Hamilton takes pole as Barrichello crashes


Ahead of today's vital qualifying session, the air temperature is 30 degrees C, while the track temperature is also 30 degrees. Conditions remain ideal.

Lewis Hamilton was quickest in this morning's session, with Vettel just 0.277s behind. However, over the course of the three sessions thus far there has been no clear leader, indeed, the Brawn duo, who dominated yesterday's opening session appeared to be struggling this morning, especially in Jenson Button's case.

The Red Bulls have been up there - with Vettel appearing to have the edge over Webber - as have the BMWs, while Ferrari has been disappointing. Both McLaren drivers have looked strong, yes we include Kovalainen, while Force India appears to have lost the pace we saw in Belgium and Italy.

The bad news, as far as Rubens Barrichello's championship hopes are concerned, is that since this morning's session Brawn has opted to change the gearbox in the Brazilian's car. Consequently, Rubens will forfeit five grid places. That said, if anyone can factor this into their strategy, Ross Brawn is your man.

The lights go green, signalling the start of Q1, and Alguersuari leads Fisichella and Sutil out on to the track. Grosjean, another driver to go out early, takes to the escape road after getting it wrong.

As Alguersuari posts the first time of the afternoon (1:50.169), there are 16 cars on track. Fisichella can only manage 51.028 as he continues to struggle with the Ferrari.

As Button begins a flying lap, Buemi goes quickest (49.078) ahead of Raikkonen. Rosberg and Webber are both on hot laps.

Grosjean tells his team that there is "no brake efficiency", "it's alright, don't panic," replies his engineer, "they'll bed in".

Button goes quickest with a 48.632 but within seconds Kovalainen, Vettel and then Barrichello all go quicker. The Brazilian posting a 47.939.

Rosberg posts 47.636 to go quickest as Hamilton goes fastest in the first sector. The Englishman is equally quick in the second sector, finally crossing the line at 47.241 to take the top spot.

Vettel improves to second and Button third as Kovalainen goes quickest in the first sector. The Finn crosses the line at 47.542 to go third, McLaren first and third.

Buemi improves to sixth (47.704), with just over seven minutes remaining, leaving Trulli, Heidfeld, Alguersuari, Grosjean and Liuzzi in the danger zone.

With five minutes remaining just four cars are on track, two of them Ferraris. The Maranello duo are currently fourteenth and fifteenth. Raikkonen goes quickest in the first sector, posting a personal best in the second. At the line it's 47.293 promoting the Finn to second.

With 1:50 on the clock, all but Hamilton and Vettel are on track. Kovalainen making a late decision to go for another run.

Heidfeld improves to third with a 47.347, as Vettel drops to fifth.

A 47.180 sees Button go second as Barrichello posts a personal best in the first sector.

Having gone quickest in the final sector, Trulli improves to eleventh, as Barrichello goes quickest in the middle sector. The Brazilian crosses the line at 47.397 to go sixth, as Sutil and Fisichella look to make a late improvement.

Q1 comes to an end and Sutil, Alguersuari, Fisichella, Grosjean and Liuzzi are the first to fall, a rude return to earth for Force India after the glory of Spa and Monza.

Hamilton is quickest, ahead of Button, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Rosberg, Barrichello, Vettel, Kovalainen, Kubica and Nakajima.

Q2 begins and Vettel leads the way, followed, shortly after, by championship leader Button. Buemi and Barrichello are also eager to get to work. In no time, all but Heidfeld and Alonso are on track.

Vettel posts 51.995 but Button almost instantly goes quicker, crossing the line at 47.412.

Rosberg posts the fastest lap of the weekend, crossing the line at 46.197. Hamilton goes second ahead of Glock, Kovalainen and Nakajima. The pace is furious the times constantly tumbling. Everyone appears to be on the option tyre.

A 46.642 sees Vettel go second as Heidfeld and Alonso finally head down the pitlane.

Heidfeld goes fifth with a 46.832 as Alonso begins his first flying lap of the phase. The Spaniard subsequently demotes the BMW driver to sixth with a 46.767.

With just under five minutes remaining, only Raikkonen and the Brawns are on track, the Finn, along with Button, currently in the danger zone. That said, in tenth, Barrichello is far from safe - and there's the grid penalty.

As Raikkonen fails to improve, following a poor final sector, all but Rosberg are on track.

Button, like Raikkonen and Barrichello, fails to improve, however, they have one more lap.

Vettel goes quickest in the final sector but remains second. The tyres are really only good enough for one hot lap hence the failure to make any significant improvements.

A late charge sees Barrichello go sixth with a 46.787 as Webber goes second, however, this is bad news for Button and Raikkonen who both fail to make it through to Q3. Along with the Finn and the Englishman we lose Nakajima, Buemi and Trulli.

Quickest was Rosberg, with that mighty lap, ahead of Webber, Vettel, Hamilton, Glock, Alonso, Barrichello, Kubica, Heidfeld and Kovalainen.

The red light has barely given way to green when Nico Rosberg dives out of the Williams garage, the German desperate to get back to work. In the wake of 'Crashgate', in the eyes of many the Williams driver is the moral winner of last year's race here.

As Rosberg begins his first flying lap all ten drivers are on track. Vettel and Alonso are looking particularly quick.

Rosberg crosses the line at 48.348, however, moments later Vettel posts 48.204. Webber takes third ahead of Barrichello and Glock.

Having gone quickest in the middle sector, Hamilton crosses the line at 47.891 to go quickest, the last of the ten remaining drivers to post a time.

All the drivers return to the pits for new boots, and with just over three minutes remaining the final assault begins. Hamilton leaves the pits with just 2:03 remaining… he's cutting it mighty fine.

Rosberg posts a personal best in the first sector, however, it is Vettel who goes quickest just moments later.

However, it's over before it has really begun for Barrichello has gone into the wall at Turn 5 and brought out the red flags. With just 26s remaining the session will not be re-started. The Brazilian clout the wall with the rear of the car and then clouts it again with the front, leaving his crew with a lot of work to do ahead of tomorrow's race.

Consequently, Hamilton takes pole position, ahead of Vettel, Rosberg, Webber, Barrichello, Alonso, Glock, Heidfeld, Kubica and Kovalainen.

A lot of drivers, particularly Rosberg, will feel cheated that they never got to make a final run, however, that's the gamble with street circuits.

All in all a bit of an anti-climax, as it would have been nice to see what more Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel might have produced.

However, it was not to be.

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    Published: 26/09/2009
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