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12 Nov 2008

The 2008 qualifying kings - Saturday’s winners and losers

If there is one person you want to beat as a Formula One driver it’s your team mate. When you’re both driving the same car, there are few places to hide if you find yourself struggling to match your colleague. So who won out this season? Which world champion was put firmly in the shade? Who was the only man to whitewash his team mate? Find out in our team-by-team qualifying rundown…

(Note - statistics are based purely on qualifying and do not include grid penalties.)

Qualifying woes were one of the major features of Kimi Raikkonen’s season - and a huge contributing factor in the loss of his title. The fact that Felipe Massa out-qualified him two to one says it all. Whereas the Brazilian notched up six poles and a further five front-row starts, the Finn’s respective figures were two and four.
Final score: Massa 12, Raikkonen 6

BMW Sauber
Like Raikkonen at Ferrari, Nick Heidfeld struggled to get the best out of his car over a single lap, his driving style seemingly unsuited to generating the required level of heat in its tyres. Robert Kubica coped far better, at least until the final few races, scoring the team’s maiden pole in Bahrain and regularly getting the F1.08 into the top six.
Final score: Kubica 13, Heidfeld 5

Only one man totally decimated his team mate in the qualifying stakes and that was Fernando Alonso. The former champion may not have had the most competitive of cars for the bulk of the season, but that didn’t stop him making Q3 at all but three races. He even put the R28 on the front row for his home race. By contrast, Nelson Piquet featured in the top ten on just three occasions, his best performance a seventh place at Silverstone.
Final score: Alonso 18, Piquet 0

Another clear winner here, with Nico Rosberg comfortably beating rookie team mate Kazuki Nakajima. However, this was arguably more to do with Rosberg out-performing his machinery than with any extreme shortcomings on Nakajima’s part. The German manhandled his FW30 into Q3 seven times, including fifth places in Canada and Italy, while the Japanese driver managed it just once, a 10th in Singapore.
Final score: Rosberg 14, Nakajima 4

Red Bull
Mark Webber has always had a reputation as an excellent qualifier, team mate David Coulthard pretty much the opposite. Perhaps no surprise then that the Australian trounced the Scot. A front-row start at Silverstone - Red Bull’s first - and another 11 top-ten grid slots showed just how good a season of Saturdays Webber had. Sundays, of course, were often a different matter.
Final score: Webber 16, Coulthard 2

Like Webber, Jarno Trulli has always been regarded as something of a single-lap specialist. In 2008, whenever only one Toyota got as far as Q3, you could be pretty certain it was the Italian’s (Singapore being the sole exception). He made the top-ten shootout at all but four races, even putting the TF108 on the front row in Brazil. ‘Rookie’ team mate Timo Glock was always going to struggle to live with him, but acquitted himself well nonetheless - eight Q3 appearances with a best of P5 in Hungary.
Final score: Trulli 14, Glock 4

With two such experienced drivers, both proven race winners, you’d expect a close contest here and so it proved. Rubens Barrichello just had the edge over Jenson Button, but with the RA108 so uncompetitive, the difference between the two men was negligible. Each made Q3 just once - Button in Bahrain, Barrichello in Canada.
Final score: Barrichello 10, Button 8

Toro Rosso
Champ Car master Sebastien Bourdais freely admitted he couldn’t match team mate Sebastian Vettel when it came to piloting a car that often didn’t suit his driving style - and it showed in the stats. Vettel was the star, with 10 Q3 outings, including his and the team’s maiden pole at Monza. In his defence, like the young German, Bourdais improved as the season progressed, reaching Q3 in six of the last seven races.
Final score: Vettel 13, Bourdais 5

Force India
Along with Honda, this was the closest battle on the grid. Unlike Honda, however, it was a case of a relative newcomer - Adrian Sutil - up against a seasoned veteran - Giancarlo Fisichella. The veteran won it, but only just. It was usually a battle to see who could get off the back row, with Fisichella’s weather-assisted P12 in Italy the notable exception.
Final score: Fisichella 10, Sutil 8

You would expect the man who wins the championship to qualify well and Lewis Hamilton did indeed dominate team mate Heikki Kovalainen, though it should be borne in mind that it was often the Finn who started the race with the heavier car. Kovalainen scored one pole, Hamilton seven; and only once was either of them outside the top seven - Hamilton in Italy, where poor tyre choice left him a lowly 15th.
Final score: Hamilton 14, Kovalainen 4

(L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, French Grand Prix, Race Day, Magny-Cours, France, Sunday, 22 June 2008 Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault in parc ferme with Nelson Piquet Jr. (BRA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Japan, Sunday, 12 October 2008. © Sutton Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sunday, 6 April 2008 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota eating some ice cream (Right) with team mate Timo Glock (GER) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 12 September 2008 Post qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren, second; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, pole position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 2 August 2008. © Sutton