The weather is one of the main topics of conversation in around the paddock at Silverstone. Final practice this morning started with a wet track yet ended with a dry track leading to unpredictable conditions. At the start of qualifying for the 2008 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix Qualifying, there are a ominous grey clouds surrounding the circuit however the start of the session remains dry.
Nakajima is first out, quickly followed by all the other drivers. With rain threatened, all the drivers appear to want to put in some quick laps before the rain hits. Hamilton puts in the quickest time of the session but is quickly knocked off top spot by his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen with a time of 1:21.122. Raikkonen goes second, before Alonso becomes the first man to put in a lap in the 1:20s to go top. Hamilton then goes quicker as Kovalainen heads back into the pits.
Massa then goes second and is the quickest out of anyone in sector 3. Raikkonen takes second, just a tenth behind quickest man Hamilton. All the front runners are on the harder compound tyre. Webber improves his time to go fourth. With 11 minutes to go, Kovalainen moves up from P7 to P1 and is the first man with a time under 1:19.
Vettel puts in a fantastic effort to go P3, although the Toro Rosso driver is on the softer tyre option. Rosberg is also on the softer tyre. He stays 14th after a messy lap. The top 7 drivers are currently in the pits.
With 7 and a half minutes left, Bourdais goes P11 on the softer tyre. Trulli moves up from P12 to P10.
Fisichella and Heidfeld both survive brief off-track excursions as Kubica moves into fifth place. Coulthard goes P13 on the softer tyre.
With just under six minutes to go, rain starts to fall however it is only affecting part of the track. Everyone heads into the pits as Rosberg complains over the team radio that his car is dancing.
With just over two minutes to go, it looks like those in the drop zone are unlikely to improve their times. Barrichello, Rosberg, Button, Sutil and Fisichella are all currently in the drop zone. All those in the drop zone with the exception of Rosberg head onto the track to attempt to squeeze through into Q2. Bourdais also heads out onto the track although he is currently in 14th and therefore provisionally through to the next session. Part of the track looks dry, part of the track looks damp.
The chequered flag falls. Barrichello is flying. Bourdais sets the fastest middle sector of anyone! The track conditions look excellent everyone is now wondering why Rosberg didn t attempt to get out of the drop zone. Bourdais moves up to P6. Fisichella spins at Brooklands and limps back to the pits. Button moves up from P18 to P17.
Barrichello, Button, Rosberg, Sutil and Fisichella are all out.
Alonso is the first man out for qualifying session 2. Raikkonen also emerges early.
Alonso sets the early pace with a 1:20.336. Rosberg explains that he has had suspension problems all weekend apparently his engineers stripped the suspension down after practice yesterday however this did not cure the problem hence his poor form in qualifying today.
Raikkonen goes quickest. Kovalainen takes P1 with a time which is four tenths faster than his quickest Q1 time. Hamilton goes quicker than his team-mate to take P1 on the softer tyre. Webber goes third.
Nakajima s first effort takes him to P13 on the harder tyre. The two BMWs are yet to set a time.
Five minutes remaining. Heidfeld and Kubica are the only two drivers on track. Kubica goes third on the softer tyre. Heidfeld, also on the softer tyres, goes fourth, just a fraction behind his team-mate.
Just over two minutes remaining and there is a mad dash as most drivers head onto the track. The McLarens, who are currently sitting in P1 and P2, are remaining in the pits. The BMWs, in P3 and P4, are also not going out again. Everyone else is out on track.
Vettel improves his time on the soft tyre and is now up to P7. Massa also improves, but only to P7. Alonso goes P6. DC misses out by five one hundreths of a second. Raikkonen surprisingly only manages, with Massa P8.
Coulthard, Glock, Bourdais, Trulli and Nakajima are eliminated. Hamilton, Kovalainen, Webber, Kubica, Heidfeld, Raikkonen, Alonso, Massa, Vettel and Piquet are all through to the pole-position shoot-out.
No sign of rain at the start of session 3. It is two minutes gone before we see the first man out on track and that is the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. All the drivers are out on soft tyres.
With five minutes remaining, Vettel is the only man still in the pits. Is it possible Toro Rosso don t think they can compete and are therefore conserving fuel and tyres?
Raikkonen goes quickest but he has a big slide in the mid-part of the lap. Hamilton runs of the track and goes through the gravel trap after Bridge. Kovalainen takes P1 by three-tenths. Alonso P3, Heidfeld P4, Massa P5, Webber P6.
Kubica aborts his lap and has yet to set a time. He gets back to the pits and we can see mechanics frantically looking at the car.
The wind is starting to gust quite strongly it is up to 8.6 m/s. Kubica looks like he is out of the session. Hamilton gets a warning over the radio not to overdrive the car. Raikkonen starts a flying lap as Vettel finally takes to the track. Raikkonen puts in a lap of 1:21.706 to go into P1.
Hamilton goes from P9 to P2 as Webber puts in a storming lap to go P1. Kovalainen is flying though and takes P1 by half a second.
The provisional grid for the 2008 Formula One Santander British Grand Prix is:
1 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 3 Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen Ferrari 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 5 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 6 Fernando Alonso Renault 7 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 8 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 11 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 12 Timo Glock Toyota 13 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 14 Jarno Trulli Toyota 15 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 16 Rubens Barrichello Honda 17 Jenson Button Honda 18 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 19 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari