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European Grand Prix - Qualifying 
23rd-Aug-2008 08:17 am
The weather forecast for Valencia is still unsettled - predominantly heavy rain today and light showers tomorrow, which should make things even more exciting, as if a new street circuit complete with a (controversial*) bridge isn't enough!

The issue with the bridge is that, like most bridges, it's not a solid structure - there are small gaps to allow it to expand (because of the weather) and there's concern that this could damage the tyres. (As the Speed TV commentators pointed out yesterday, it's a stone bridge and Bridgestone are saying this is their 200th race ... except statisticians are saying it's #202!)

Anyway, in practice yesterday the fastest drivers were Vettel, Massa and Hamilton in the first session, and Raikkonen, Alonso and Button(!) in the second session. Today's practice also has some unexpected names at the top of the timing charts: Kubica, Rosberg and Bourdais, with Nakajima fourth!

Current conditions: air 26°C, track 30°C, wind 2.6m/s, humidity 62%, currently dry but there's still the threat of rain.

Tyre choices for this weekend are the soft (prime) and super-soft (option) compounds.

Unfortunately only Speed is showing qualifying, which means (a) TSN sucks, and (b) I'm going to spend most of the time shouting at the stupid commentators. :(

Qualifying session 1 (Q1):
NP is first on track, followed by JT and GF
3mins in to the session and half the cars are already out there - everyone needs track time on this new circuit
NP 1:40.044
JT 1:39.792
TG 1:39.178
RK 1:38.935
Did NP hit a bird? (Replay: yes, it looks like it hit the front-right wheel)
5mins in to the session; everyone except HK, FA & JB are on track ... and HK heads out
LH 1:38.464 - his sector times are 26.0, 44.8 and 27.5
(SB P2)
10mins gone = 10mins left; top of the table are LH, SB, SV, RK, TG, FM, DC; still yet to set a time: FA & JB
(FA P2)
(NR P2)
(TG P2)
5mins left; order: LH, TG, NR, FA, SB, HK, SV, JB
RB seems to be stuck at the bottom of the table even after 6 laps
Looks like spots of rain of the camera
3mins left; bottom 5 are NP, NH, GF, AS, RB
FM 1:38.176
90secs left; bottom 5 unchanged
Chequered flag falls on Q1
(FA P2)
Lots of activity at the bottom of the timing table
RB still can't improve on P20 :(
NP to P9
SV 1:38.141 !
JT 1:37.948 - wow!
That's it - everyone's finished their flying laps
Bottom 5 are: P16=JB, 17=DC, 18=GF, 19=RB, 20=AS

Umbrellas going up - it's starting to rain at least on some parts of the circuit

Replay shows Glock ahead of Heidfeld, which (maybe) caused NH to slide through corner - will TG be penalised for blocking?

Qualifying session 2 (Q2):
KR first on track - put in a banker in case the rain really comes down
FM and RK head out too
KR 1:38.276
(FM P2)
RK 1:38.050
SV 1:37.842 - fastest time of the whole weekend so far
10mins left; everyone except KR on track (and he's P3 so he's safe)
(LH P2)
(JT P2)
OK, so now KR is down to P6, maybe I take back what I said about him being safe
Track quiet as everyone pits for a tyre change for the final push
5mins left; top 5 are SV, JT, LH, RK, HK; bottom 5 are: FA, TG, NH, NP, MW
3mins left; everyone heads back on track
FM on a flyer - goes to P2
1min left; bottom 5 are still FA, TG, NH, NP, MW
Chequered flag, but as always people are still on flying laps
TG can't improve on P12
MW only up to P13
NH P3, relegating KN to the drop zone - talk about leaving it to the last moment! :)
Bottom 5 are: P11=KN, 12=FA, 13=TG, 14=MW, 15=NP

Qualifying session 3 (Q3):
Battling for the top 10 grid spots are: SV, FM, NH, JT, LH, RK, HK, KR, NR and SB
JT first out followed by SB and KR, then the rest of the drivers
Argh! FIA timing chart has frozen
JT 1:40.309
SV 1:40.142
LH 1:40.040
KR 1:39.829
FM 1:39.371
5mins left
(RK P3)
Time to pit for fresh rubber
3mins left; order is FM, KR, RK, LH, SV, HK, JT, NH, NR, SB
One flying lap left, and there's no concensus on which tyre compound is quicker
Chequered flag
LH 1:39.199
(RK P2)
FM 1:38.989
(HK P5)
...and we're done

Provisional grid: FM, LH, RK, KR, HK, SV, JT, NH, NR, SB; KN, FA, TG, MW, NP; JB, DC, GF, RB, AS
Will TG be penalised for the NH incident in Q1?
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