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August 24, 2008

F1: European Grand Prix Qualifying

The Valencia street circuit which hosts the Formula 1 European Grand Prix this year looks spectacular with its smooth high speed turns and a bridge (!) as part of the track. Traffic should be less of an issue due to the circuit’s length. One concern I have is that the pit lane entrance might cause problems in the race since the entrance is right on the racing line.

Anyway, Q1 was eventful. Nelson Piquet hit a bird with his right front wheel. Feathers went everywhere for a brief moment. Jarno Trulli finished at the top of the timesheet with his Toyota and Sebatian Vettel was second – an outstanding performance in the Toro Rosso.

The drivers that didn’t make it to Q2 were the “F1 Veterans Club” consisting of David Coulthard, Giancarlo Fisichella, and Rubens Barrichello, as well as Jenson Button and Adrian Sutil.

Vettel finished Q2 in P1 and in fine form. There was some light rain. Nick Heidfeld was third, Sebastian Bourdais made it through to Q1. The Ferraris and McLarens were slightly off the pace but appeared to have plenty to make it to Q3.

Q3 was similarly a continuation of Q2. Vettel’s crew were not ready when he came in for his final tire stop, which caused a slight delay. He ended up taking sixth place on the grid, about 0.2 seconds behind pole sitter Felipe Massa. The top 5 are rounded out by Hamilton, Kubica, Raikkonen, and Kovalainen.

Michael Schumacher was on hand with the Ferrari team, and the Speed TV commentators speculated he was hands on with the drivers and team in his consultancy role. If this is true, could it be that he’s focused on Massa and that is one of the contributing factors to his performance the last few sessions?

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