European Grand Prix – Qualifying Report

Kimi Raikkonen continued his return to form by putting his Ferrari on pole for tomorrow s European Grand Prix in Germany. The Finn secured his second pole of the season after the final session resumed following a serious accident involving McLaren s Lewis Hamilton.

With six minutes of the final session remaining, Hamilton set the fastest time through sector one on a lap his car was never going to finish. Looking to replicate his qualifying performance at the British Grand Prix, the Brit blasted into the second sector unaware that his car s right front wheel was loose due to a problem with one of the airguns at McLaren. As the Championship Leader exited the Dunlop hairpin, his right front wheel appeared to bobble, but unable to see this from the cockpit Hamilton flew into the first part of the newly named Schumacher ‘S where the right front wheel disintegrated and launched the twenty-two year across the gravel and into a tyre barrier at well over 100mph.

Immediately following the accident, the session was red flagged and Lewis could be seen moving his legs up and down within the cockpit as if to check himself for injury. Almost a full minute later, track marshals attended the scene and helped the driver from the car, but Hamilton appeared hesitant to walk away from the accident. Instead, the medical helicopter was put on standby and he was placed on a back board before being ferried to the medical centre in an ambulance. Amazingly, early indications suggest that the sensation of 2007 will be fit enough to drive for tomorrow s race, despite the severity of the accident and an accident completely beyond his own control.

Thirty minutes later the session resumed. With five minutes and thirteen seconds remaining drivers fought for track position. Massa was the first to set a competitive time, crossing the line with a 1:31.778. Seconds later team-mate Raikkonen went 0.3 seconds faster. However, all looked lost for the Ferraris, as McLaren s second driver, Fernando Alonso, set the fastest first sector time only to make a mistake through sector two. The Spaniard eventually crossed the line 0.037 seconds ahead of the second Ferrari.

Hamilton fell to tenth overall, and will start from the pit lane tomorrow if his team are unable to repair his race car. Nick Heidfeld secured fourth in front of his home crowd, his team-mate Kubica, rounding out the top-five.

Mark Webber achieved his best qualifying of the season so far, beating Heikki Kovalainen s improved Renault into sixth position. Webber s team-mate, David Coulthard, will start from twentieth after being held up by his team-mate on both runs, only for his team to release him early enough to complete his third during the first session of qualifying. Despite a spin at the end of the second qualifying session, Jarno Trulli brought his car home in eighth ahead of Ralf Schumacher.

Winkelhock will start from the back of the grid on his debut for Spyker.

European Grand Prix Provisional Qualifying Standings:

1. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:31.450
2. Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:31.741
3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:31.778
4. Nick Heidfeld, BMW, 1:31.840
5. Robert Kubica, BMW, 1:32.123
6. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, 1:32.476
7. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault, 1:32.478
8. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:32.501
9. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota, 1:32.570
10. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:33.833

Drivers out after Q2:

11. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota, 1:31.978
12. Alexander Wurz, Williams-Toyota, 1:31.996
13. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, 1:32.010
14. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:32.221
15. Anthony Davidson, Super Aguri-Honda, 1:32.451
16. Takuma Sato, Super Aguri-Honda, 1:32.838

Drivers out after Q1:

17. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:32.983
18. Scott Speed, STR-Ferrari, 1:33.038
19. Vitantonio Liuzzi, STR-Ferrari, 1:33.148
20. David Coulthard, Red Bull-Renault, 1:33.151
21. Adrian Sutil, Spyker-Ferrari, 1:34.500
22. 21 Markus Winkelhock, Spyker-Ferrari, 1:35.940