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Formula 1 News - October, 2008
Team-by-team summary: Saturday, China

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Lewis Hamilton has been the standout McLaren or Ferrari driver all weekend in China, and the championship leader duly dominated qualifying for this potentially decisive round. However, Heikki Kovalainen looks unlikely to play a role in the outcome from fifth on the grid. "It will be a very important day and all the team wants to make the best out of it," said Mercedes' Norbert Haug.



Felipe Massa's face told the story better than any words could; he was bitterly disappointed to qualify third, but at least his championship-assistant teammate Kimi Raikkonen shares the front of the grid with Hamilton. "A very tough qualifying, up against a very strong rival," said engineer Luca Baldisserri.



Despite an uncompetitive morning session, Fernando Alonso's P4 on the grid proves he is now an ever-present force in the upper part of the field. Nelson Piquet missed a spot in Q3 by 7 thousandths of a second.



Mark Webber's P6 looks strong, but he must move ten places down following his spectacular morning engine failure. "Let's hope for some rain tomorrow," said the Australian, amid forecasts of possible showers. David Coulthard, who failed to move out of the initial Q1 segment, was furious with BMW's Nick Heidfeld, who was penalised for holding up the Scot. "It was very un-sportsman like behaviour," he fumed.



Heidfeld, fastest of all in morning practice, moved through all qualifying segments and booked a solid 7th place on the grid, but he must move back three places after stewards deemed he blocked Coulthard at the end of Q1. Factoring in Webber's penalty, he will start the race P9. The German told reporters: "In the last sector, when I supposedly blocked him, he was faster than his previously fastest lap. So I don't understand," said Heidfeld. Robert Kubica's slim title chances took a hit, when after a weekend of struggling with car balance, he lines up just P11 on the grid.



Sebastian Vettel's weekend was not impressive until qualifying, when he moved past his teammate to qualify P8, becoming P7 after Webber's penalty. "It was impressive," veteran engineer Giorgio Ascanelli admitted. Sebastien Bourdais was the slowest qualifier in the decisive Q3 segment. "I had no option tyres left, but I am very happy with this result," said the Frenchman.



Jarno Trulli made the Q3 cut and will start the race from P8, while Timo Glock qualified thirteenth but also benefits from Webber's penalty. "It's been hard to get the setup right all weekend," said Glock.



Jenson Button in qualifying was faster only than the slow Force Indias, but Rubens Barrichello made it out of 'Q1' and was even quicker in Q2 than Williams' Nico Rosberg. "I don't think we would have been able to produce anything more than that," said a pleased Barrichello, who is fighting for his future in F1.



A very bad showing by the British team, with Kazuki Nakajima dropping out in Q1 and Rosberg the slowest of the fifteen Q2 competitors.



Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella were separated by just 9 thousandths of a second in Q1. Unfortunately, their deficit to the next best competitor was a less impressive 7 tenths. "Our race pace is always better when we get the tyres to run during the longer runs," said technical boss Mike Gascoyne.

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