A breathless qualifying session today saw the Toyota team monopolise the front row for the first time in their history. A fantastic effort from both drivers saw the Cologne-based Japanese team take pole and second in the dying seconds of the final qualifying session.
Even without considering relative fuel loads, a performance of this kind might have been expected from Toyota. The team have been much nearer the front this season than they have in previous years mainly thanks to the “double-diffuser” they have incorporated into the TF109. They have a useful talent in Timo Glock and a distinguished qualifier in Jarno Trulli, so the result should not come as a particular surprise.
They were not the only winners from today in the desert. Sebastian Vettel qualified a very respectable third and might prove to have some fuel on board too, making him a good bet for the race. Lewis Hamilton will be happy with fifth on the grid, putting him in a very interesting mix near the front. Fernando Alonso needs a mention too, dragging the Renault into positions the laws of physics say it shouldn’t be.
There were also drivers who did not do so well in the heat this afternoon. The Brawns, unless they are fuelled very long, will not be happy with fourth and sixth for Button and Barrichello respectively. If they are not fuelled long, it may be a sign their dominance in the dry is already waning, despite only being four races in. It was expected they might dominate longer into the season.
Mark Webber was a big loser from his spat with Adrian Sutil. Consensus seems to be amongst the press that the German should be penalised, but in Sutil’s defence he too was trying to qualify and just happened to be occupying the same bit of track as the Australian. A spectacular piece of bad luck sees Webber in 20th on the grid.
Other bad days also happened to the Ferraris, who would doubtless admit to being at the wrong end of the top ten, and Nelson Piquet (although critics would say the lad doesn’t have many good days). The Brazilian cut a lonely figure as he walked back to the paddock having dropped ignominiously out of Q2 with a mistake at the penultimate corner.
No sign of the sand disrupting proceedings will come as welcome news to fans.