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Timeless pole for Alonso at Budapest
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Timeless pole for Alonso at Budapest
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Jul 2009   |  3:02 pm GMT  |  10 comments

Fernando Alonso took his first pole position since Monza 2007 today in a chaotic session at the Hungaroring in Budapest.

The timing systems failed in the closing laps, which meant that no-one knew who was on pole and what the top ten grid positions were as the drivers assembled in parc ferme. It emerged that it was Fernando Alonso, who was surprised to find that he had taken his 18th career pole. Renault have improved the car a lot in the last couple of races, with a variety of experimental front wings available for Alonso this weekend.

The Spaniard only just made it through Q1 after they gambled on the soft tyre for early runs and then on his first run on supersoft he had a yellow flag, so had to do everything on his final run.

“It was quite stressful and on the limit,” said Fernando.

Last season Renault started badly and found pace as the year went on and Alonso scored more points than anyone in the second half of the season. It seems that they are having a Groundhog Day.

Sebastian Vettel did a great job in the final part of qualifying, having trailed team mate Mark Webber in practice and the early part of qualifying by two tenths. But he pulled out a very fast Q3 lap to beat his team mate. Webber, who was third,  was forced to admit that Vettel had done a better job, after he made a small mistake in the middle sector of his lap.

The timing screens briefly burst into life after the session to reveal that Lewis Hamilton was fourth, and if confirmed, it will be bad news for the top three as the KERS system is worth 18 metres at the start, so Hamilton is likely to pass both Red Bulls and maybe even Alonso before Turn 1.

Also to be confirmed at the time of writing is that Jenson Button will start 8th after another troubled day for Brawn. Team mate Rubens Barrichello starts 13th, having lost part of his rear suspension in the closing stages of Q2. It appears that a spring or torsion bar hit Felipe Massa, who was following, causing him to crash head-on into the tyre barriers at around 175mph. The impact was enough to set off the G force meter light in the cockpit which meant a mandatory visit to hospital, but early reports are that Massa is fine and well.

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10 Comments
  1. Eric says:

    Freakishly low probability accident. If you combine that with Surtees’ recent accident it’s extremely unlikely. I’m very glad Massa’s OK and that F1 helmets are almost bulletproof these days.

    F1 racing’s recent helmet feature certainly helped put my mind at ease a little as we waited for news of Massa. Only a few years ago there would have been a significantly higher chance of lethal consequences.

    Brawn have got to be ‘slightly’ worried now.

  2. Jake says:

    Thanks for the update on Massa James. Can you keep us upto date from the track please!!!

  3. melonfarmer says:

    If only Alonso has a variety of front wings available, does that invalidate Renault’s reported last chance saloon trial of Piquet? Reports elsewhere say Piquet is taking his squad out for a “thank you” dinner. It’s sad how this has all played out.

    Hope Felippe is ok. Can Gene, say, start from the back if Felippe is unfit to drive?

  4. Conor says:

    What a hectic day on the track. Massa’s accident was bizarrely similar to that of Surtees; such an unusual occurrence and out of all the places for debris to bounce…why straight in the head?!! Very unlucky.

    Looks like Brawn have got a lot of work to do. After so many promises they have failed to deliver. You would have thought that the introduction of a massive upgrade and the warmer temperatures of hungry.

    Quote of the day goes to JB. Nothing better than some colourful language broadcasted live on TV on a Saturday afternoon…

  5. First of all, I hope Massa gets well very soon following his operation; it was an absolute shocker of an accident.

    Secondly, I know many are talking that this may be Piquet Jr’s last race for Renault, but will Alonso’s pole and Jr’s 15th place be the final nail?
    Should Jr find himself out of a drive, is there any rumour of any of the new teams looking at him for next season?

  6. James,

    Any word on why it’s taking so long to publish the car weights? Obviously, it looks like Alonso is running very light.

    Great run by Hamilton to get 4th. He’s not all that far off of the Red Bulls, and by his admission, he didn’t get a good lap in Q3. There was one lap in which he was up by 3 tenths through S1 on Webber’s original top time (21.85), but the car got away from him in Turn 4 and he lost a good second or more. If not for that, he may have beaten even Alonso’s lap.

    In any event, the Macca looks like it’s close to competing for the front row and wins. I would say it’s clearly at least the 3rd best car on the grid now, perhaps even ahead of Brawn given that they’ve been faster than Brawn the whole weekend. This is obviously a great effort from the team to make such a big step in performance from where the car was as recently as Silverstone.

    But it also does some great things for Hamilton’s reputation as a driver, IMO. For one, he’s stuck with it despite facing tons of adversity this year (Liegate, a dog of a car, etc.). But secondly, Macca has had to rely on the feedback of its race drivers, as they have been unable to utilize DLR (arguably the best development driver on the grid) in tests. Clearly, the feedback that Hamilton is giving the team has pointed them in the right direction development-wise, so this is a sign he’s rounding himself as a driver with improved technical ability.

    Now if he would quit throwing away great chances at points in an underpeforming car with stupid mental blunders- like trying to win poles in Q1 or grands prix in the first corner- he would really cement himself as an unquestionably top driver like Alonso has. Once he takes that step, he’s going to be really outstanding.

    Next year could be really, really, really fun to watch if we get Hamilton in an improved McLaren, Alonso in an improved Ferrari, and Vettel in presumably another supreme Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull. We haven’t had a legitimate 3-way team battle for the championship in a long time. On top of that, Button could be a factor again if Brawn can find some money, and we could finally see some activity from BMW if they could ever get their act together.

  7. rpaco says:

    “It emerged that it was Fernando Alonso, who was surprised to find that he had taken his 18th career pole.”

    Quite the contrary James! Eddie Jordan drove in with Alonso who, on the way to the track, apparently told EJ that he would get pole today.

    1. Pat says:

      And I bet he put some money on it ! :)

  8. Paul says:

    Kimi could well be the dangerman today at the start. Unlike the McLaren’s he is on the clean side of the grid, and has KERS, so he could be right up there from 7th on the grid.

    James – you mentioned about McLaren going super-aggressive. What about Williams? I know they aren’t as risky as Renault or McLaren when it comes to strategy, but fuelling Rosberg and Nakajima light so they take the front row would surely have been better than Rosberg starting 5th and quite possibly behind all 3 KERS cars into the first corner

  9. Cliff says:

    James,

    Is this such a bad day for Button? Looking at the grid positions and qualifying weights, are the KERS cars the not goiing to throw a spanner in the works? Given the drag down to Turn 1 it would not be a surprise to see the Maclarens and Ferrari’s nicking a few places and forcing the Red Bulls back towards Button, and don’t we have to consider Alonso’s fuel load?. Am I just being overly optimistic? Also, are the Renaults running KERS?

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