Heikki Kovalainen was the big upset in the first knockout session in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix after his final lap was not enough to haul him up into the top sixteen.

With the short Interlagos circuit prompting some close times, those on the cusp faced a tough final lap to squeeze into the second stage of qualifying.

Even so, Kovalainen was a surprise appearance in the drop zone after his final lap barely improved on his previous effort following a mistake on the final corner, to mark the second time he has failed to reach the second session, the other being occasion at Canada.

He was joined on the sidelines by both Super Aguris, Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson 18th and 20th, the pair being split by Williams newcomer Kazuki Nakajima, the youngster starting his first grand prix from a disappointing 19th.

Spyker rounded out the grid in 21st and 22nd, Adrian Sutil leading Sakon Yamamoto despite managing just a single lap before pulling over with a mechanical problem.

At the front, Felipe Massa was fastest, ahead of Fernando Alonso but only after the Spaniard was forced to waste an extra pair of tyres with a second run when his first attempt left him in the lower reaches of the top ten. Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton were third and fourth quickest.

 

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