Kimi Raikkonen Pips Fernando Alonso for Pole in Spain

Martin MaleAnalyst IApril 26, 2008

Kimi Raikkonen was the fastest driver through two of the three practice sessions leading up to today's qualifying session. He used that experience to take the pole position for Sunday's Formula 1 Gran Premio de Espana Telefonica 2008 at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain.

The day did not start good for Raikkonen as the best he could manage in the morning practice was 13th. This after topping the timing charts during both practices on Friday. Things didn't seem to be quite right again for the qualifying round although he was the fastest car by far in Q1 and 3rd fastest in Q2. The car seemed to have some serious under steer and it was only the quality of the driver that put the car that high on the chart.

With time expired on the clock, hometown favorite Fernando Alonso appeared to have created a miracle as he went P1. Alonso had not had his troublesome Renault near the top in qualifying yet this year so his topping the timing charts was a fantastic feat. His spell at the top was short-lived however as Raikkonen pipped his time by 0.091 to grab the coveted pole. In 18 races at this track, the pole sitter has won 14 times.

Raikkonen's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa had a struggle at times this weekend. After going P2 in the first practice session, he took a backwards slide down the charts in the next two sessions going P5 and P9. During Q1 he continued the slide as his time was only 12th quickest. The team made some adjustments before Q2 and that seemed to be the right thing as he led the charts during the second qualifying session and then was only beaten by his teammate and Alonso in the final session. This leaves Massa starting right behind Raikkonen and if recent races mean anything it could again be Ferraris one and two into the first corner.

The sophomore problems continued for both McLaren teammates Hamilton and Kovalainen. After a good start to the season, the two McLaren drivers again had problems this weekend. After a decent first practice session where Hamilton was third and Kovalainen was fifth, neither car was able to crack the top ten in the second and third practice session. Although both cars showed better in qualifying, the best they could do was a fifth place start for Hamilton and sixth for Kovalainen.

BMW Sauber, who leads the constructor's championship, had their drivers both qualify in the top ten with Kubica going P4 and Heidfeld P9. Jarno Trulli again made the top ten for the fourth straight race although his eighth place is his worst qualifying position of the season. Mark Webber, with his second time in the top 10, this time seventh and Nelsinho Piquet with his first top ten (10th) qualifying position round out the top 10.

It will be interesting to see the starts tomorrow as several drivers have had problems as they adjust to life without launch control. Lewis Hamilton was the most notable driver with a problem in the respect last race. It will also be interesting to see if the Renault of Alonso was shorted on fuel in hopes of getting him the pole in his home race. The Renaults have not been that quick all season so either he is short filled or the team made some great improvements to the car in the last three weeks.