Lewis Hamilton records 22nd career pole position & McLaren's 150th in Barcelona

Source : SIFY
By : Ajit Devadason
Last Updated: Thu, Jul 12, 2012 09:36 hrs

The top three qualifiers brought back a vintage 90's look to the grid with McLaren heading home a Williams and Ferrari. Hamilton set the only sub 1m :22secs lap with a blistering 1m:21:707secs from surprise challenger Pastor Maldonado, who lapped at 1m:22:285secs from home hero Fernando Alonso on 1m:22:302secs.

With a track temperature of 41 degrees and an ambient climate of 28 degrees, the bright sunlight made for good viewing at Spain. However, teams were aware of the abrasive nature of this circuit and initially most opted for prime tyres.

Fresh from a successful test session at Mugello, Alonso posted a 1m:24:326 behind the Force India of Paul Di Resta. Sergio Perez went quicker still but Hamilton quickly established the pace. Just when it looked easy for the McLaren driver, Maldonado showed off the progress Williams had made in the test session too, with a faster lap time of 1m:23:380secs.

The track was rubbering in and times began to tumble as Vettel, Raikkonen and Webber all posted faster time in succession. But Lewis wanted it back and took it with a speedy 1m22:583 sec scorcher.

Karthikeyan barely completed a lap with electrical problems while Pedro da La Rosa could not do much for the home team either. They were followed by Kovalainen, Petrov, Glock and Pic into relegation. Senna spun out of the session and wasn't going to play a part in qualifying further.

Hamilton once again made his intentions clear in Q2 by setting a benchmark for the rest of the field with a 1m 22:465sec. He pulled into the McLaren garage and even got out of the car looking very calm and relaxed. Is this to be his race weekend then? His body language certainly points towards a race win tomorrow.

Kimi Raikkonen with a 1m:22:856sec and Romain Grosjean with a 1m22:667sec lap looked like the only threats to the McLaren world champion. Felipe Massa pitted his Ferrari with no intentions of going out again and Sergio Perez set a flyer whilst Alonso and Vettel came close on the time sheets. Seconds before the chequered flag was waved to signal the end of Q2, Pastor Maldonado flew past in 1m:22:105sec taking provisional pole.

Vergne, Hulkenberg, Di Resta, Ricciardo, Massa were relegated. Along with Jenson Button and Mark Webber! Button complained of imbalance and oversteer through out the sessions but his pace was competitive.

Although Kobayashi set a good lap that saw him leap into Q3, he stopped his Chelsea FCB-branded Sauber on track with a hydraulic leak. He was out of qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel headed out of the pits as soon as the pit lane light turned green and set a curious pace on his installation lap. It looked as if he was trying to maintain a constant pace for the engineers to study an aero performance aspect of the RB8 through the turn sequences in Barcelona.

He pitted without setting a time and did not later take part in the fight for pole. Nor did Michael Schumacher, who opted to conserve a set of tyres for the race. This left the final shoot out with just eight cars.

At first it seemed Kimi would take pole for Lotus from Grosjean. Then it looked like Fernando Alonso would strike it rich at home. This hope disappeared quickly when Maldonado began to lap the Williams quicker than anyone else! It looked like history would be made with the GP2 protege.

But with Vettel, Rosberg, Schumacher and Maldonado using up all their three soft tyre sets, only Hamilton had one set remaining.

Pole was inevitable. He claimed it rightfully with a blistering final lap after posting a 1m22:560sec blinder early on in Q3. McLaren have a new nose section this weekend. It's a new aero update with a stepped down nose and angular trailing edges that work to keep the wind flow on the rear wing even through turns.

Most importantly though, like Alonso mentioned in the post qualifying conference, was that a fraction of a second gained this year in performance could result in two to three grid positions. Will that fraction gained at Mugello see a new winner again tomorrow to make it five out of five this year? We can only wait and see.

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