Hungarian GP: quali

What a difference a year makes. This was the race in 2007 when the McLaren team began to tear itself apart as Hamilton and Alonso worked to their own agendas during qualifying. 12 months later, Hamilton and Kovalainen are best mates after giving McLaren the front row for the first time since Monza last year.

They’ve every reason to look pleased since the McLarens were capable of seeing off the Ferraris. Felipe Massa put on a brave face by saying he couldn’t warm his tyres properly on his final out lap and his last qualifying run was compromised. But at least he’s on the clean side of the track whereas Kovalainen is not, an important point at the start on a track where going off the racing line takes drivers into a gripless world of dust and rubber marbles.
As for Kimi Raikkonen, the world champion’s refusal to speak to the waiting media as he climbed from his Ferrari said everything about a mistake on his best lap and a yet another disappointing sixth place.

Robert Kubica was happy to talk, fourth place being even better than he expected after struggling during the first two phases of qualifying, particularly after flat-spotting a tyre at the first corner in Q2. Nick Heidfeld, on the other hand, was fit to be tied when blocked by Sebastien Bourdais at the end of the BMW driver’s last lap in Q1. Bourdais may have received a five place grid penalty for his trouble but you had the feeling that, even if Heidfeld had made it into Q2, he would have been continuing the struggle he’s experienced all weekend. Heidfeld starts from 15th, a complete disaster at a track where overtaking is… difficult, if not impossible.

Two drivers who have been on the case all weekend: Timo Glock and Nelson Piquet. Glock qualifying handsomely in fifth place and it makes you wonder about the effect of a good accident similar to the big shunt when the German driver’s rear suspension broke during his home Grand Prix. Piquet, his confidence soaring after finishing second at Hockenheim, made it into Q3 after attacking the track (where he dominated GP2 two years ago) from the moment practice began on Friday.

Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso starts from seventh and he will be interested to see Jenson Button take an excellent 12th in a car that looks a pig to drive. Why should Alonso be interested? Word is that he is going to Honda for one year in 2009 before moving on to Ferrari in 2010.

Remember where you heard it first.

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