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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Imola Qualifying 2: Kimi The Man

Forget the aggregate lap times, simply look at the second qualifying laps alone. Watch these laps for an indication of race pace.

The quickest lap today belonged to McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. His second qualifying lap was the only one to dip below the 1m 23s bracket and crucially, is 0.558s faster than Fernando Alonso. On race loads, that is an absolutely cracking performance, a superb effort by the young Finn. Jenson Button is a further 0.089s behind Fernando today. His teammate Takuma Sato posted the next fastest lap of the day, a further 0.166s behind his English teammate. The BARs are certainly looking good for the race. Takuma leap frogging from 10th yesterday to 6th today on aggregate.

Where were the mighty Ferraris? Barrichello managed to set the 9th fastest time of the day. His will be starting 10th for the race. His teammate? Having trailed Jenson Button through the first and second sectors, he ran wide at the Rivazza corners into the sandbox. On aggregate then, Michael has lost 3 seconds and he'll be starting from 14th on the grid. Apparently, Michael's Ferrari looked very nervous on race load. So I suppose pushing it in this cool Imola weather was just gagging for it. Even if Michael had completed that lap, there was just no way he'd catch Jenson, Fernando or Kimi. Odds are he'd have been slower than Taku today but still ahead on aggregate. Michael was looking good for fourth on the grid today.

Now could this season get any better than this? At this moment, I'm certainly loving it. So much for the fightback. Maybe Ferrari will do better in the race. But its a very tall order.

Not so good for the other Renault. Giancarlo Fisichella managed to set only the 12th fastest time of the day. Aiyiyi. What is happening with Senor Fisichella? After Melbourne the man was brimming with confidence. He's on some sort of downward spiral. All this despite having a new B-spec engine for this weekend. I really fear for the Roman. Everyone knows he's very talented. But perhaps the mental strength isn't there and therefore the consistency. Flavio will not be putting up with performances such as these. For God's sakes Giancarlo, pull your socks up. You're making Villeneuve look good.

With Michael's off, Jarno Trulli will be starting fifth for today's Grand Prix. He also set the fifth fastest time of the day. Nevertheless, the midfield from Jarno onwards seems to be quite close. 7 runners in all setting laps times within 0.4 seconds of each other today, all in the 1m 24s bracket.

Despite doing a lap slower than Jarno Trulli today, Mark Webber qualified fourth on aggregate and will fill up the second row of the grid. Filipe Massa again outshining his teammate by about 0.9 seconds today. His lap of 1m 24.337s was eigth fastest of the day and he will also be starting on eigth. Will his illustrious (and presumably more expensive) teammate ever beat him this season?

David Coulthard will be starting ahead of his debutant teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi. But in actual fact today the young Italian posted a faster lap time than his much more experienced teammate. Unfortunately, their lack of development really shows today. At 1m 26.351s, Liuzzi's lap time is some 3.4 seconds down on Kimi Raikkonen's lap time today! On aggregate the Red Bulls are some 5 and bit seconds off the pace. Melbourne and KL must seem a very long time ago to them.

So can anyone stop the Flying Finn? 1m 22.994s today. At last, the McLaren's are showing the kind of performance we know they are capable of and we were expecting. If Kimi keeps it all together today, I have a sneaky feeling he'll cross the line first. Oh how his regular teammate must be absolutely gutted watching all this from Miami.

We await the race in just under 3 hours time.

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