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Hamilton on Pole in Valencia

August 22, 2009

Lewis Hamilton followed his first win of 2009 by taking pole in Valencia this afternoon, his first since China last year.

In a hot qualifying session, the reigning champion showed that McLaren’s comeback in Hungary a month ago, was not a one off, leading teammate Heikki Kovalainen home for a McLaren front row for the start of tomorrow’s race.

Hamilton set the pace early on in qualifying, only being beaten to P1 in both Q1 and Q2 by the Brawns of Button and Barrichello respectively, as he remained in the pits saving his tyres. Hamilton’s pace heated up even more in Q3, when as the only driver of ten on brand new soft tyres, set the pace 1.3seconds faster than Kimi Raikkonen on his first lap. Even with a well timed change of tyres, and crossing the line to start his last flying lap with 10 seconds left on the clock, Lewis didn’t need to complete another lap, no one could beat his previously set time anyway.

Rubens Barrichello starts third in the first of the Brawns, with teammate and championship leader Jenson Button in fifth. Sebastian Vettel starts fourth, with teammate Mark Webber in ninth. Kimi Raikkonen is the first Ferrari, in sixth, with Nico Rosberg seventh, Fernando Alonso eighth, and Robert Kubica rounding off the top ten.

Luca Badoer, who is standing in for the injured Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari, starts 20th and last, after a poor qualifying session, his first in a decade.

Rookie Romain Grosjean, who replaces Nelson Piquet at Renault, impressed in his first F1 qualifying session, momentarily getting his Renault up to fourth in Q1. It wasn’t to be in Q2 though, and the Frenchman starts the first race of his F1 career from 14th.

For Hamilton and McLaren, they have put their early races of the season behind them to start from the front row of the grid for the first time this season, and they’ll be hoping to make it two wins in a row tomorrow. Heikki Kovalainen, who was told by his team this week that he needs to perform to retain his seat for next year, certainly upped his game, narrowly missing out on pole on his final lap, in the final corner.

After three F1-free weekends, the fight is back on, and although McLaren pose no threat to Brawn and Button’s title hopes, they will be hoping for a good result, and that they can keep the Red Bulls behind them.

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