United States GP - All red second row
This year's qualifying sessions continue to produce some thrilling action for the spectators, but it seems the current trend is for the F2007 to just lack that final bit of pace over a single lap which makes Saturday's battle between Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and its closest rivals a tough one for Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen. For the third consecutive time this season, the front row is an all McLaren-Mercedes affair, with remarkable rookie Lewis Hamilton taking his second consecutive pole position ahead of Fernando Alonso. In fact the Englishman's performance seems to have captured the imagination of an American public, whose reception for Formula 1 has tended to be lukewarm compared to the enthusiasm they show for other motorised sports.
Right behind the silver cars comes the Ferrari red of Felipe Massa third and Kimi Raikkonen fourth. Second in the Canadian Grand Prix, Nick Heidfeld is fifth for Sauber-BMW while Heikki Kovalainen took his Renault around the Brickyard in a time quick enough for sixth spot. A worthy performance came from Sebastian Vettel who will compete in his first ever grand prix tomorrow here in Indianapolis after putting his Sauber-BMW in seventh place on the grid.
The circuit here, which uses part of the famous banked oval, but run the "wrong" way, is not the most exciting, but it does provide some interesting technical challenges, mainly the compromise between a low downforce configuration for maximum speed on the straight - the usual best race option as it allows for overtaking or running with more wing that gives the car more stability through the slower part and is thus less hard on the tyres as they slide around less. The way the various cars deal with the inevitable compromise will be one of the determining factors in tomorrow's seventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship.
"All in all, fourth place is quite a good result," Kimi said after qualifying. "It was a very close session and we have to take into account the difference in weights between the cars, something which we will not have an answer to until tomorrow afternoon. Of course, I would like to always be ahead of everyone and there is always room for improvement but I think we can have a good race. It is important that there are no other cars between us and our main rivals. The car has gone well so far this weekend, especially in terms of delivering consistent performance on a long run. We will do our best to bring home a good result."
Jean Todt said, "The result of this qualifying confirms a trend that has been emerging over the past couple of Grands Prix. It was a very closely contested session at the end of which we got both our cars onto the second row. Tomorrow, we can expect a very long and difficult race, where reliability and strategy will, as usual, play a very important role. With there only being one tyre supplier, Bridgestone, we know that tyre performance can vary from car to car and from what we have seen in free practice we can be very consistent in performance terms. We will tackle the race with the qualities we have always displayed, namely passion and determination."
Luca Baldisserri commented, "A very close fought qualifying which saw us get both cars onto the second row. All things considered, it is a reasonably positive result because it puts us in quite good shape for the race. Obviously to evaluate our performance fully, we need to take into account the unknown concerning the amount of fuel people have for the first part of the race. We know that, on the opening lap, we could have some difficulties, but free practice demonstrated that our cars deliver very consistent performance and that means we can be relatively confident. It will be a very tough race run in high temperatures: so as usual, reliability will be crucial."