They actually qualified in 13th and 14th fastest respectively but because of Sebastian Vettel’s 10 place grid penalty due to the incident at the Australian Grand prix, Hamilton went up to 12th on the grid for tomorrow while teammate Kovalainen stays in 14th.
Neither are great starting places but they are not so unexpected either, and both are certainly better than Hamilton’s 18th place start in Melbourne last week.
Both drivers looked like getting in some good early laps but the sheer pace of cars like the ones from Red Bull, BrawnGP and Toyota just blew them away.
In a crucial mistake by Ferrari, Felipe Massa, thinking he’d done enough, returned to the pits and ended up the 16th fastest and therefore never got out of the first round of qualifying. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen starts from 8th place on the grid. Jenson Button once again takes pole position and the full grid for tomorrow looks like this:
1. Jenson Button (Britain) Brawn – Mercedes
2. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Toyota
3. Timo Glock (Germany) Toyota
4. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Williams – Toyota
5. Mark Webber (Australia) RedBull – Renault
6. Robert Kubica (Poland) BMW Sauber
7. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari
8. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Renault
9. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Brawn – Mercedes
10. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber
11. Kazuki Nakajima (Japan) Williams – Toyota
12. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren – Mercedes
13. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull – Renault
14. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) McLaren – Mercedes
15. Sebastien Bourdais (France) Toro Rosso – Ferrari
16. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari
17. Nelson Piquet (Brazil) Renault
18. Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy) Force India – Mercedes
19. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India – Mercedes
20. Sebastien Buemi (Switzerland) Toro Rosso – Ferrari
I still have high hopes for both McLaren drivers, and in particular Hamilton who always seems to rise to the occasion, especially in the face of adversity. Kovalainen is the epitome of untapped potential and once he finds what he needs to release the driver from within, then everyone, including his teammate, will have to watch out.