sábado, 26 de mayo de 2007

Alonso denies Hamilton first pole

Wrong team!!

In the dying seconds of qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso grabbed pole off Lewis Hamilton to deny the 22-year-old his first career pole. Felipe Massa secured third spot in his Ferrari as for the first time this season a Ferrari driver failed to take pole. Kimi Raikkonen damaged his car in the second phase and will start from 15th on the grid.

It started drizzling 15 minutes before the start of qualifying but the threat of a wet session disappeared quickly as the clouds held and the track dried quickly.

Lewis Hamilton dominated the first knockout phase setting continually faster laps as he endeavoured to raise the bar for his competitors. He posted a 1:15.685s, almost half a second quicker than his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen was a further two tenths behind the Spaniard in third but the surprise performer was Vitantonio Liuzzi who set the fourth fastest time in his Toro Rosso. The six to drop out were the two Spykers, with Christijan Albers unable to go out due to hydraulic problems, the two Super Aguris, Toro Rosso's Scott Speed and Toyota's Ralf Schumacher as the German suffered yet another difficult qualifying session.

Nico Rosberg set the initial pace in the second knockout with a 1:16.100s until Hamilton responded by undercutting his first phase time by just over two tenths. Alonso then replied by snipping his team-mate's time by 0.048s with a 1:15.431. However, the most substantial moment was when Raikkonen hit the barriers around the swimming complex finally grinding to a halt at Rascasse, ironically where Michael Schumacher got in trouble for stopping in last season's qualifying and was penalised for deliberately sabotaging the session. This time however the Ferrari only blocked the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who was on a flying lap. The Finn managed to get the car back to the pits but the mechanics were unable to fix the car thus ending Raikkonen's qualifying. He had not set a flying lap so was stuck at 16th. The other five to drop out from 11th to 15th were Honda's Jenson Button, Williams' Alexander Wurz, Toro Rosso's Liuzzi, Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Renault's Heikki Kovalainen, who was held up by Red Bull's David Coutlhard. The Scot had qualified for the final knockout but was then told by stewards that he would not be allowed to participate for obstructing Kovalainen. Coutlhard had his second session times discounted and will start from 16th with Raikkonen moving upto 15th as Button was then promoted to the top ten, making both Honda drivers eligible for Q3 for the first time this season.

In the final phase, Hamilton had looked set for the top spot having dominated the session until Alonso pulled a stunning time of 1:15.726s out of the bag to beat his McLaren team-mate by just under two tenths. Hamilton had been three tenths up on his best lap but was held up by Mark Webber through the tunnel, preventing him from reinstating himself ahead of Alonso. Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella was a surprise fourth fastest ahead of Williams' Nico Rosberg, who put in a stunning performance to take fifth spot. Webber was sixth as Red Bull continued to improve with the BMW Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica taking fourth row. Honda will also be pleased with ninth and tenth fastest from Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button respectively.