September 28, 2007
As expected, the rain never stopped from P3 (which was actually cancelled, not just postponed as earlier reported), but the fog did lift enough for the medevac helicopter to be able to fly, so Quals were able to take place (though delayed about 10 minutes).
"Rain," as the hoary saying goes, "is the great equalizer." Just because it's hoary, however, doesn't mean it isn't true. Jenson Button got his Honda into Q3, much to everybody's surprise, and he'll be starting 7th. Given his success in Hungary last year, I think it's becoming quite clear that he's one of the best wet-weather drivers on the grid (and given his car this season, maybe THE best rain guy). The real shocker, though, was Sebastian Vettel driving his Toro Rosso into Q3 for the first time in team history. He'll be 9th tomorrow, an impressive performance for such an insipid vehicle.
The big news is that Lewis Hamilton pipped his teammate by .110 of a second to take pole. McLaren timed his final push perfectly, and he wound up the last driver on track when the timer hit zero. Combined with the wet-but-drying conditions, he was able to chase the least-wet line around the circuit, and managed to file off the rough spots he had had earlier in the session.
So, an all-McLaren front row. That means we've got an all-Ferrari second row, of course. Once the weather turned damp, it was pretty clear that the Red Team wouldn't be on pole; Ferrari this year has had a lot of problems in the wet... of course, that's relative to McLaren. It's Raikkonen 3, Massa 4, almost a half-second behind the polesitter.
The rest of the grid:
5 Nick Heidfeld BMW
6 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
7 Jenson Button Honda
8 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
9 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari
10 Robert Kubica BMW
11 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault
12 Heikki Kovalainen Renault
13 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault
14 Jarno Trulli Toyota
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Ferrari
16 Ralf Schumacher Toyota
17 Rubens Barrichello Honda
18 Alexander Wurz Williams-Toyota
19 Anthony Davidson Super Aguri-Honda
20 Adrian Sutil Spyker-Ferrari
21 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda
22 Sakon Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari
You'll note Ralf Schumacher up there at 16. He actually made it to Q2, but never turned a lap in that session. That's because, after Q1 had ended, he decided to 'pass' Sakon Yamamoto. Actually, he pulled the sort of manuever that earned Takuma "Suicide" Sato his nickname. I've watched his banzai dive repeatedly now, and I STILL can't figure out what he was trying to do. In a race, it would have been foolhardy but bearable. On the cooldown lap after Q1, it was just stupid. The only thing that may mitigate the circumstance is the weird failure of the Toyota's rear wing when the car's FRONT tire hit the Spyker. There may have been a rear suspension failure (that led to the collapse of the rear wing... we've seen that combination before) on the Toyota that prevented Schumacher from being able to whoa up before he embedded himself in the Spyker.
Finally, while I have no numbers to back it up (and with it being 230am as I type this, I'm not going to go search for them), I believe this is the worst qualifying performance for Takuma Sato in Japan ever. He usually seems to find another gear when he gets home... maybe he just really loved Suzuka?
Right. Race tomorrow night, at 11pm central time. I'm not sure when the F1 UPDATE! will be posted, as longtime friend and occasional commenter here at The Pond, Vaucaunson's Duck, will be here to watch along!
That's a 'good-news-bad-news' thing, unfortunately. It's good that he'll be here! It's bad that he's in Duckford, though, because his father, Dr John, had multi-bypass cardiac surgery earlier this week. Vauc and his wife, Geese, are in town to help with Dr John's recovery.
Dr John is a remarkable fellow, and I'm VERY glad he's doing well after the surgery.
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