Another three rounds of qualifying, with a dash of upset and a duel for pole position – not a bad qualifying session at all and it wasn’t quite the Red Bull demonstration everyone was expecting – read all about here, as it happened blow by blow…
Round 1 – Liuzzi loses out, Petrov impresses
The usual suspects were knocked out in round 1, with Lotus again proving to be the best of the new teams. Tonio Liuzzi had another tricky session and ended up the slowest of the established teams, left to join the newbies in the back seven of the grid in 18th position. Williams had a more convincing first round, comfortably clear of the Toro Rosso cars with Hulkenberg and Barrichello in 14th and 15th. Red Bull looked to be aiming to top every round of qualifying again with Vettel and Webber 1st and 2nd. Jenson Button was only half a tenth shy of Webber and Petrov less than a tenth behind him, further confirming the Renault pace. What’s more, Bruno Senna will have something to smile about after qualifying off the back row, ahead of Lucas di Grassi’s Virgin as well as his team mate Chandhok.
Round 2 – Fernando gets it wrong, Kobayashi takes advantage
Red Bull topped the timesheet again in round 2, but we’re not interested in who’s top in this session – the big story is Fernando Alonso failing to deliver by losing his car on his quick lap and ending up taking up 12th on the grid for Ferrari’s 800th grand prix – hardly what they had in mind. Cheeky chappy Felipe Massa is left to ride the prancing horse in the final round where he’ll be joined my the McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull and Renault drivers with Petrov following Kubica into the top ten shoot out. Sauber’s Kobayashi also got himself into the top 10, mainly thanks to Alonso’s woes, but credit to the chap for keeping the team on track. Williams won’t be happy though with Barrichello and Hulkenberg 15th and 17th, again failing to make even an attempt at getting into the final round of qualifying. The unlucky man was Adrian Sutil, left in 11th position, missing out by less than tenth on a shot at the top 10.
Round 3 – Webber in pole position, Schumacher in the gravel
The final shoot out was looking to be a Red Bull contest between Webber and Vettel with the McLaren boys yapping at their gearboxes, but again Lewis Hamilton pushed Webber all the way to split the Red Bull duo – Vettel seems to struggling under the pressure of his rejuvenated Aussie team mate and made an error on the first corner of his quick lap, leaving him to abort it. He was followed into the pits by Jenson Button who had a torrid final flying lap and yellow flags meant he had to back off, but he remained 4th. Michael Schumacher ended the session with his car in the gravel, but fortunately for him his previous lap was good enough for 5th, just ahead of his team mate Rosberg in 6th.
Kubica had a quieter time today, only managing 7th, only a whisker in front of 8th place Felipe Massa – it’s hardly the start of the 800th grand prix that the Italian team would like, but at least it’s neat and tidy – 8th place for their 800th grand prix (no!?). Petrov and Kobayashi took up 9th and 10th.
Mark Webber is currently unstoppable – three pole positions in three races and in a state of mind where he’s almost expecting to win, but rather than teammate Vettel alongside him, he has a rather racey looking Hamilton ready to pounce as the lights go out tomorrow. Our heart goes out to Alonso who seems to have inherited Webber’s historic poor luck with another rubbish day of qualifying, leaving it all to do tomorrow.