Maldonado secures brilliant pole for Williams

Wow wow wow. What a day. I’m sure you already know the news. Lewis Hamilton was fastest in qualifying, but has been stripped of his pole position and in fact been excluded from qualifying. McLaren failed to fuel Lewis Hamilton’s car enough for the third part of qualifying, despite having enough time to do so (he crossed the line 20s before the chequered flag). The car was forced to stop right after his flying lap, and though he apparently had enough fuel for a sample, there was not enough to get him to the pits. It seems rather a harsh reaction from the stewards: why an exclusion rather than a grid penalty? And why from the whole of qualifying and not just Q3?
The stewards have decided, however, and tomorrow Hamilton will start from 24th position, behind Narain Karthikeyan – who was allowed to drive despite being outside the 107% rule. In pole position is Pastor Maldonado, as once again Williams manage something rather special. Their last pole, of course, was in unusual weather conditions at Brazil in 2010. Today, however, Williams gained pole by pure ability.
It will be hard for Maldonado to lose his ‘pay driver’ label, but surely he ought to after today? Today, I think he’s actually a great driver. He could win tomorrow. Alonso in P2, however, has the support of the crowd behind him. Could we see our first double winner of the season? Anything could happen.

Looking further down the grid (from Maldonado anyway), both Lotuses will be on row 2. They could also easily challenge for the win. Perez starts fifth, Rosberg sixth, Vettel seventh and Schumacher eighth. It is notoriously difficult to overtake at the Circuit de Catalunya, but with DRS it could happen.
Neither Button (P10) nor Webber (P11) made it into Q3, while Massa will only start 16th. Senna had a disappointing Q3 and spun on his flying lap. Both Brazilians have really been shown up by their teammates today. Petrov outqualified Kovalainen, who is seeking only his second-ever finish at the track (he finished 7th in 2007, but has since had three DNF and one DNS).

Next post: GP2 and GP3!


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