McLaren

Lewis Hamilton Wins Fight For First at Fuji

Adam PooleAnalyst IOctober 10, 2008

Overview of Fuji

After they hype of Singapore, we come to an "old faithful" circuit.  Set in the shadows of Mount Fuji, Japan, the Fuji speedway has been home to some classic races since it was first commissioned.

Last year saw a very wet and very eventful race, with only half the cars that started finishing the race.  Toyota own this track and, have done nothing but impress so far this weekend with some strong times in free-practice and some fantastic laps in today's qualifying sessions.  Let's have a look now, and what happened this morning.

Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton pulled out all the stops when it mattered most this morning, when he put his MP4-23 car over the line two-tenths of a second faster than Kimi Kaikkonen's Ferrari.

David Coulthard had an impressive session one, taking his Red-Bull car over in 8th with a fantastic lap, driven to perfection. DC being the first driver to try the softer tyre - and it pay's off.  The track continued to dry-out through-out the session, with times improving all the time. 

However, it was Timo Glock in the Toyota that managed to surpass all our expectations, and suprise everyone by finishing Q1 ahead of most of the usual front runners of Ferrari and McLaren. 

Both Honda's drop out along with Heidfeld, Sutil and Fisichela.  Consistent Pole, Robert Kubica seems to be struggling this weekend, only just making Q2 in 14th.  Lewis Hamilton finishes Q1 as the fastest man on the track.

Q2 is when things heated up, as always, being the quickest session of Qualifying.  Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is the first man out and despite DC's speed on the softer tyre, Kimi chooses to stay with the harder choice. 

Raikkonen pulls it out and sets a great benchmark for Q2—significantly quicker than he was in Q1.  Team-mate Massa, now on the soft tyre, goes half a second quicker still and sets the bar high for the McLaren team. 

Lewis Hamilton, ever the competitor, does a great lap and secures second place and his team-mate Koveleinen backs up the speed of the McLaren by going third.  After an impressive first session, Red Bull both see the drop zone and don't make Q3, we also say goodbye to Nico Rosberg and Nakajima.  Torro Rosso see both of their cars into the pole-position shoot out.

In a unusually slow start to Q3, Timo Glock is the first man out, followed by a stream of cars almost two-minutes into the session.  Current World Champion Kimi Raikkonen is flying in this session, he has found some power from somewhere setting a stunning 1m18.664—a true benchmark at a time when the cars are also carrying race fuel for their first stretch tomorrow. 

Massa goes P2 with a 1m.18.874 and when Lewis Hamilton fails to pip Kimi, it looks as though McLaren could be in for some trouble tomorrow. 

However, as the chequered flag comes out, meaning the cars on-track can finish their current lap and no more, Lewis Hamilton does what he does best and throws his McLaren around the corners at Fuji to secure pole position for tomorrows Japanese Grand-Prix and the Fuji Speedway.  Kovelienen causes another problem for Ferrari as he pushes Massa down to P4 and secures P3. 

Fernando Alonso kicks yet more dirt in the Italian's faces as he makes it an even bigger gap between Hamilton and Massa as he goes fourth, causing Massa to start tomorrow's race from the third row of the grid, in fifth. 

A final footnote, Fernando Alonso could face a 10-000Euro fine from the FIA after darting into the pit lane and then deciding not to go through with the move and pulling over the solid white line on the pit entrance.  Further news on this as it develops.

Final Starting Positions for tomorrows Japanese Grand-Prix are as follows:

Pos. Driver Team
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
3 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
4 Fernando Alonso Renault
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari
6 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota
8 Timo Glock Toyota
9 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari
10 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari
11 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault
12 Nelsinho Piquet Renault
13 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
14 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota
15 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
16 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber
17 Rubens Barrichello Honda
18 Jenson Button Honda
19 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari
20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari

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