribute some quote to that Fizzy-Dizzy fellow it will be a bit more believable if they stick a few nicely dispersed four letter words in for good effect.

And finally no F1 report would be complete without F1’s Mr.Magoo David Coulthard who managed to get his Red Bull up into 9th place in the final shoot out which isn’t bad for an old age pensioner really is it? and just to prove he is a grizzly old man he got out the car and immediately started chuntering away about his age not being a problem. Denial and it ain’t just a river.

So the stage is set for a thrilling battle in just a few hours time….and hopefully a Ferrari 1-2. Forza Ferrari.