Alonso takes surprise pole after horror crash for Massa

2009 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa’s horrific crash caused a substantial delay to qualifying at the Hungaroring – after which Fernando Alonso claimed his first pole position in almost two years.

The result was even more of a surprise as the final moments of qualifying were disrupted by a total failure of the timing systems, meaning even the drivers themsevles were unaware who had qualified where.


After a fairly cool final practice session the temperature rose ahead of qualifying, making the track more Brawn-friendly with every extra degree. As the first cars rolled onto the circuit the surface temperate had reached 41C.

The Toro Rossos were among the first cars out including rookie Jaime Alguersuari in his first F1 appearance. His team mate Sebastien Buemi’s early effort of 1’21.813 provided the first mark to beat, the STR4s benefiting from the revised front wing and diffuser first used by the Red Bulls at Silverstone.

The field had been exceptionally closely-bunched in practice – just over a second covering 19 cars on Friday afternoon – a pattern which continued in qualifying. That meant no driver could afford to stay in the pits after their final run. All 20 cars piled onto the circuit at the end.

Disappointingly, newcomer Alguersuari ground to a halt towards the end of the session, consigning him to a starting from the back of the grid. That briefly brought out the yellow flags which gave several drivers a scare as it briefly meant they couldn’t post improved times.

They included Timo Glock, who was 18th before his final run, which pulled him up to eighth. Team mate Jarno Trulli and the Renaults also escaped the drop zone in the dying stages.

Both BMWs were eliminated – Nick Heidfeld’s second in final practice proving a false dawn. So were both Force Indias, Adrian Sutil only making it onto the trck briefly after his crash in practice.

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Drivers eliminated in Q1

16. Nick Heidfeld, BMW – 1’21.738
17. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India-Mercedes – 1’21.807
18. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes – 1’21.868
19. Robert Kubica, BMW – 1’21.901
20. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’22.369


The Red Bull duo made the early running in Q2, but Nico Rosberg pegged them back with a 1’20.895. But Fernando Alonso sprang a surprise by edging Rosberg by a hundredth of a second, then eking out another 0.05s on his second effort.

With five minutes remaining Alonso’s team mate Nelson Piquet Jnr – who did not have the latest specification front wing as Alonso did – found himself in the bottom five along with the Toyotas, Buemi and Kimi Raikkonen.

Alonso was the only driver who chose not to do a final extra run – everyone else took to the track. Rubens Barrichello, striving to make the cut in his Brawn, was left unable to progress to Q3 after part of his suspension broke.

That failure had terrible implications for his countryman Felipe Massa. As the Ferrari driver arrived on the scene part of Barrichello’s suspension struck his crash helmet, and and Massa crashed hard into the barriers at turn four.

Massa’s injury was gory, but could have been horrific. The spring tore a gash in the side of his crash helmet, pulling the visor off the left side, leaving him with a bloodied face.

The session was delayed for 20 minutes while the Ferrari driver was taken to the circuit’s medical centre before being transferred to hospital via helicopter.

Felipe Massa crashes after being struck by debris during qualifying (Video)

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Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’21.002
12. Jarno Trulli, Toyota – 1’21.082
13. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’21.222
14. Timo Glock, Toyota – 1’21.242
15. Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault – 1’21.389


After a lengthy delay the session got going once again, albeit without Massa and, to begin with, Button’s Brawn. The team inspected his rear suspension to guard against a repeat.

Events took another bizarre turn as the session reached its climax – suddenly all the timing screens went blank, leaving everyone unclear which driver had set the quickest time.

Mark Webber had been fastest before the clocks vanished – and as the drivers arrived in parc ferme they wore quizzical expressions and asked each other what times they had done to try to work out who was on pole position.

Eventually it was announced that Fernando Alonso had done the best time, narrowly beating Sebastian Vettel. It seemed oddly appropriate that an session which had all the joy sucked out of it by Massa’s fearful crash should end in such an anticlimactic fashion.

There are as yet no doubts being raised about the accuracy of the times, so it looks as though, unlike two years ago, Alonso will keep his pole position.

Webber took third ahead of Hamilton, with Button languishing in eighth, setting up an intriguing race tomorrow. We’ll get a clearer picture of who is genuinely competitive once the fuel weights are published later this afternoon.

Top ten drivers in Q3

1. Fernando Alonso, Renault – 1’21.569
2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault – 1’21.607
3. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault – 1’21.741
4. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’21.839
5. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota – 1’21.890
6. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’22.095
7. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1’22.468
8. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’22.511
9. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota – 1’22.835
10. Felipe Massa, Ferrari – no time

Hungarian Grand Prix grid

Hungarian Grand Prix fuel loads: Alonso very light and Button heavy with fuel

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “Alonso takes surprise pole after horror crash for Massa”

  1. chaostheory
    25th July 2009, 16:27

    It was weird qualifying. I’m happy for Alonso, good to see him where he belongs.
    BMW became Honda; guess nature dont like void :P
    Wonder if Massa will race tomorrow?

  2. Bartholomew
    25th July 2009, 17:08

    Terminator is back

    1. Good to see this terminator. I hope he is not much lighter and should win the race.

  3. This doesn’t look good. He will miss 2 races definitely, I think.

    Felipe Massa will need to undergo surgery after it emerged he has suffered bone damage of his skull and a brain concussion in his accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    The Brazilian will be forced to miss the race after he was hit in the head by debris believed to belong to Rubens Barrichello’s car.

    Massa was airlifted to a Budapest hospital, where he remains in stable condition.

    Ferrari said in a statement that Massa will need to undergo surgery and will have to stay under observation in intensive care for an undisclosed period of time.

    “After the accident during the qualifying session of the Grand Prix of Hungary, Felipe Massa was airlifted to the AEK hospital in Budapest,” the statement said. “Felipe was conscious at the arrival at the hospital and his general conditions remain stable.

    “Following a complete medical examination it emerged that he had suffered a cut on his forehead, a bone damage of his skull and a brain concussion. These conditions need to be operated on after which he will remain under observation in intensive care.”

    The team said further information will be released later tonight.

  4. Is it just me or are they publishing the weights later and later?

  5. Alonso looked quick today, but I think he’s light, the Renault could have improved that much.

    He’s been realistic in the press conference, I think they’re aiming for a podium…if they’re lucky..a win.

    Lewis has a great chance tomorrow, with KERS he very well might in P1 going into turn 1 and he would be hard to pass, the Mclarens will be strong tomorrow

  6. Just saw the car weights Alonso is the lightest of the top 10 while Button is running the heaviest.

    Alonso is predicted to be in at Lap 13, Vettel Lap 21, Webber Lap 20 and Hamilton Lap 19 while Button down in 8th place is estimated to have enough fuel to go to Lap 25.

    Running on a heavy car doesn’t seem like a wise choice for Budapest. But providing there isnt a repeat of Germany I think Hamilton will take this one.

    1. He was supposed to burn off some of that fuel but ended up doing very limited laps.

  7. Crazy qualy, at the end everyone jumping out there cars asking eachother for the times. INSANE

  8. A semi-enclosed cockpit would at least have mitigated the Ferrari driver’s injury, if not avoided contact to the crash helmet altogether.

  9. It has been a rough week for racers.Best to all families and friends.

  10. With these fuel loads, it’s not hard to imagine how and why Renault and Alonso managed to secure pole position. I think Alonso was very open and realistic in his analysis of this. It will be interesting to see Vettel and Webber tomorrow, as they seem to have a good chance of fighting for the win in this race, depending on how well the rather close KERS faction of the field can advance on the opening lap(s)…

  11. Its nice to see Alonso & Hamilton were talking with each other as it was two years back when they stopped talking with each other on the same race weekend.

  12. Lucy Baddriver
    7th September 2009, 21:13

    You ask me who will win this season. You ask me, you dare to. Button, mutton, crash, kaboom. Love Lucaprang.

  13. An old lady phoned up to tell us her garden was mashed up with tyre tracks everywhere and decapitated GNOME. I said Bad Bad Badoer, get back in the pits.

Comments are closed.