Hamilton grabs pole, Force India falters in Aussie F1
Britain’s Lewis Hamilton grabbed the pole position in the season-opener Australian Grand Prix edging out defending and world champion Kimmi Raikkonen, who will start from the back of the grid on Sunday’s race.
Debutant Force India team had a disappointing day as they couldn’t be able to make it to the second round of qualifying sessions held in Melbourne on Saturday.
Hamilton’s McLaren pulled of the fastest timings in the second and third runs of the three-phase qualifying session prior to Sunday's race in the 3.295-mile Albert Park circuit on Saturday.
Hamilton logged a One-minute, 25.187 in the second session and 1:26.714 in the third to claim the top spot on the grid. BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica who challenged for pole, will start from second.
Hamilton's teammate Heikki Kovalainen got No. 3 position, beside Raikkonen's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.
The Force India Formula One Team was quite close in achieving its objective of entering the second segment of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, the opening round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship.
After a strong performance throughout the weekend, both Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil were just under a second from putting the VJM01 into the top 16, and will start in 17th and 19th respectively.
Both drivers completed three runs in the first segment increasing from 15 to 20 minutes this season but could not reproduce the strong laps of this morning’s practice, which saw Giancarlo record the 9th quickest time.
“Seventeenth, just one place behind the top 16 and Q2, so it is a bit disappointing considering the weekend so far. In the last part of my quickest lap, there was a yellow flag but there was also a lot of graining on the tyres and I lost at least three tenths,” Fisichella said.
Adrian spun on his final lap of the session, which ultimately ended his hopes of getting into Q2 for the first time, while Giancarlo had to lift off due to the resulting yellow flag.
“It was not such an easy qualifying as the track conditions were quite different to this morning. The general grip level was lower and I struggled with some under-steer with new tyres, but the second run was OK, even though the balance was not great,” said Sutil after the final practice session.
“A very disappointing qualifying session for us. Unfortunately on his final lap Adrian lost the car and sadly that yellow flag meant Giancarlo had to back off. The small delay was enough to not get through to Q2, but as we showed this morning, we have a car that is very close with the midfield group and the odd tenth can make a big difference,” said Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer of Force India.
Final Qualifying Times
1. Lewis Hamilton, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes, 1 minute, 26.714 seconds. 2. Robert Kubica, Poland, BMW-Sauber, 1:26.869. 3. Heikki Kovalainen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:27.079. 4. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Ferrari, 1:27.178. 5. Nick Heidfeld, Germany, BMW-Sauber, 1:27. 236. 6. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Toyota, 1:28. 527. 7. Nico Rosberg, Germany, Williams, 1:28.687. 8. David Coulthard, Britain, Red Bull, 1:29.041. 9. Timo Glock, Germany, Toyota, 1:29.593. 10. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Toro Rosso, did not start.
Second Session Elimination
11. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Honda, 1:26.173. 12. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Renault, 1:26.188. 13. Jenson Button, Britain, Honda, 1:26.259. 14. Kazuki Nakajima, Japan, Williams, 1:26.413. 15. Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull, did not finish. 16. Kimi Raikkonen, Finland, Ferrari, did not start.
First Session Elimination
17. Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Force India, 1:27.207. 18. Sebastien Bourdais, France, Toro Rosso, 1:27.446. 19. Adrian Sutil, Germany, Force India, 1;27.859. 20. Takuma Sato, Japan, Super Aguri, 1:28.208. 21. Nelson Piquet Jr., Brazil, Renault, 1:28.330. 22. Anthony Davidson, Britian, Super Aguri, 1:29.059.
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