2008 Bahrain GP qualifying: Insert Pole-on-pole joke here

Robert Kubica, BMW, Bahrain, 2008, 470150

Robert Kubica took his and BMW’s first pole position in a surprisingly close qualifying session at Bahrain.

The Ferraris had looked imperious in practice but Kubica’s BMW – possible thanks to a low fuel load – nicked pole position in the dying minutes of the qualifying session.

Lewis Hamilton grabbed third for McLaren ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari.

Part one

David Coulthard, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2007, 470313

Force India set themselves the goal of getting a car through the first part of qualifying but an early slide wide by Giancarlo Fisichella showed how hard that was going to be.

Lewis Hamilton went top of the times and unusually chose to do another lap immediately afterwards that saw him improve by 0.008s. Shortly afterwards Felipe Massa joined the track and immediately showed how much faster the Ferrari F2008 is than the McLaren MP4/23: he beat Hamilton’s time by 0.8s.

But Massa set his time shortly after Takuma Sato had crashed his Super Aguri – and yellow flags were clearly waving as Massa passed the crash scene. Sato’s shunt brought out the red flags and left Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard needing to do a late lap to try to escape the bottom six. Neither driver managed it in a flurry of laps late in the session.

Drivers eliminated at the end of part one

17. David Coulthard 1’33.433
18. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’33.501
19. Sebastian Vettel 1’33.562
20. Adrian Sutil 1’33.845
21. Anthony Davidson 1’34.140
22. Takuma Sato 1’35.725

Part two

Jenson Button, Honda, Bahrain, 2008, 470313

Massa carried his substantial advantage over team mate Kimi Raikkonen and everyone else into the second part of qualifying. He was six-tenths of a second faster than Heikki Kovalainen, with Raikkonen 0.8s behind Massa, with no clear reason why the gap between the Ferraris was so large.

All bar the top five went out for a final extra lap at the end of the session. Mark Webber grabbed tenth but seconds later Jenson Button flashed across the line to take it off him.

That put one of the Hondas through (Barrichello was eliminated) and several others were left behind by their team mates: Timo Glock, Nelson Piquet Jnr and Kazuki Nakajima.

Drivers eliminated at the end of part two

11. Mark Webber 1’32.371
12. Rubens Barrichello 1’32.508
13. Timo Glock 1’32.528
14. Nelson Piquet 1’32.790
15. Sebastien Bourdais 1’32.915
16. Kazuki Nakajima 1’32.943

Part three

Robert Kubica, BMW, Bahrain, 2008, 2, 470313

Going into the final part of qualifying it looked like we were set for an all-Ferrari battle for the front row. But on the first laps Robert Kubica was within 0.011s of Massa, who was quickest, and Raikkonen was down in fifth behind the McLarens.

The other surprise was Jenson Button’s Honda fractionally quicker than Fernando Alonso’s Renault. All the drivers went out for a second attempt.

Lewis Hamilton found previously unseen pace on his soft tyres to cement third place, while Raikkonen displaced Kovalainen for fourth.

But the big news was at the front of the field where Kubica nicked pole position from Massa with his final lap. Massa had been quicker in the first sector, but seemed to lose time in the middle of the lap. Further back, Button kept his ninth place ahead of Alonso.

Top ten at the end of part two

1. Robert Kubica 1’33.096
2. Felipe Massa 1’33.123
3. Lewis Hamilton 1’33.292
4. Kimi Raikkonen 1’33.418
5. Heikki Kovalainen 1’33.488
6. Nick Heidfeld 1’33.737
7. Jarno Trulli 1’33.994
8. Nico Rosberg 1’34.015
9. Jenson Button 1’35.057
10. Fernando Alonso 1’35.115

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36 comments on 2008 Bahrain GP qualifying: Insert Pole-on-pole joke here

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  1. Robert McKay said on 5th April 2008, 14:29

    I don’t think Kubica is going to win, he will be stopping too early. However, that could screw someone like Massa if he can’t get past at the start – if Massa is lighter than Kimi et al. then he will need to gap them a bit before the stops. That’s going to be hard with Kubica there.

  2. Dan M said on 5th April 2008, 14:41

    I think BMW is trying to hold up the field to keep Hiedfeld close enough during his first stint, he seems to be carrying more fuel than the rest and also elected not to burn down his load during Q3…. How long can he go?

  3. Sri said on 5th April 2008, 15:24

    I missed live quali… but isn’t using a new engine/ gearbox punishable? Lewis would be starting from 10 places behind,  ainnit?

  4. Sri said on 5th April 2008, 15:29

    Now… more importantly… am waiting for people to lash out at Massa yet again. I would not be surprised. I know that the boy overdrives, but he is fast. Let’s see what he does tomorrow. Kimi and Nick, well, i’d hoped would have had fared better. Toyota again qualifying in top 10, is a sign of some progress. Sign of coming onto speed… About time, it has been 6 years already.

  5. Good to see BMW-Sauber on pole.  Even with low fuel they do have a fast car.  I want to see what the order is after the first corner or first lap.  Massa and Kubica on row 1, and Raikkonen and Hamilton on row 2.
    Hey, Massa’s has so far cleared his name and I’m sure he won’t be stupid this time.  He’s a good driver.

  6. Gman said on 5th April 2008, 15:43

    No matter how you look at it, it’s an impressive step forward for BMW. Many of you have mentioned interesting possibilities that could come into play tomororw. All in all, I think this is the most interesting starting grid we’ve seen this season.

  7. Massa was mighty quick in all parts of quali so he is there on merit, but I am still sure he will be lighter on fuel than the others behind him. Possibly not much lighter than Hamilton though who just didn’t seem to have the same pace. I suspect Kimi is on for a win tomorrow.

  8. Martin B said on 5th April 2008, 15:49

    If you found a Laplander that could drive something with 600 reindeer power, you could joke about Lapp times.

  9. frecon said on 5th April 2008, 15:56

    The interview with Fernando after Q3 in spanish TV was quite funny.

    FA: We didn’t expect to be in Q3, so we didn’t know what to do, what tyres use, or which quantity of fuel load. Eventually we saved the soft tyres to the race, and we chose a high load of fuel.

    I don’t know what’s the worst part: a non competitive R28, or a team which doesn’t know where’s the limit of the car.

    Kubica did it pretty well. I’m really close to win the predictions ;)

  10. It’s a good grid. If Massa hadn’t have had his moment in s2 he’d have beaten kubica. Will be interesting to see how far kimi and nick go

  11. If Massa is running light then he may feel the need for a dramatic and over zealous lunge at the first corner, but hopefully not.

    Lewis found some speed too so perhaps he has also gone for a shorter first stint than usual – again he may feel he has to clear the cars in front to benefit most from that strategy.

    Looking forard to the race – it’s lining up to be a cracker!!  :)

  12. Architrion said on 5th April 2008, 16:13

    I’m not sure Kubica is on low fuel load…. Last race everybody was saying that and it happened to be that he was heavier than both McLarens and Ferraris….. I like that guy, another one of the "hard turn in" class…. What will be thinking Peter Windsor about?????

    Last year we saw a picture from brit Media that showed a Fred angry and unable to maintain any kind of relation with any other mate…. and now we know that Kubica and Fred are very close friends, as it is with Trulli…  but we don’t know of any Hamilton friendship in the paddock…. mmmm… interesting

  13. Guto said on 5th April 2008, 16:19

    whats the point in a pole position be slower than the 16th place?
    1. Robert Kubica 1′33.096
    16. Kazuki Nakajima 1′32.943

    rules are rules. but whats the point?????

  14. The Ferraris have better race-pace than any other car, and Raikkonen seems to be running heavy. I think Hamilton and Kubica will fade later on in the race and that Massa will do just enough to stay ahead of Raikkonen after the pitstops.

  15. BMW Sauber sound quite confident after the qualifying. It may be just mind games but it may also be an indication that they are not as lightly fueled as people might think …

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