Spanish GP 2008 qualifying: Raikkonen holds back home hero Alonso

Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Barcelona, 2008

The big question after qualifying is this: how much fuel does Fernando Alonso have in his Renault?

The Spanish driver in his home race sent the crowd into rapture by snatching provisional pole position, only to lose it at the last to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Part one

Lewis Hamilton moved to the top of the times early on and unusually Kimi Raikkonen chose to make two efforts to set a time. His final one moved him 0.6s clear of Hamilton at the top of the times.

There were 18 drivers out trying to set a lap in the dying stages of the session and predictably there was a big name knocked out who ended up blaming traffic. It was David Coulthard, who also confessed to making a small mistake in the final sector. Sebastian Vettel was also knocked out but team mate Sebastien Bourdais made it through to Q2.

Bottom six drivers’ times for part one

17. David Coulthard 1’21.810
18. Sebastian Vettel 1’22.108
19. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’22.516
20. Adrian Sutil 1’22.516
21. Anthony Davidson 1’23.318
22. Takuma Sato 1’23.496

Part two

The midfeld battle was as close as ever but this time neither of the Williams drivers made it through and both the Renaults got into the top ten.

Williams also came under pressure from the revised Hondas, running with their unattractive but apparently effective new ‘Dumbo’ wings on the front nose of the RA108. In a reversal of the usual pecking order Rubens Barrichello, 11th, beat Jenson Button and Kazuki Nakajima, 12th, headed Nico Rosberg.

Two drivers who appeared to struggle for pace at first were Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld, who later escaped the drop zone to get in the final ten.

Bottom six drivers’ times for part two

11. Rubens Barrichello 1’21.049
12. Kazuki Nakajima 1’21.117
13. Jenson Button 1’21.211
14. Timo Glock 1’21.230
15. Nico Rosberg 1’21.349
16. Sebastien Bourdais 1’21.724

Part three

The top ten comprised the usual suspects – Ferrari, McLaren and BMW – plus Renault, who got both cars into the top ten for the first time this year. Qualifying specialists Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber (despite his problems in practice) completed the top ten.

Massa was the first name to the top of the times sheets and Hamilton slotted in behind him – but neither were destined to start on the front lap.

Fernando Alonso’s 1’21.904 lap looked immaculate – but even taking into account the progress Renault have made since Bahrain, it looked like it might be fuel assisted. Pat Symonds did concede that “there was some strategy involved”.

That bumped Massa to third (he made a mistake in the final sector) and Hamilton to fifth – the McLaren driver said afterwards he was “shocked and stunned we didn’t have the pace on heavy fuel.” He was less than four hundredths of a second behind Massa.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Kimi Raikkonen 1’21.813
2. Fernando Alonso 1’21.904
3. Felipe Massa 1’22.058
4. Robert Kubica 1’22.065
5. Lewis Hamilton 1’22.096
6. Heikki Kovalainen 1’22.231
7. Mark Webber 1’22.429
8. Jarno Trulli 1’22.529
9. Nick Heidfeld 1’22.542
10. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’22.699

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17 comments on Spanish GP 2008 qualifying: Raikkonen holds back home hero Alonso

  1. M Smith said on 26th April 2008, 15:17

    Good consistent pace by BMW – the Hondas were faster than I expected to be honest.Even if Alonso’s lap was fuel assisted, it was an amazing lap all the same. He will definitely be a headache for the top 3 teams.

  2. Magnus said on 26th April 2008, 15:38

    I don’t really want to bring up the Hamilton-Alonso rivalry from last year (who am I kidding, of course I do ;)), but Alonso outqualified him in all three sessions today. In a Renault.Also, Bourdais way faster than Vettel, is the bubble about to burst?

  3. Shahriar Ahsan said on 26th April 2008, 15:41

    It was really a scorcher final 30secs… I cud not believe what was happening!
    And yes i do assume tha Alonso has a lot less fuel in the car… Nevertheless sud be a gud nice though… :-)

  4. Chas said on 26th April 2008, 15:48

    great analysis.
    i’m disappointed to see yet another track sterilized and destroyed with silly modifications in the name of safety.  interestingly it seems to me that even the drivers are getting frustrated with the tracks not being as challenging and exciting to drive, which in turn makes it a little pedestrian to watch.  what a shame!

  5. Alonso looked quick since Friday, so the car may actually be good. I was expecting them to go for the glory in light fueled car in front of home Spanish crowd it looks like that is what has happened. However if judging from Alonso’s words only I would not be that sure that the P2 is only the result of low fuel load … Well, we will see tomorrow :-)

    Disapointments of the session : McLarens, Heidfeld, DC, Vettel and Sutil …

  6. It’s goig to be interesting to see how the macs perform on the long run… and to see Alonso trying hard not to hit anyone at the first turn…

  7. nick c said on 26th April 2008, 17:28

    the qualifyin started off reali rubbish. Buth the last minute was amazin. Im a hamilton fan but i stil want alonso to do wel tomoz even though he is a rite prat.

  8. Rabi said on 26th April 2008, 17:28

    When I saw Alonso had grabbed pole I nearly jumped out of my seat from shock, I had to rub my eyes but sure enough there it was a Renault on pole.

    Now Pat Symonds said there is strategy involved and the obvious answer is that Alonso is low on fuel BUT could it be that the Renault have made that progress and are now back? McLaren have been struggling in the last three races due to poor setup, isn’t that what we said would happen with Alonso leaving? And when Pat Symonds said there is strategy involved, and knowing that Alonso and the rest of the Renault camp are in an excellent position to bluff about their setup could it be that they have Alonso on a normal fuel load and instead fueled Piquet heavier to make it look like Alonso had low fuel on board?

    Whatever the case it’s going to be a fascinating opening few laps tommorow – can’t wait!

  9. Sush said on 26th April 2008, 18:21

    Rabi, me too!, i’m an Alonso fan i’m afraid (sorry if that offends anyone)
    my girlfriend also jumped out of her seat screaming "YELLOW MAN WON!"

    While i’m estatic that he’s second, i’m waiting for the pit stops tomorrow to see what unfolds.

  10. Dan M said on 26th April 2008, 18:39

    I had to wake up at 8am to watch this and I fell asleep during q3…. First time I missed it this year. Heres hoping Alonso Heidfeld and the Honda’s have a great race!

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th April 2008, 23:41

    Sush, has someone been bullying you for supporting Alonso? Support whoever you want!

  12. Wesley said on 26th April 2008, 23:48

    Alonso never ceases to amaze,he can wring every bit of performance from a car and then some,much like Schumacher.I am not a big fan of Alonso but,I have massive respect for his skills.That man is a racer through and through.Now let’s  what he can do with that Renault during the race.I don’t think he can hold Massa off but,it will be a lot of fun to watch.

    Kubica on podium,who’s with me?

  13. Toncho said on 27th April 2008, 0:45

    ALO is clearly light but the question is how much? In any case Renault has improved a lot, ALO was 4th in Q2 (all with same fuel) and both cars made it to Q3. I bet that he may end battling for 5th place but things may change if he is able to secure P1 at the first corner and hold RAI for a while.

  14. Wesley said on 27th April 2008, 1:10

    @ milos

    I don’t understand why you consider Heidfeld as one of the disapointments of the season…he is in second place in the drivers standings.

  15. Daniel said on 27th April 2008, 1:18

    Wesley: I agree with you, and I suspect Raikkonen-Massa-Kubica will be on podium… Well, I fear that this will be the order, but hope that Felipe will stand between Kimi and Robert on the podium, on the higher step, for us to hear a glimpse of the brazilian anthem once again :)

    Seriously, I bet Alonso won’t be splitting the Ferraris after the first corner: he’ll be either ahead of or behind them…

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