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Webber takes maiden pole

NEWS STORY
11/07/2009

Ahead of today's all-important qualifying session, the air temperature is 14 degrees C, while the track temperature is 22 degrees. It remains chilly, overcast and windy, however, the experts say there will be no rain over the next hour.

Lewis Hamilton has been quickest in two of the three practice sessions, however, unless the various new components he is running this weekend are a lot better than we suspect, one has to presume that the Englishman's McLaren has been running light for much of the time. Whether the Woking team would want to carry over such a strategy into qualifying, and thereby the race, however, remains to be seen.

The smart money has to be on Red Bull and thereafter Brawn. While the Brackley outfit continues to look good, certainly as far as Button is concerned, the Austrian team looks as though it is capable of a major fight back in the second half of the season.

The fact is, Brawn doesn't have the financial resources to slug it out down to the wire, while Red Bull, on the other hand, simply has to go to Dietrich Mateschitz, and ask for whatever's needed to secure both titles. He certainly has the money.

Therefore, with this in mind, assuming that Red Bull will be strong, Brawn must ensure that it maintains a high level of competitiveness and is able to pick up as many points as possible at every remaining round.

As far as this weekend is concerned, Red Bull has the edge and though it is Vettel's home race, we have a gut feeling that teammate Webber could turn the tables.

Other than Red Bull and Brawn, the difficult weather conditions are sure to play havoc in terms of form, however, Toyota, Williams and Ferrari have looked good some of the time, temperatures permitting, while Force India is surely close to opening its 2009 points account.

As for McLaren, all the upgrades - including a new floor, new diffuser, new front wing and new upper body cover - are on Hamilton's car so don't expect any miracles from Kovalainen, while Alonso's late improvement in this morning's session is sure to be down to fuel load. That said, with an eye on tomorrow's weather, and mindful of some of the French teams' more insightful strategic decisions last year, let's not write off the Spanish two-time champion.

As Robert Kubica is warned that there could be rain, media attention switches to seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher who has just arrived.

The lights go green for Q1 and yet again it is Vettel who heads the pack of drivers eager to get to work. Indeed, within moments all 20 cars are on track. Highly unusual.

Vettel sets the benchmark, crossing the line at 33.413, however, Button, Rosberg and Barrichello all go quicker.

Hamilton goes quickest, improving again next time around with a 1.686, Alonso goes second ahead of Barrichello.

Another improvement for Hamilton who posts 31.473, as Massa improves to third with a 1.915. The action is fast and furious, the order constantly changing.

Button posts 31.764 to go second as Vettel goes quickest overall in the second sector. The German crosses the line at 31.430 to take the top spot with almost twelve minutes remaining.

Hamilton goes second and Rosberg third, as Webber improves to twelfth. Both Toyotas still in the danger zone.

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