Last-second lap puts Button on pole (Spanish Grand Prix qualifying)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Button stole pole with a fabulous late lap
Button stole pole with a fabulous late lap

Jenson Button starts from pole position for the third time this year after a stunning last-gasp lap at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Button bumped title rival Sebastian Vettel back to second place having begun his final effort with only two seconds to spare.

Meanwhile it was another qualifying disaster for Ferrari as Kimi Raikkonen was knocked out in the first segment and starts 16th.


Several top drivers began Q1 trying to get quick times out of the hard tyres. But even the Brawn drivers found them too slow.

Others, like Felipe Massa, elected to run the soft tyre from the start and he went quickest of all to begin with, carrying on his form from practice with a 1’20.484.

McLaren were visibly struggling, Heikki Kovalainen seemingly rooted to the bottom five despite several attempts on soft tyres. Stuck in 18th on 1’22.093, he improved to a 1’21.675, leaving him a vulnerable 14th.

Felipe Massa and second-placed Sebastian Vettel stayed in the pits during the final flurry of laps. So did Kimi Raikkonen, but he was eight tenths slower than his team mate.

That proved a fatal mistake by Ferrari – just as it had been for Massa at Malaysia. Raikkonen was knocked back by a series of improving rivals and fell to 16th – and out of qualifying.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1’21.291
17. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1’21.300
18. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1’21.675
19. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, 1’21.742
20. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes, 1’22.204


Sebastien Buemi made the early running but a mistake at Campsa saw him bump across the gravel trap and make light contact with the barrier.

The Red Bulls, meanwhile, were flying. Mark Webber set a 1’20.007 and Vettel lined up behind him on a 1’20.220. The German might have been quicker but for a mistake at the chicane on his second lap on the soft tyres.

The heavily revised BMWs of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld were the last ones to set times, both making it into the top ten. That left Nelson Piquet Jnr, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Timo Glock and Buemi in the drop zone as the final laps began.

Glock and Rosberg escaped the drop zone at their last attempt. Rosberg improved to seventh with a 1’20.256 and made it into Q3 – meanwhile team mate Nakajima was knocked out along with Nick Heidfeld.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota, 1’20.531
12. Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault, 1’20.604
13. Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 1’20.676
14. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 1’20.805
15. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1’21.067


Toyota, Brawn and Red Bull got both of their cars into the final ten, with Massa, Alonso, Kubica and Rosberg joining the competition for pole position.

Barrichello, who had ended Q2 quickest of all, took up place at the top of the times sheets to begin with, setting a 1’21.442. Vettel eclipsed that mark but Massa failed to after making a mistake in the middle sector.

Barrichello’s final lap put him fastest on a 1’20.762 but Vettel had more pace in hand, snatching the squickest time by one tenth of a second.

Meanwhile team mate Button had left it very late to start his final flying lap – crossing the start line with just two seconds to spare after having moved over on his out-lap to let Kubica past.

Button matched Vettel in the first two sectors of the lap but an exquisite final sector – fastest of all by 0.1s – handed him a crucial pole position.

That bumped Barrichello back to third alongside Massa in the improving Ferrari. Unlike last year there were no low-fuel fireworks from home hero Alonso, who lines up seventh behind the Toyotas.

The cars’ fuel loads have been revealed: Button will pit two laps before Vettel (Spanish GP fuel weights and pit stops)

Top ten drivers in Q3

1. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes, 1?σΤιΌ??20.527
2. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1?σΤιΌ??20.660
3. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes, 1?σΤιΌ??20.762
4. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1?σΤιΌ??20.934
5. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, 1?σΤιΌ??21.049
6. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1?σΤιΌ??21.247
7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1?σΤιΌ??21.254
8. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1?σΤιΌ??21.392
9. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 1?σΤιΌ??22.558
10. Robert Kubica, BMW, 1?σΤιΌ??22.685

31 comments on “Last-second lap puts Button on pole (Spanish Grand Prix qualifying)”

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  1. Good to see Ferrari in 4th.. working their way back up!

    1. They’d be doing rather better if they’d get their pitwall sorted.

    2. Here are the cars’ fuel loads and expected strategies: Button will pit two laps before Vettel (Spanish GP fuel weights and pit stops)

  2. Keith, small correction re Q2: Glock made it out of the knockout zone too.

    Otherwise, quick fingers :)

    1. Thanks Chua – sorted now.

  3. Vettel drives for Toro Rosso? I thought he’d moved to Red Bull this year?

    1. Looks like we’ve got 3 Toro-Rosso cars on the grid:
      2. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1β€²20.660
      15. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1β€²21.067
      17. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 1β€²21.300

  4. So Ferrari finally snuck up there, eh? This has traditionally been a quick track for Ferrari, so I’ll hold off on forming an opinion on them until after the race.

    Also, anyone notice Rubens actually set a track record today?

  5. Bigbadderboom
    9th May 2009, 14:47

    I bet Massa is the lightest though, Ferrari i desperate for some positive press.

    Fuel loads will make interesting reading, do yoy know what time we can expect them Keith.

    1. I wouldn`t say so.Take a look at the FP3.Ferrari in the top.They`re comming back.

  6. 8 tenths was the gap between the fastest man Massa and 16th Raikkonen. I cant believe how close times are. I also have a suspicion that Massa will be the 1st to pit. I think he can lead going into the first corner with the help of KERS.

  7. Bigbadderboom, teams have to report their fuel loads within two hours of the end of qualifying.

    I’m happy to see something positive from Felipe. He needs to get some points finally. I can’t believe that Ferrari made the same mistake that they made in Malaysia though. Frustrating!

    1. Frustrating, indeed! How can they be complacent when they know they need results. It baffles me that Dyer was a part of this, a man that was engineer to Schumacher a few years back!

      In any case, excellent job by Jenson Button. He’s really showing his worth now, beating Barichello at the final hurdle – it’s almost worth the two rubbish seasons with the Earth cars!

  8. MacademiaNut
    9th May 2009, 15:07

    Looks like McLaren hasn’t made much progress at all. Can’t believe Ferrari would make the same mistake again. Can’t wait to see the fuel loads.

    1. Mclaren no progress as this track has “double diffuser” written all over it with its long corners – mclaren’s diffuser is still quite primitive.



  11. Gwenouille
    9th May 2009, 16:00

    Excellent display from some drivers.
    Button obviously.
    Happy for Kub to be in top 10.
    I doubt Button will turn curve N.1 in pole.
    I guess red hot Vettel will snatch him the lead soon (although I am a long time Button suporter – man, what a year !)
    Massa might have the edge over Barrichello at the start too.
    I will keep an eye on Alonso: he is sure capable of surreal driving in front of his crowd.

    I think this has been one of the most exciting Quali I’ve seen…

  12. I agree with you 100%
    checkout my post on the F1 fanatic forum

  13. It was an exciting Q3 session!

  14. glad i choose Button… 10 points for me.

    anyway, nice one there… i thought oh, well, he’s not going to beat Vettel…

    but he did indeed!! pole sitter should do the fastest lap at the very last moment at every race. Was rather nice to see all poeple going down 1 place to let Button go by

  15. After this Q1 fiasco someone’s head at Ferrari will roll; either Domenicali or Dyer.

    How can you leave Kimi sitting in 9th place when you know that the cars behind him were all capable of better times??? Incredible incompetence! And Kimi admitted he didn’t turn a great lap on top of it.

  16. Poor old Kimi. He is having an annus horribilis.

  17. That was a fun session for me. I was watching the live timing and Button was not putting is sector times in 1 and 2 that would get him pole. He really had a great last sector. Congrat too to Massa. Ferrari were idiots with Kimi.

  18. Any news about the fuel loads?? they should be public by now

  19. Bigbadderboom
    9th May 2009, 17:29

    The weights are a long time coming today? any news keith?

  20. Fuel loads are on FIA’s site.

    1.Jenson Button 646.0
    2.Sebasian Vettel 651.5
    3.Rubens Barrichello 649.5
    4.Felipe Massa 655.0
    5.Mark Webber 651.5
    6.Timo Glock 646.5
    7.Jarno Trulli 655.5
    8.Fernando Alonso 645.0
    9.Nico Rosberg 668.0
    10.Robert Kubica 660.0

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