Lewis Hamilton on pole again at Fuji (2008 Japanese GP qualifying)

Lewis Hamilton claimed the 11th pole position of his career in Fuji

Lewis Hamilton claimed the 11th pole position of his career in Fuji

Lewis Hamilton will start the Japanese Grand Prix from pole position for the second year in a row.

And his hopes of taking a decisive lead in the championship were bolstered by Felipe Massa’s failure to qualify on the first two rows: Massa starts tomorrow’s crucial race from fifth on the grid.

Part one

Nick Heidfeld was eliminated in Q1 for the second time this year

Nick Heidfeld was eliminated in Q1 for the second time this year

Qualifying started on a largely dry track with a few damp patches off-line. The championship contenders quickly took up their places at top of the time sheets, with Lewis Hamilton ahead of Felipe Massa, and the pair followed by their respective team mates.

But as the session developed it became clear the drivers towards the rear of the field were finding much more time on their second efforts. Timo Glock demoted Hamilton from the top spot with a 1’18.138 set on medium compound tyres, and that meant every driver returned to the track hunting for a lap time improvement – apart from Nelson Piquet Jnr.

Hamilton went back on top of the times but Glock pipped him again, dipping under the 1’18s with a 1’17.945.

The battle of the bottom five claimed an unlikely scalp in the form of Nick Heidfeld. It wasn’t his first elimination during Q1 this year and with team mate Robert Kubica only 0.2s quicker it showed the BMWs were simply lacking pace. Less surprising was the round one elimination of the Hondas and Force Indias.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part one

16. Nick Heidfeld 1’18.835
17. Rubens Barrichello 1’18.882
18. Jenson Button 1’19.100
19. Adrian Sutil 1’19.163
20. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’19.910

Part two

Sebastien Bourdais scraped into Q3, knocking out David Coulthard on the way

Sebastien Bourdais scraped into Q3, knocking out David Coulthard on the way

The second part of qualifying began with most of the drivers opting for the soft tyres and the Ferraris in particular demonstrating significantly better pace on that tyre. Massa went quickest with a 1’17.287 – half a second quicker than Raikkonen, and 0.2s faster than Hamilton.

Massa and Hamilton were the only drivers who felt comfortable enough with their times not to go out for a second attempt. Nelson Piquet Jnr did his first lap later but could only manage 12th, sealing his fate.

Mark Webber failed to improve, staying 13th, with the two Williams behind him. And a late improvement by Sebastien Bourdais to tenth knocked David Coulthard out as well.

Bottom five drivers’ times for part two

11. David Coulthard 1’18.187
12. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’18.274
13. Mark Webber 1’18.354
14. Kazuki Nakajima 1’18.594
15. Nico Rosberg 1’18.672

Part three

Lewis Hamilton jumped from third to overhaul both Ferraris and take pole

Lewis Hamilton jumped from third to overhaul both Ferraris and take pole

The McLarens, Ferraris, Toyotas and Toro Rossos made it into Q3, along with Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica, the latter doing an impressive job given that his team mate was knocked out in Q1.

Having been half a second slower than Massa in Q2, Raikkonen suddenly popped into the top spot with his first attempt in Q3. Massa was second, just over a tenth slower, with Hamilton a few hundredths behind and Kovalainen 0.004s slower than his team mate.

Raikkonen improved on his second attempt and Massa couldn’t find any time to beat him with. But behind them both Hamilton went fastest of all in the first two sectors, and stole pole from Raikkonen by almost a quarter of a second.

It got worse for Massa as he was bumped off the second row. First Fernando Alonso beat his time by a scant 0.022s, then Kovalainen beat the pair of them to demote Massa to fifth.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Lewis Hamilton 1’18.404
2. Kimi Raikkonen 1’18.644
3. Heikki Kovalainen 1’18.821
4. Fernando Alonso 1’18.852
5. Felipe Massa 1’18.874
6. Robert Kubica 1’18.979
7. Jarno Trulli 1’19.026
8. Timo Glock 1’19.118
9. Sebastian Vettel 1’19.638
10. Sebastien Bourdais 1’20.167

Related links

Advert | Go Ad-free

31 comments on Lewis Hamilton on pole again at Fuji (2008 Japanese GP qualifying)

1 2 3
  1. Lewis’s lap might be as good as Massa’s at Singapore

  2. Adrian said on 11th October 2008, 7:52

    Looks like the stage is set for a cracking race tomorrow…!!

  3. According to my method (already explained) see below 1st pit stop predictions:

    HAM 20 -21
    RAIK 21-22
    KOV 28-29
    ALO 22-23
    MAS 27-28
    KUB 24-25

    So, bad news for Massa having Kovalainen in front with the same strategy. Kovalainen will be crucial for Hamilton tomorrow.

  4. Rahzam said on 11th October 2008, 8:13

    Bad day for Massa. Heiki and Alonso in front of him. I don’t think he will be able to pass them to get position from Kimi.

    I predict, Lewis will take driver championship and Ferrari will take constructor championship this year.

  5. kavana said on 11th October 2008, 8:19

    Agree with Rahzam. Hamilton looks strong now and he will take driver title this year…

  6. MacademiaNut said on 11th October 2008, 8:43

    So, the pole just decides who the driver’s champion is going to be?

    There are several things that could happen in the race. ;)

  7. SmASh0r said on 11th October 2008, 8:55

    I am not sure Massa is going to go 6 or 7 laps further than Lewis as IDR suggests. I personally think it would have been way risky to overfuel him intentionally as they would want to have avoided exactly what happened.

    Alex

  8. @ IDR

    That sounds interesting, where can I see the explanation for your method?
    THanks!

  9. ninguen said on 11th October 2008, 9:25

    With a straight so long i´m afraid Alonso will mean no trouble for massa, heikki we´ll see, that´s more possible to be a tough fight

  10. Very good lap from Kimi & Lewis. Massa struggled with the handling of the car

  11. Nick Caulfield said on 11th October 2008, 9:35

    This is a big test for Massa. Many people rate him as a driver rather than a racer (including me) and so unless Kimi gets ahead of Lewis and deliberately holds him up (which could backfire anyway) Massa has no choice but to race here. The car should be up to the job.

    I look forward to being proved wrong. I’d also love to see a year where Ferrari won nothing and I love the way Lewis races so would love to see him as champion but I have nothing against Massa and if he earns the WDC I would applaud him for it.

    Go on Massa – bring the fight to the front!

  12. Hello:
    Well, Heiki is not the best starting, so i think Alonso and Massa will take him before the first corner.
    Kimi may be has the “option” sending Ham out with a pair of “Ice-Eggs”, and in this situation Massa will win, the ferrari is faster than the Renault.
    Something i see clear is Alonso on podium, Heiki will not make the work…
    Greetings :-) (and thanks for waking up early and report everything)

  13. Alejandro

    I explained in this thread: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2008/09/06/belgian-gp-driver-fuel-load-predictions/

    (Comment 11)

    Of course is quite dificult to estimate real fuel loads. The method does not take in consideration differences in Driver performance between Q2 and Q3 that could affect the result, and I think this is something that will affect in this case, btw. L Hamilton has made an extraordinary final lap.

    Smash0r:

    In fact, Massa is not overfueled. Last year first pit stop were in lap 27-28. The question is L Hamilton, Kimi and F Alonso are lighter.

    I personally think Massa and Ferrari have been overconfident thinking McLaren were going to be conservative in their strategy, or maybe is Felipe Massa who has done a bad Q3, who knows…

  14. IDR I understand where you come from with your predictions although I believe in this case that you are wrong, both Kimi and Lewis admitted of being fueled heavy while Massa admitted a mistake, I think we are looking at perhaps the front row actually heavier than the second row this time. All just speculations of course till tomorrow.

    Edit: this is directed to your post #3, post #13 sounds much more sensible.

    If Ham takes 4-5p again on Massa then he might just have sealed the WC. Anything can happen in Shanghai of course but he probably wont park in the gravel again. Interlagos can still be very exciting, remember Suzuka 05? It became a great race just becuase it didnt mean anything for the WC.

  15. Jian

    Yeah, I know maths doesn’t work always. And the face of Massa after qualy was saying something was wrong with him in Q3.

    But I still think L Ham and Kimi are lighter than Kova and Massa. Probably not so much as the maths says but still lighter.

    Anyhow, tomorrow we will see (if nothing strange happens)

    Imagine Kimi jumping over Lewis!!!! (one year contract extension of 50MUSD is worth enough!!!) Just kidding…

1 2 3

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.