Carrying the momentum from his dazzling victory in the wet at Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton saw off a resurgent Felipe Massa in qualifying at Hockenheim to seal his second pole position of the season, while key championship rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica floundered.
The British youngster has been revelling at the Hockenheimring all weekend and Q3 was no exception has he hustled his way through the twisty stadium section quicker than any other driver to eclipse Ferrari’s Felipe Massa from the top spot.
Ominously for his rivals the McLaren ace made it clear that there was more to spare: “My final lap, I was quite happy with it to be honest; it went very smoothly,” he said. “It was pretty easy going I was quite comfortable we could have gone a little bit quicker if we had needed to.”
Felipe Massa seems to have recovered from his disastrous showing in the wet at Silverstone and posed a threat to Hamilton throughout all three qualifying knock-out sessions. The Brazilian did well to prevent McLaren locking out the front row – though a mistake from Heikki Kovalainen on the final corner also helped to this end.
There is no doubt that McLaren retain the edge around the demanding 4.574km circuit particularly in the third sector where the most time can be won. Hamilton demonstrated as much in Q1 where despite running wide at the hairpin and losing a good half a second, he still managed to claw his way to the top spot with a stunning assault on the stadium section.
Felipe Massa does not believe the gap is as big as it appears however: “I think it is pretty competitive between Ferrari and McLaren and the race tomorrow will be very competitive between all three cars,” said the Brazilian, “so that is very exciting. We need to do everything right tomorrow in the race,” he added pointing to the mistakes that Ferrari have made in recent races.
The big concern for Ferrari was the pace of Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn struggled with the handling of his F2008 throughout the knock-out sessions and was eventually eclipsed by Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso – both of whom appear to running aggressive strategies.
“He [Kimi] was not very happy about the car, and of course we have seen that the lap was not really good, but anyway it’s important that we stay concentrated, the race is very long, I’m very happy for Felipe because he did a great, great qualifying,” Ferrari’s Team Principal told German Broadcaster Premiere.
“I’m expecting that it will be very tough. I mean we will see the fuel load of Hamilton, he did a great lap, so let’s wait and see.”
BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica was seventh fastest and will be hard-pressed to keep in touch with the title contenders in tomorrow’s race. The Pole lines up ahead of the Mark Webber and David Coulthard, with the on-song Sebastian Vettel pulling out an impressive lap to split the Red Bull Pairing in his Toro Rosso.