Against all odds, Fisichella takes pole


After three practice sessions, one of them seriously compromised by the weather, it is almost impossible to draw any real conclusions. Indeed, this morning's session looked as though the order had been decided by lottery, with Jenson Button, the leading (serious) title protagonist, way down in tenth.

Overall, the most consistent team thus far this weekend has been Toyota, with BMW also looking quite good, however, in terms of the big guns, especially those fighting for the title(s), the form and pace of both Brawn and Red Bull has fluctuated wildly.

This morning, opted to change the engine in the back of Mark Webber's car, the Australian not posting a time, while Vettel has appeared unusually cautious thus far, his situation no doubt made worse by his teammate's problems.

At Brawn, despite the team's assurances otherwise, the unusually cool conditions do not suit the BGP 001 with neither Button nor Barrichello looking convincing, certainly thus far.

While the McLaren were down the timesheets this morning, both drivers have looked good for much of the time, particularly Hamilton, while Raikkonen is also a dark horse.

Then again, bearing in mind that this is Spa, one has the feeling that some of the teams know something we don't hence this morning's unusual standings on the timesheets.

While Toyota and Force India have looked good, Williams have been unusually bad while at Renault there have been times when one wonders whether Fernando Alonso is actually here this weekend. And if that sounds like an exaggeration, that's how confused things have been this weekend.

With five minutes before Q1 gets underway, the air temperature is 15 degrees C, while the track temperature is 27 degrees. It remains cool, and while sunny, there is a lot of cloud in the distance.

The lights go green and Badoer leads the way, followed by Raikkonen, Alguersuari and Fisichella.

The tyre options are medium and soft, with drivers finding the medium to be best and the soft only really good for one lap. Nonetheless, both have to be used tomorrow.

On his out lap, Rosberg is told that rain is not expected within the next thirty minutes.

Fisichella posts the first time of the afternoon, crossing the line at 1:48.386. However, this is soon beaten by Alguersuari, Badoer, Raikkonen, Grosjean and Rosberg, the German posting 1:47.237 to go quickest.

No sooner has Trulli gone quickest than he is demoted by his Toyota teammate who posts 46.394. Alonso goes third with 46.920.

Having gone fifteenth on his first lap (48.507), Button seeks to improve next time around. He and his teammate are on the harder tyre.

Barrichello goes third and his teammate fourth, ahead of Sutil, Rosberg and Kovalainen.

Sutil, Heidfeld and Buemi on hot laps, indeed, the Swiss driver goes quickest with a 45.951 as Barrichello goes off over the grass at the exit to Rivage.

With all but Kubica having posted a time, Sutil posts 45.746 to go quickest. Moments later Heidfeld crosses the line at 45.566.

A 46.165 sees Webber go seventh, only to be demoted by his Red Bull teammate who goes third with a 46.524.

Barrichello improves to second with a 46.654 while Kubica finally gets on to the timesheets with a 46.062.

Fisichella up to fifth, the Italian posting 45.873 in the ever improving Force India. Elsewhere, Hamilton posts a personal best in the first sector. He maintains the pace in the second sector, finally crossing the line at 45.767 to go fourth.

Raikkonen is 0.277s up on Heidfeld at the first split with 4:53 of Q1 remaining. At the second split he's 0.169s down on the German, despite posting a personal best. At the line it's 45.579 which puts the Ferrari driver second.

With just over three minutes remaining, Badoer, Alguersuari, Nakajima, Rosberg and Grosjean are all in the danger zone, with Kovalainen, Webber and Alonso hovering.

Trulli posts 45.331 to go quickest as Badoer is urged to find half-a-second. "Half a second and your in," urges the Englishman.

Glock goes quickest in the second sector and Hamilton in the first as Alonso seeks to improve on 46.153. The Spaniard fails, however, Webber goes quickest in the first sector.

Vettel goes second only to be demoted by his teammate who posts 45.350. Moments later, against all odds, Fisichella goes quickest as Hamilton fails to improve on eleventh.

It's all over for Badoer who spins off at Les Combes bringing out the yellow flags. Alonso improves to thirteenth, as Sutil goes fourth. Kubica also improves however, did he do it under the yellow flags?

At the end of Q1, we lose Badoer, who clouted the wall with the rear of his car when he went off, Grosjean, Nakajima, Alguersuari and Buemi.

Fisichella was quickest, ahead of Trulli, Barrichello, Sutil, Webber, Vettel, Glock, Rosberg, Heidfeld and Raikkonen. Kovalainen and Hamilton finished twelfth and fifteenth, while Button could only manage fourteenth.

Q2 gets underway and Kubica leads the way. Raikkonen and Button are also eager to get back to work. Indeed, only Kovalainen, Alonso and Rosberg remain in their garages.

Kubica crosses the line to post the benchmark, the Pole stopping the clock at 45.247. However, Raikkonen and Trulli both go quicker, the Italian posting 44.865. Hamilton goes fourth.

To emphasis Toyota's pace, Glock goes third, as Webber goes fifth ahead of Sutil, Vettel and Heidfeld.
As Trulli raises the benchmark with a 44.766, Vettel goes quickest in the first sector. The German crosses the line at 44.989 to go third, as poor middle sector means Sutil can only manage eleventh despite going quickest in the final sector.

Webber goes second (44.927), ahead of Kubica, as Barrichello takes fifth and Button ninth. Alonso is pushing hard, posting personal bests in the first two sectors. He posts another personal best in the final sector, however the two-time champion cannot improve on twelfth (45.350). Still no time from Rosberg as Williams' pain continues.

Rosberg crosses the line to post his first time of Q2, however, it's a disappointing 45.603 which leaves him fifteenth. Elsewhere, Raikkonen goes quickest in the first and final sectors, crossing the line at 44.953 to go fourth.

Trulli, Kubica, Button, Sutil, Alonso, Heidfeld and Kovalainen all on good laps and looking set to improve. However, someone has to lose out.

Glock goes second and Alonso ninth, both demoted when Heidfeld goes third. Button in the danger zone with Kovalainen and Hamilton.

Fisichella goes quickest with a 44.667 as Rosberg goes quickest in the middle sector. Button, however, has a dreadful middle sector.

Rosberg goes tenth, but is it enough? Button fails to improve and for the first time this season fails to make it through to Q3.

Trulli goes quickest and Kubica second, Barrichello slips down to fifth but is safe unlike the McLarens, both of whom are out.

Therefore, at the end of Q2 we lose some major scalps, along with Button we lose Alonso, Hamilton, Kovalainen and Sutil.

Quickest was Trulli, ahead of Kubica, Vettel, Fisichella, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Glock, Webber, Raikkonen and Rosberg.

The green light signals the start of Q3 and it is Raikkonen (softs) who gets proceedings underway. Shortly afterwards, Heidfeld heads down the pitlane followed by Kubica and Vettel.

As Raikkonen comes to the end of his first flying lap, all but Barrichello and Fisichella are on track. The Finn crosses the line at 47.218 as Vettel goes quickest in the middle sector.

Most drivers are on softs, but rather than post a time, at the end of their first flying lap they dive into the pits and fit a set of the harder (medium) option. Therefore, with just under four minutes remaining, only Raikkonen has posted a time.

Heidfeld goes second (48.778) despite getting it all wrong at the final corner. Moments later Rosberg goes second (48.479) and Barrichello fourth.

Next time around, Barrichello goes quickest in the first sector, as Heidfeld goes quickest with a 46.895.

Trulli is on a hot lap, as is Raikkonen. The Italian goes quickest with a 46.550 as Kubica goes second and Barrichello third.

A 46.308 sees Fisichella go quickest, however, Raikkonen is on a fast lap. The Finn crosses the line at 46.633 to go third only to be demoted by Heidfeld who goes second.

Kubica improves to fourth but is instantly demoted by Raikkonen, while both Red Bull drivers fail to improve, as does Rosberg.

Consequently, Giancarlo Fisichella takes pole position for Force India, ahead of another Italian veteran, Jarno Trulli. Heidfeld will start third, ahead of Barrichello, Kubica, Raikkonen, Glock, Vettel, Webber and Rosberg.

While not wanting to take anything away from Giancarlo or his team, anyone logging on to the results later today and not aware of what happened, is sure to think that there was a sudden change in the weather which turned the session on its head. Surely no-one could have predicted this. Not only do we have Fisichella on pole, his first since god knows when, we have Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica in third and fifth for a team that only has five more Grands Prix to go before it quits F1. Then there is mystery of what happened to Button and the McLarens.

If tomorrow's race is even half as unpredictable as what we have just witnessed, we should be in for a very, very eventful afternoon.

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    Published: 29/08/2009
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