|Japan qualifying: Ferrari front row|
Friday, 06 October 2006 23:13
Ferrari has taken an all red front row today at Suzuka. Massa mastered his second pole followed by Michael Schumacher. The two Toyota's have taken the second row, followed by a third row consisitng of Fisichella's and Alonso's Renaults.
Felipe Massa has taken centre stage on this crucial championship weekend by stealing pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix.
It will be a Ferrari front row for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix after Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher dominated today’s qualifying session. They will be followed at the front of the grid by the Toyotas of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, who achieved an incredible 3rd and 4th place after a terrible Chinese Grand Prix last weekend.
Felipe Massa showed he meant business with the fastest time of the opening session, the Brazilian driver taking P1 with a 1:30.112 ahead of Jarno Trulli and a pumped up Nico Rosberg, with Ralf Schumacher fourth, Jenson Button fifth and Fernando Alonso sixth. Michael Schumacher was stuck back in eighth.
Sakon Yamamoto went off at the hairpin to ruin his shot at making it through to the second session. He was eliminated along with Tiago Monteiro, his team-mate Sato, Scott Speed, Robert Doornbos and David Coulthard, book-ending an awful session for Red Bull Racing.
The start of the second session saw neither championship combatant enter the fray for the opening minutes, but when they did it was clear who had the overall pace. Schumacher took P1 with an incredible 1:28.954 to lead his team-mate Felipe Massa by almost a second. It was a stunning time and a perfect lap, and with Fernando down in eighth it highlighted just how large the task ahead of Renault would be for the final furlong.
As time ran down, Christijan Albers, Liuzzi, Webber, de la Rosa, Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen were out… yes, both de la Rosa and Raikkonen were out. It was an unthinkable result for the McLaren team, but as difficult as it will be for the team to accept, neither of the drivers made the final cut despite Raikkonen winning here last season.
In what became an incredibly close affair, every driver other than Michael Schumacher ran 10 laps. Schumacher ran 11… but that extra tour could not help him take the pole he so desperately desired. In the end his team-mate Felipe Massa stole the glory with an amazing lap of 1:29.599 to pip Schumacher by 0.2 seconds.
Stuck at the back of the group of ten was Nico Rosberg, with Nick Heidfeld ninth, but in front of these two, there was a slightly biblical feel to the grid as the teams lined up two by two by two.
There’s an all Ferrari front row, with Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli making row 2 Toyota town. Row three is Renault-ville with Fernando fifth and Giancarlo sixth, as row four is Honda central, with Button in the ascendancy over Barrichello.
Running in sequence could throw up and enthralling start to tomorrow’s race. But the most fascinating aspect is clearly the emergence of Ferrari as a potent force and Renault’s comparative lack of pace. Time will tell to what extent the difference in pace is dependant on fuel-loads, but there is a general feeling throughout the paddock that Ferrari is running quite light… either that or tomorrow’s race could be a steep hill to climb in anyone not racing in red.
|Last Updated on Friday, 16 March 2007 20:46|