German GP Qualifying
The qualifying sessions are becoming more entertaining than the races, judging by the French GP and today’s session at Hockenheim. The Ferraris were quick, just as we expected, but Alonso failed to provide a serious challenge to them. That was left to Kimi Raikkonen, who threw in a very quick lap to take pole position on his first set of new tires. It mattered not that later he went farming in the McLaren when trying to better his time – he had done enough already.
The Hondas bounced back from their run of bad form, Button taking fourth spot and Barrichello sixth. And the Toyotas were disappointing, only Ralf managing to make it to Q3 and then slotting in at eighth.
It’s all a bit confusing as regards tires. If the Bridgestones had retained their advantage, we would expect the Toyotas to have done better. The Ferraris look very strong, however, and Michael must be favorite for the race in spite of Raikkonen’s amazing lap. Kimi often makes the McLaren look better than it is, so it is easy to assume that his time was the product of genius alone, something that will be almost impossible for him to maintain throughout the race distance tomorrow.
Or will it? The speed of the Hondas suggests that Michelin are at least on a par with Bridgestone in Germany. And we should not forget that the removal of the mass dampers from the Ferraris and Renaults may have adversely affected their performance, especially in Alonso’s Renault. It is hard to think of anything else that could have caused the sudden loss of form from Renault.
So maybe we are seeing the reality of life without mass dampers and the McLarens are as good as they looked today. Pedro de la Rosa finished in ninth spot, which is not a bad effort after his earlier coming together with Ralf’s Toyota.
All of which is bad news for Alonso and good for Michael Schumacher. Even if Kimi proves equal to the task of winning the GP tomorrow, Michael should finish no lower than second while Fernando will have to work hard to bag a decent number of points. The Ferrari team have said that they need help from the other teams if Michael is to catch Alonso in the championship – a McLaren resurgence would be just what they need. If Renault weren’t sweating already, they should start now!
One final word for the guy who grabbed tenth position: David Coulthard. Once again he proved that experience counts and confirms himself as the best buy outside the trio of star drivers. If he can produce such good results in a Red Bull, how would he fare in a Renault or Ferrari?