Over the three practice sessions, the fastest drivers were Rubens Barrichello (1:50.179 in Practice 1), Sebastien Vettel (1:48.650 in Practice 2) and Lewis Hamilton (1:47.632 in final practice).
RB had a gearbox change earlier and will therefore get a 5 grid spot penalty. However, if Brawn score 14 more points than Red Bull they will be crowned 2009 constructors’ champions in their debut season.
Qualifying notes are after this cut…
Air temperature is 30°C, same as the track temperature (it is 10pm local time!); wind 2.2m/s; humidity 75%
Tyre compounds are the Bridgestone soft (prime) and super-soft (option).
Qualifying 1 (Q1):
First on track are JA, GF & AS
RG has already got it wrong – took to the escape road and has to do a 3-point turn
Pit-car radio from RG has him complaining that he has no brakes!
JA posts the first time – 1:50.169
5mins in to Q1; 15mins left in the session; everyone bar LH on track
SV 1:47.541 – that’s the first to beat the best Practice time
10mins gone = halfway through Q1
It’s LH, SV & HK at the top but the bottom 5 are JT, NH, JA, RG & VL
5mins left; bottom 5 are AS, JT, NH, JA, VL with the 2 Ferrari drivers on the bubble
2mins left; bottom 5 are still AS, JT, NH, JA, VL
(NH P3, relegating GF)
Chequered flag falls to end Q1
So the back of the grid will be: P16=AS, 17=JA, 18=GF, 19=RG, 20=VL
Qualifying 2 (Q2):
SV first out of the pits
5mins in to Q2 = 10mins left
Halfway through Q2 – still no lap time from NH or FA
5mins left; bottom 5 are RK, KR, JB, JT, SB
There’s only 2 seconds between P1 and P15
2mins left – final flying laps start now
KR doesn’t improve … JB only up to P11 – they’re both still in the relegation zone!
Chequered flag out; bottom 5 are RB, JB, KR, SB, JT
(RB P6 – relegating MW)
(MW P2 – pushing KN to P11)
Middle of the grid: P11=KN, 12=JB, 13=KR, 14=SB, 15=JT
It’s a good thing RB made it through to Q3 because he’s got that 5-spot penalty waiting for him
Qualifying 3 (Q3):
Battling over the top 10 grid spots are NR, MW, SV, LH, TG, FA, RB, RK, NH & HK
Remember that for Q3 they’ll be carrying their initial race fuel load
NR first on track, followed by RB, SV, MW & NH
5mins gone = halfway through Q3 already
NR pits for fresh rubber, as do the rest of the runners
3mins left; order is LH, SV, NR, MW, RB, FA, TG, NH, RK, HK
RB’s hit the wall and lost his front left wheel
Red flag out – that’s ruined the chances of anyone on a flying lap – with only about 30secs left on the clock (and the clock doesn’t stop) so that’s the end of Q3
Replay shows RB hit a bump and locked his front right wheel, hit the tyre wall and then the wall – that’s a lot of work for the Brawn mecahanics!
Front of the grid: P1=LH, 2=SV, 3=NR, 4=MW, 5=RB*, 6=FA, 7=TG, 8=NH, 9=RK, 10=HK
*RB will be P10 after his gearbox penalty
Provisional grid: LH, SV, NR, MW, FA, TG, NH, RK, HK, RB, KN, JB, KR, SB, JT, AS, JA, GF, RG, VL.