Saturday, 5 April 2008

Bahrain Qualifying Report - Kubica Stars as Massa Falters

Pole on Pole? Pole to Pole? Pole Dancing His Way to Pole? Pole Pollaxes His Way to Pole Position? The tabloid headline writing possibilities are endless! Regardless of your pun of choice, the result is that young Polish driver has taken his first ever pole position by the slimmest of margins, and the first for BMW-F1. Read on to find out more...

Robert Kubica upset the form books with a sensational debut pole position in the Bahrain desert. Everything pointed towards a Ferrari pole position and most likely an all Ferrari front row judging by the pace in yesterday's practice sessions. However, it wasn't to be as the young Polish driver beat Massa into second place, with Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen in third and fourth respectively.

The first session included a red flag as Takuma Sato lost the back end of the Super Aguri on the exit to the final corner, spinning out into the wall. His car was too badly damaged to continue, though should make tomorrow's race without any problems. The big loser in Q1 was definitely David Coulthard, who finished the session down in 17th. It has been a rather disappointing performance from the Red Bull team so far this weekend, after showing so much promise in Malaysia. Sebastien Bourdais was probably the star of the session, making it through to the second session for the first time in his debut season.

The big story of Q2 was Jenson Button squeezing through in 10th place by the thinnest of margins, just edging out Mark Webber and his teammate Rubens Barrichello. Button would eventually end up an excellent ninth place for Honda. Aside from that everything went to form in this session.

Going into the final session Felipe Massa was in such confident form that it looked like he would breeze through to secure pole, but it wasn't to be. Lewis Hamilton was the first of the big boys to show his hand, showing that the crash he suffered in practice yersterday hasn't set him back too much. Kubica and Massa both went faster though by the end of the first hot laps. In the final runs it was Hamilton again who was the first across the line, and again he went quickest. However, behind him Kubica was flying and setting fastest sector times and went through two tenths quicker than his good friend Hamilton. Raikkonen was next through but was a slightly disappointing fourth. Massa was the last of the main contenders on a hot lap, but the timing screens showed that he had lost nearly three tenths in the middle sector due to a slight error. He couldn't manage to overhaul Kubica, missing out by a few hundredths of a second.

So a wonderful first pole position for Kubica, and for his young team BMW. Judging by how fast he was in comparison to teammate Heidfeld who finished down in sixth you would have to assume that he's very light on fuel, but a remarkable performance nonetheless. What does this mean for Felipe Massa though? He has had a dreadful start to the season and there have been rumours surrounding his future with the Scuderia. So far this weekend he had silenced the doubters, looking incredibly fast. But when it really mattered, he yet again failed to produce the goods by making a mistake on his final run. Still, he has the race tomorrow to redeem himself, and will still have to be the pre-race favourite to take the win.

Qualifying Results

01 R. Kubica BMW 1:33.096
02 F. Massa Ferrari 1:33.123
03 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:33.292
04 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:33.418
05 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:33.488
06 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:33.737
07 J. Trulli Toyota 1:33.994
08 N. Rosberg Williams 1:34.015
09 J. Button Honda 1:35.057
10 F. Alonso Renault 1:35.115
11 M. Webber Red Bull 1:32.371
12 R. Barrichello Honda 1:32.508
13 T. Glock Toyota 1:32.528
14 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:32.790
15 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:32.915
16 K. Nakajima Williams 1:32.943
17 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:33.433
18 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:33.501
19 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:33.501
20 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:33.845
21 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:34.140
22 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:35.725

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