Hamilton looks the part on pole

World champion shrugs off spares fiasco to qualify fastest as Button shows signs of a revival.

British renaissance was the theme round the Juan Carlos Marina here as downtown Valencia broiled in 31C and Bridgestone's tyres smeared themselves into a track warmed to 46C.

Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position of the season as McLaren continued their upward swing from Hungary, and while Jenson Button might have been disappointed that fifth place left him two positions behind team-mate Rubens Barrichello, that too was a sign that Brawn are finding their way again.

The factories might have been closed for two weeks during the recent summer break, but the last week had seen all of the teams making frantic efforts to catch up again. That very nearly undid McLaren as they debuted an MP4-24 with a shorter wheelbase and then had to sit out a large part of Friday afternoon's practice when Hamilton damaged his after spinning into a wall and there were no spares to effect immediate repairs.

"Every little bit of time on the track makes a huge difference in tuning the car," Hamilton said. "In terms of dialling in the handling, I had a lot of pressure on me this morning, but we did a good job and I was comfortable with it. In qualifying it was nice to be able to do single laps and then get the times in. We haven't fully sorted the loose rear end that caused the problem yesterday, but my pole lap was OK, quite good."

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh took that one on the chin. "We have got parts that are literally in transit here. I don't feel embarrassed about it, I feel frustrated. I am sure tomorrow the circuit will have evolved a little bit more and I think we can be competitive. But it is not nice having to sit there for nearly an hour and a half not being able to run the cars."

Nobody was embarrassed or frustrated yesterday, however, when McLaren sewed up the front row of the grid for the first time since 2007.

"It's a fantastic achievement," Hamilton continued. "We have very, very good pace and it was very tight between Heikki [Kovalainen] and me. We haven't had a one-two in qualifying for a long time, and it feels great.

"There were times in 2007 when I only had to do one run, but this year has usually been a matter of all guns blazing. I did a couple of very good laps, and for sure we start in the very best position for a podium, but it all depends on strategy and how the start goes.

"It's a really great result for us and the team well deserves it." A small mistake by Kovalainen in the final sector cost him his shot at pole, but the upturn in his performance was timely after McLaren had told him he needs to up his game to fend off Nico Rosberg's challenge for his seat.

The driver market won't ramp up fully until Ferrari confirm that Fernando Alonso will race for them in 2010, and that isn't expected until Monza in September. But besides Kovalainen and Rosberg, Robert Kubica is on the market following BMW's withdrawal. There is still a question mark over Felipe Massa's future, Kimi Raikkonen is expected to be paid off by Ferrari so he can go rallying, and Giancarlo Fisichella is angling for the Ferrari test seat. Only Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have been confirmed for 2010 at Red Bull.

And Button has yet to pen a new contract with Brawn, doubtless waiting for a new title sponsor to be confirmed and to see whether the world champion's crown can help him to claw back some of the pay cut he took at the beginning of the year.

He was philosophical to be fifth fastest when Barrichello was up with the McLarens. "I struggled with the car on low fuel, but when we put fuel on board the balance was much better," he said. "I went wide in Turn Four, which screwed me in Turn Five and I lost a couple of 10ths but, still it would only have been P4. In a way it's better to be P5 on the clean side here. Vettel is just in front but hopefully not for long. Obviously the McLarens were very quick this session and impossible to catch, so it's not too bad."

And Luca Badoer, standing in for the indisposed Felipe Massa and Michael "The Neck" Schumacher at Ferrari? He may have confused the pit lane and the race track after his 10-year layoff, as he was penalised four times on Friday for speeding in the pit lane. On the track there was no danger of that happening.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory