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Hamilton takes pole to set up a Spa thriller

NEWS STORY
06/09/2008

With five minutes to go before today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 17 degrees C, while the track temperature is 17 degrees. Thankfully, there has been no further rain since the drizzle that permeated this morning's free practice session, though further serious downfalls are expected this afternoon and tomorrow.

It's hard to draw any real conclusion from the three practice sessions since all three took place in different conditions, however the aggregate times indicate that Ferrari has the edge. That said, following the engine problems in Hungary and Valencia, there remains a question remark as to reliability, not to mention Kimi Raikkonen's attitude. The Finn has won the last three races here, and having not won a race since Barcelona in April, nothing less than a win will do this weekend, both in terms of his title defence and indeed his future in F1.

Lewis Hamilton looks good and sounds confident, however, let's not forget that if not for that engine failure in Hungary, Felipe Massa would have won the last two races and would now be leading the championship.

The Ferrari favours hot conditions, and although that is virtually guaranteed next week at Monza, it doesn't appear as though it will be a problem this weekend.

The two tyre compound available this weekend are hard and medium, which we will refer to as hard and soft.

The lights go green and Piquet leads the way. A few moments later he is followed by Sutil and Fisichella. Race control believes that there will be no rain during this first phase of the qualifying hour.

Piquet (hards) posts the first time of the afternoon, crossing the line at 48.727. Moments later, Fisichella goes second (49.137).

On his out lap, Hamilton complains of a small vibration, his wheels out of balance.

Glock goes quickest, but this is soon beaten by Massa (47.686), as Hamilton goes quickest in the first and second sectors. No sooner has Vettel gone second (47.978), than Hamilton and Kovalainen go first and second, the Englishman posting 46.887. As Massa goes second, splitting the McLarens, Raikkonen goes fourth with a 47.740.

As Bourdais gets it all wrong at the final chicane, thereby blowing the lap, Trulli goes sixth, just ahead of his Toyota teammate.

A 47.390 sees Raikkonen improve to second, the Finn seemingly having rediscovered his mojo ;-)

With nine minutes remaining, Kubica goes fifth, ahead of Piquet, Heidfeld and Alonso. Elsewhere, Raikkonen improves yet again (46.960) further closing in on Hamilton.

Button is having a nightmare session, despite being on the soft option the Englishman can do no better than nineteenth. Nakajima is struggling also, the Japanese driver seeking to improve on twentieth. His Williams teammate is ninth.

A great lap from Coulthard who goes fifth with a 47.510, however, Kovalainen is on a strong lap, the Finn going quickest with 46.812.

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