Hamilton edges Massa to pole position in Hockenheim

Lewis Hamilton Germany 2008

Lewis Hamilton continued his impressive form by outdueling championship rival Felipe Massa in a tense fight in Q3 at Hockenheim. The British Grand Prix winner set an impressive pace around the 2.841-mile race track with a time of one minute, 15.666 seconds. This was Hamilton’s ninth career pole position in Formula One.

Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen will line up in third after a mistake on his first flying lap. The Finn went off on his approach to the stadium section during his timed run but he did well to recover, unlike fellow countryman Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari.

The world champion seems to be having great difficulty in his F2008. From turn-in understeer to oversteer on the exit of corners, Kimi just lacked the confidence and speed compared to team-mate Massa. To qualify in only sixth place was a major disappointment for the ‘Iceman’ but the team remain optimistic that Kimi will be a big factor in the race despite a poor start to his German Grand Prix weekend.

Toyota’s Jarno Trulli achieved another excellent qualifying run with fourth. The Italian hope his high grid position will result in a podium finish just like he did at Magny-Cours last month. This can be achievable providing Jarno doesn’t get left behind by the faster McLarens and Ferraris on race day.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso will start in fifth for Renault. The Spaniard was quite surprised to be in the top six after admitting the team might struggle in making through to Q2. This was proven by team-mate Nelson Piquet, who will start in lowly seventeenth position. Even though Alonso is happy to be in the top half of the grid, I reckon he will have great difficulty in keeping up with the faster cars in the 67 laps race.

Canadian Grand Prix winner and championship contender Robert Kubica could only manage to qualify his BMW Sauber in seventh. It wasn’t the best result for the Polish driver, who suffered a drive-shaft failure leading up to qualifying. At least, he did a better job than team-mate Nick Heidfeld. The German made a costly error during his timed run in Q2 and will start his home race down in twelfth position.

The present and future Red Bull trio of Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Toro Rosso) and David Coulthard completed the top ten.

Rain is expected in Sunday’s German Grand Prix and we all know what kind of action and drama that will bring when the track is wet! Lewis Hamilton will have the clear advantage with his front row slot but can Felipe Massa challenge him for the race victory? Let’s find out on race day.

Qualifying times from Hockenheim:

1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.666
2. Massa Ferrari 1:15.859
3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.143
4. Trulli Toyota 1:16.191
5. Alonso Renault 1:16.385
6. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:16.389
7. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:16.521
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:17.014
9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:17.244
10. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:17.503
11. Glock Toyota 1:15.508
12. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:15.581
13. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:15.633
14. Button Honda 1:15.701
15. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:15.858
16. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:16.083
17. Piquet Renault 1:16.189
18. Barrichello Honda 1:16.246
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:16.657
20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:16.963