An incident-filled Shanghai qualifying session saw Renault emerge at the top, locking out the front row. Barrichello, Webber and Raikkonen all spun as rain started to fall in the opening stages of the first session. Monteiro’s Spyker caused a red-flag as it stopped out on track with a technical problem.
To the suprise of all, the second session took Massa’s scalp as the Brazilian failed to set a top ten time – further exacerbating the Ferrari driver’s situation following his ten-position engine penalty.
The final session was also not without its own drama as Raikkonen’s mirror came off, causing Button to drive over it. No serious damage was caused to either car though and Button went on to set an impressive time as the Hondas claimed the second row of the grid as their own. The McLarens were split by Michael Schumacher, who could only manage sixth fastest – a possible indication that his Shanghai form (and luck) over the last two seasons will be repeated this weekend. Robert Doornbos, meanwhile, made an impressive debut for Red Bull, qualifying in tenth position – two positions ahead of his veteran team-mate and recognised good wet-weather driver David Coulthard.
Both the Williams’ and Toyotas striuggled for pace in the changing conditions.
01 F. Alonso Renault 1:44.360
02 G. Fisichella Renault 1:44.992
03 R. Barrichello Honda 1:45.503
04 J. Button Honda 1:45.503
05 K. Räikkönen McLaren 1:45.754
06 M. Schumacher Ferrari 1:45.775
07 P. de la Rosa McLaren 1:45.877
08 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:46.053
09 R. Kubica BMW 1:46.632
10 R. Doornbos Red Bull 1:48.021
11 S. Speed Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:45.851
12 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:45.968
13 F. Massa Ferrari 1:45.970
14 V. Liuzzi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:46.172
15 M. Webber Williams 1:46.413
16 N. Rosberg Williams 1:47.419
17 R. Schumacher Toyota 1:48.894
18 J. Trulli Toyota 1:49.098
19 C. Albers Spyker MF1 1:49.542
20 T. Monteiro Spyker MF1 1:49.903
21 T. Sato Super Aguri 1:50.326
22 S. Yamamoto Super Aguri 1:55.560
Not that Massa will start last due to his engine penalty.
Edu de Jager