News and views on motorsports

Saturday, May 28, 2005

European GP Qualifying

Stellar performance by Nick Heidfeld at the Nurburgring. The man dubbed Quick Nick takes his first ever pole position with a sublimely smooth lap, once again outstaging his much fancied team mate Mark Webber.

Kimi Raikkonen failed to make it four in a row but nevertheless starts on the front row alongside Heidfeld. I think he could probably have taken pole position had he not made a slight mistake going into turn 1 on his flying lap. But given the pace of the McLarens all weekend, I think Raikkonen once again is looking dangerous for a win.

Mark Webber initially took provisional pole with an aggressive lap that saw him 0.3 seconds inside early pace setter Jarno Trulli. The top three in qualifying a lot faster than Trulli's Toyota and head and shoulders above all the rest.

Could the others be carrying more fuel? Montoya and Alonso respectively fifth and sixth in qualifying, with times 0.8 and 1 second slower than pole position respectively could be showing signs of being heavily fueled.

This race marks the first time this season that we aren't seeing a Renault on the front row. Fisichella is ninth, some 1.5 seconds off the pole time. Rubens Barrichello again out qualifies Michael Schumacher in seventh. Michael qualified behind Fisichella in tenth, the last of the top runners. Brother Ralf qualifies in eighth.

The real shocker in qualifying is the BAR team's performance. Jenson Button is some 2.5 seconds off the pace with Takuma Sato a further 0.4 seconds further back. Banned for two races, the BAR team had talked about getting back into the fray with a bang. But such is the pace of Formula 1 development, that if you're not in the thick of things for even a couple of races, you get left behind big time. Button finds himself staring at the Sauber of Filipe Massa and the Red Bull of Coulthard in front of him. Bad, all bad for BAR.

I don't really like this qualifying format. Yes, I supposse for some its less confusing and what not but I'd have preferred a single qualifying session on low fuel, the better for us to guage the ultimate speed of the cars. Right now, with cars fueled for the race, we won't know until the race just how fast the cars really are.

Nurburgring is a circuit at which it is possible to overtake, in direct contrast to Monaco. As such, I think the Ferraris look dangerous here this weekend. It remains to be seen how their tyres respond to the heat. After Monaco, Barrichello is says the gloves are off and he'll be battling his team mate from now on. Lets see if Jean Todt will let him though.

But congratulations to Nick Heidfled for securing his pole position. Very much underrated by a lot of people, he's making use of this, his first opportunity is a top car, to the fullest. And he's making it a habit of outperforming Mark Webber.

On Tuesday, the board of BMW will meet to consider the purchase of the Sauber team. Perhaps Nick Heidfeld will be part of those plans. Whatever the case is and whilst I'm always behind the Iceman, I wish Heidfeld a win for tomorrow. He deserves it.

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