McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix with title contender Felipe Massa down in P5. However, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen is in P2 and will look to stay close to Lewis at the start of the race. Heikki Kovalainen is in a perfect supporting role for McLaren in P3 with Renault’s Fernando Alonso in P4 and Massa P5. BMW’s Robert Kubica starts in P6 with Toyota’s Jarno Trulli in P7. Timo Glock, Sebastian Vettel and Sebastian Bourdais complete the top ten.
Q1 was startling in two aspects – Firstly, we had the fastest car in the Toyota of Timo Glock, who pulled off a 1m 17s right at the tail end of the session. Secondly, there was a BMW in the relegation zone at the end of it all! Nick Heidfeld’s bad qualifying form caught up with him at last, having eluded him for the past few races. Whilst many thought Glock’s performance was a bit of a show-putting by the Toyota team, Heidfeld’s showing was maybe due to a technical glitch or something. The dying moments of Q1 saw Singapore GP winner Fernando Alonso haul himself back into contention having dropped down to 16th. The ones who did not make it were Heidfeld alongwith the two Honda’s of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello and the two Force India’s of Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Parity was somewhat restored in Q2 as Ferrari’s Felipe Massa comfortably topped the timesheets with the two McLaren’s of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton behind him. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen could only manage 7th fastest though. Once again, the two Toro Rossos made into the top 10 whereas the two Red Bulls did not. Those who were relegated: David Coulthard, Nelson Piquet, Kazuki Nakajima, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg.
Q3 was a straight shootout between the top two teams and the initial pace-setter was the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. Massa was following closely but kinda dropped out on his second run. Hamilton’s second run was quickest of them all and he snatched pole position from Kimi Raikkonen. Quick runs from Alonso and Trulli had pushed down Kovalainen but with his last run, the Finn managed the third-fastest time. The race will be an intriguing one as Kimi would hope to keep in Lewis from streaking away into the distance and Heikki doing the same with Kimi. Massa, however, will have to play catch-up and with Alonso in front of him, won’t be an easy task. He has to have a perfect start and if he can get ahead of Alonso, Heikki and Kimi, he and Lewis can duel out in the front as Kimi keeps the field at bay. Gonna be a cracker of a race, for sure!
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