Giancarlo Fisichella was one of the big losers in a much tighter mid-field than of late in qualifying for the European Grand Prix, but for Renault team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, it was a much different story.

Heading into qualifying planted firmly on the back foot as both drivers struggle for grip throughout the weekend, both drivers were on the cusp of the top ten in the second stage of qualifying.

However, while Fisichella was not quite able to find the speed to haul him into the top ten shootout, Kovalainen was on form to make it through relatively comfortably and once there the Finn acquitted himself well enough to claim seventh on the grid - far higher than Fisichella in 13th.

Not that Kovalainen was entirely satisfied, admitting his frustrations of missing out on a spot on the third row by a mere two thousandths of a second.

"My final lap in Q3 was OK, so it was frustrating to lose out to Webber by just two thousandths little, as I could probably have found some more time in the first and final sectors. But our pace this afternoon wasn't good enough to fight with the BMWs, and that is our target at the moment.

"The new front wing is definitely a step forward for me, and the car is working better, but we are lacking grip, and missing something with the package this weekend. The balance is good, though, and we hope that our new developments will bring us better consistency in the race. The main thing this afternoon is that Lewis is OK. It was a nasty-looking accident, but we saw him giving the thumbs up, so hopefully he will be fine."

Although just half a second separated sixth down to 13th in the second knockout stage, Fisichella's best lap placed him on the wrong side of that gap, the Italian starting in his worst starting position since Spa 2005.

"After a run of good qualifying sessions, it is really frustrating not to get through to the top ten. We spent the morning trying to find a good balance with the new front wing we are running here and made good progress compared to yesterday.

"We are still understanding how to find the best set- up with it, but the car felt OK in the first qualifying runs. On my first lap in second qualifying, I had traffic in the first sector and that cost me three tenths - enough to get through to the super-pole session.

"So I knew that everything was resting on the final lap and I just went over the limit in a few places, trying to make up the time. It is tough to be starting from so far back, but that is how it goes. We can certainly make up positions tomorrow, so now we need to find a good strategy to help us do that."

 

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