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

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. How about this:   Massa makes another TC-less mistake.  Kubica’s and Hamilton’s race pace fall off toward the middle-end of the first stint.  Kimi hammers two laps when leading during the pit stops and takes the win.

  2. I reckon BMW have put a spanner in Massa’s strategy.  The only explanation for such a difference between the two Ferraris I can think of is fuel.  After the first two races they probably figured keeping him out front away from people was the best.  Hence a light fuel strategy.  After the practice sessions they knew they had an advantage but over-estimated it and Bob has nicked in the there.  Now Massa won’t be able to scamper away from the pack and will be forced to mix it with Hamilton et al from the start.  My prediction: Cue 3rd driver error of the season.

  3. Lady Snowcat
    5th April 2008, 19:19

    Massa has yet to have a stellar start…Kimi chose not to push it with his team mate in Malaysia but he could have if he hadn’t known his strategic advantage….

    My biggest concern is that Massa has an awful start and somehow baulks Kimi from getting forward…. they’d better work out the opening choreography a la Interlagos to be certain of getting it right…..

  4. Kimi Raikkonen is sick. Apparently a flu or something like that.

  5. According to Willy Rampf they have normal race fuel load, and didn’t expect pole.


    I still look to a Kimi-Felipe-Lewis podium

  6. Robert McKay
    5th April 2008, 20:05

    But they never do say they’re running light, do they (the teams in general, not just BMW)? Ok maybe he’s not on fumes, but I’ll bet it’s a couple of laps before even Massa, and I reckon Phil B’s analysis was spot on.

  7. I understand Robert, I am amused at the thought of Massa out front of the leaders where a potential spin might collect other front runners or…..his teammate? That would effectively spike Felipe’s Ferrari career, wouldn’t it? If I were Kimi I’d rather have him behind me as far as any strategy goes.

  8. Architron. On that point, you are absolutely right.

  9. Sri, friday training motors and gearboxes are always different from the quali & race motors and gearboxes. This is a new rule for 2008 or maybe it was so already in 2007. So Lewis Sepang quali & race motor and gearbox was not supposed to be fitted until after friday training anyway – thus no penalty. Also new for 2008 (for sure) is that the FIRST time of the season you have to switch motor you get no penalty. No such rule for gerboxes though.

  10. the gearbox/engine thing is punishable but the units used on fri dont count towards that rule

  11. A funny rule. What sense does it make then when they say an  engine’s got to last 2 weekends? I completely forgot about 1’st engine change rule(but that i think only applied for the first race).

    Thanks Bob & Nathan

  12. Something to do with cost-cutting, Sri. Not that the manufacturers think it saves them any money (hence the engine freeze), but that was the justification given.

  13. I’ve met Kubica. Success in F1 couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  14. @Sri – the 1 "penalty free" engine change applies to the whole season except the last race (Brazil)

  15. Alianora La Canta: I liked it better the old way. Big effin V10s, the noise, the power(well we are there almost, but it would definitely be better with V10s). This whole idea of cost-cutting and engine effin freeze is something that i think is flawed. Manufacturers(BMW, Ferrari have done it in public) have scoffed at the notion of cutting costs. "Saved some money here, well, put it right back there then!". I think that sums their mindset. FIA should be bleedin’ whipped with their pants down(another sham for Max?) for bringing down our beloved sport.

    Milos: Thanks for reminding me mate…

  16. I am just happy for Kubica and BMW, I am surprised that so many people is making excuses here. Get the pole  with light fuel seems like an easy thing to do but it took them a lot of small steps to be there so no matter how light he is running there is no doubt they deserve it. They just have a fast car and KUB did a great job yesterday, so good job!!!

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