It was all happening at the Hungaroring in the 11th round of the 2007 Formula 1 Grand Prix. The Saturday Qualifying session (and its aftermath) saw some bizarre happenings which have no doubt lent a controversial air to the whole weekend. The spy scandal had taken centerstage for the past two weeks and just when we thought that matters would be decided on-track and in the race, the Qualifying session threw up dramatic results and even more controversies.
First notable point of the qualifying session was that last year’s winner Jenson Button failed to make it into Q2, finishing a measly 17th! The Hondas are having a miserable season and this was another new low! McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was fastest in Q1 with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa both showing good pace. Q2 was a disaster for Ferrari as a pit-lane bungle coupled with a mistake from Massa on his fuel-burn run saw the Brazilian stall in the pit-lane – that after the team forgot to refuel him! And they had to roll him backwards into the pits and complete the refuelling et al but it was too late for him to get upto speed and could only finish 14th fastest – Ferraris worst qualifying position. McLaren were quickest in Q2 also with Hamilton and Alonso at the top with Ferraris Kimi Raikkonen still off the pace somewhat.
The real action came at the fag end of Q3 when with 3 minutes to go, Fernando Alonso came into the pits with Lewis Hamilton waiting behind. But inexplicably, even after Alonso finished refuelling and re-tyring he stayed in the pits for a good 20 odd seconds. And that cost Hamilton dear as he was unable to complete his warm-up lap before the Chequered flag and post a flying lap. Alonso meanwhile nailed a perfect flying lap to take the pole position. Hamilton had to content with 2nd position. Ferrari’s bad qualifying was compounded when the BMW of Nick Heidfeld went third fastest ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Nico Rosberg lined up his Williams in 5th with Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher 6th and Robert Kubica 7th. Renault’s best runner was Fisichella in 8th with Jarno Trulli 9th and Mark Webber taking the 10th position.
More drama came late in the night as FIA stewards investigated the McLaren pit bungle and deemed that they had impeded the qualifying session. They slapped a 5 grid places penalty on Fernando Alonso and also decreed that McLaren would not take any constructors’ points from the race. McLaren have appealed the latter penalty.