Hungarian GP - A chaotic qualifying
It is a cliché that the Hungarian Grand Prix is a dull weekend, but the facts tend to tell a different story; remember last year's action packed wet race? Today's qualifying session was certainly surprising and, unfortunately, a little bit chaotic for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. The plan was straightforward enough, with both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa targeting third place on the grid for tomorrow's eleventh round of the world championship. The three free practice sessions had provided enough evidence that the F2007 was not quick enough here to really challenge it closest rivals and the Finn nearly met his target, but will actually start from fourth place on Row 2. As for Felipe, a combination of driver and team error saw him fail to make the cut to get into the top ten and thus take part in Q3, so that the Brazilian starts from down in fourteenth spot.
The front row of the grid belongs to McLaren-Mercedes, with pole going to reigning champion Fernando Alonso ahead of series leader, Lewis Hamilton. But there was controversy here. Both men came into pit lane at the same time to take on tyres for their final run in Q3. Alonso was first in and although he was waved on by his pit crew, the Spaniard opted to remain stationery for a short while. Hamilton had to wait behind and the time lost meant he did not get the chance to go for a second run. Sharing the second row with Kimi is the BMW-Sauber of Nick Heidfeld. There are no less than three German drivers in the top six as, apart from Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg is fifth for Williams and Ralf Schumacher is sixth for Toyota. The Hungaroring is often described as "Monaco without the barriers," because it is so tight and twisty with very limited passing opportunities. Therefore, Felipe can expect a really tough time tomorrow afternoon, unless further unpredictable events play into his hands.
"To be honest, we were not quick enough today to think about beating our closest rivals, but I think we have a good race pace, which means we can be more competitive than we looked in qualifying," Kimi said after qualifying. "The car is very good over a long run, so I am still confident. Starting from the dirty side of the track is definitely not an advantage, even if usually we make good starts. On both my runs in Q3 I did a good lap, but I had too much understeer in the final two or three turns, where I lost valuable time. It's a problem we have had all weekend and we have not managed to solve it over the first timed lap."
Jean Todt commented, "A very disappointing qualifying for us, with one driver fourth and the other fourteenth. Felipe, who made a small mistake on his first run in Q2, then lost precious time because of a misunderstanding about refuelling between the pit wall and the garage. Then, on tyres that were definitely not at the ideal temperature, he was unable to improve his time and thus finished outside the top ten. For his part, Kimi could have reasonably hoped to have finished third, but just missed his target and ended up fourth. We know that anything can happen in the race, but we also have to be realistic and accept that we will have to fight our way up the order, especially in Felipe's case. However, as usual, the final verdict only comes on Sunday afternoon."
Luca Baldisserri said, "We made a serious mistake in our management of the second qualifying session for Felipe, not refueling him at the end of his first run. Then, Felipe found himself on tyres that were too cold and he was unable to improve, ending up outside the top ten. We decided to run the softer tyres with Kimi in Q3 but we did not manage to get the best out of them which led to a performance drop off in the final sector and that's what stopped him from taking third spot. We have to be honest and say that would have been the best we could have hoped for in this session. Tomorrow, we are expecting a very tough race, especially in Felipe's case. We will try and pick up as many points as possible."