Webber pips Hamilton to Spa pole

Mark Webber took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix today. He pipped Lewis Hamilton, who was 2nd, ahead of Robert Kubica. Sebastian Vettel was 4th, while Fernando Alonso was caught out and is 10th. Here is the full report:

Mark Webber in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix

Mark Webber in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix


The weather was dry at the start of Q1, but the clouds looked threatening. This resulted in all of the drivers going out at the start, but not a single one of them set a lap. This is because Vitaly Petrov brought out the red flags after a minute and a half, by crashing before the Pouhon corner, as there was a small amount of standing water on the kerbs. His session was over, and he will start from the back of the grid.

When the session restarted, the cars all lined up again at the end of the pit lane, except for the Red Bulls, who held their cars in the pits while they made space for themselves on the track. However, on their warm-up laps, the rain started to fall, and a huge scramble emerged for position on track. Many drivers, especially Schumacher, were jostling for position in the middle of their flying laps, which ruined their time.

The rain fell harder, and a disaster occurred at Stavelot corner, where half the field ran off the track, spun or nearly collided. With so many dangerous incidents, the stewards soon announced they would be investigating the incidents. Within a few minutes, most of the field pitted again. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls, who struggled as they went out later on the wetter track, decided to stay out and switch to intermediates.

Vettel’s first lap was a 1.58, which was enough to put him into 3rd, but then he had to crawl back to the pits, to conserve his inters. Adrian Sutil then went 5th, and Jarno Trulli got 14th. Timo Glock, in the middle of all the previous chaos, was now up to 12th.

Heikki Kovalainen, on the other hand, chose to experiment with the slick tyres. Rosberg and Vettel noticed his improvement, and also went onto the dry tyres. Robert Kubica went fastest on the inters with a 1.56, before the session was yellow flagged after Kamui Kobayashi slipped and got stuck in the gravel track. To make matters worse for the Sauber team, Pedro de la Rosa swiftly ran off and hit the barriers.

After all the drama, there was still time for one set of flying laps. Nico Rosberg chopped a second off Kubica’s time while on slicks, while Michael Schumacher went 5th. Not many others went out again, so it was a quiet end to a chaotic session. Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock managed to get through to Q2. Meanwhile, both Saubers, Hispanias, Lucas di Grassi and Vitaly Petrov were eliminated.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Jarno Trulli

19) Kamui Kobayashi

20) Bruno Senna

21) Sakon Yamamoto

22) Pedro de la Rosa

23) Lucas di Grassi

24) Vitaly Petrov


The track had dried out by the time Q2 started. Again, another charge of cars out of the pit lane greeted the start of the session, as there was no guarantee of the rain staying away. Both McLaren drivers went out on a used set of soft tyres. 1.50.7 was the fastest lap so far, set by Lewis Hamilton.

Mistakes by Button and Alonso, followed by a spin from Liuzzi, showed that the track was still damp in places, most notably Stavelot. Schumacher ignored this danger, and went fastest with a 1.49. Felipe Massa, on the other hand, spun and nearly got stuck in the gravel track, in the same place as Kobayashi, but he managed to struggle his way out.

Heikki Kovalainen went out for the first time with only 5 minutes remaining. His main rival, Timo Glock, went 15th for Virgin. Jenson Button went fastest with a 1.47.4, showing the track was much drier. Sebastien Buemi went 7th, while Kovalainen was 15th. Lewis Hamilton then went a full second faster than Button to take top spot.

Adrian Sutil, the man tipped to surprise the field in a dry race scenario, went 5th. His team-mate Liuzzi could only manage 12th, and was out of Q2. In the dying seconds, the Williams drivers of Barrichello and Hulkenberg went 9th and 10th, while Schumacher and Rosberg were 11th and 12th. Michael’s 10-place grid penalty means that he will be starting 21st.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Michael Schumacher

12) Nico Rosberg

13) Jaime Alguersuari

14) Vitantonio Liuzzi

15) Sebastien Buemi

16) Heikki Kovalainen

17) Timo Glock


While the Ferraris and McLarens went out quickly, the Red Bulls, Adrian Sutil and Rubens Barrichello opted to hold back. Lewis Hamilton, the first man out, was quite wild on his flying lap, but still set a 1.46.2. Felipe Massa, Jenson Button, and Fernando Alonso went 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Robert Kubica then went fastest, before Mark Webber topped all of them.

Rubens Barrichello beat Nico Hulkenberg to 7th, then Adrian Sutil split the two. While rain started to fall, Fernando Alonso was left in huge trouble, as he was in 9th, and track conditions were deteriorating quite a bit. Mark Webber’s time seemed to be unbeatable, seeing as the track wouldn’t support another driver’s challenge for pole. Despite this, both of the McLarens improved their times.

However, nobody was able to knock Webber off top spot, so he deservedly takes pole position. But knowing Spa (heavy rain forecast for tomorrow), anything can happen in the race…

Full times from qualifying:

Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1′57.352 1′47.253 1′45.778
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1′56.706 1′46.211 1′45.863
3 Robert Kubica Renault 1′56.041 1′47.320 1′46.100
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1′58.487 1′47.245 1′46.127
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1′57.981 1′46.790 1′46.206
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1′58.323 1′47.322 1′46.314
7 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1′55.757 1′47.797 1′46.602
8 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1′58.730 1′47.292 1′46.659
9 Nico Hülkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1′55.442 1′47.821 1′47.053
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1′57.023 1′47.544 1′47.441
11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1′56.313 1′47.874
12 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1′54.826 1′47.885
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1′58.944 1′48.267
14 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 2′01.102 1′48.680
15 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2′00.386 1′49.209
16 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 2′01.343 1′50.980
17 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2′01.316 1′52.049
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 2′01.491
19 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2′02.284
20 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2′03.612
21 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 2′03.941
22 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 2′05.294
23 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 2′18.154
24 Vitaly Petrov Renault

Notes: Michael Schumacher will start 21st after a 10-place grid penalty for his move on Barrichello in Hungary.

Sebastien Buemi has been docked 3 places for impeding Nico Rosberg and Timo Glock.

Timo Glock has been given a 5-place penalty for holding up Sakon Yamamoto (!).

Nico Rosberg has been given a 5-place penalty, because of  a gearbox change.

Amazingly, this leaves Heikki Kovalainen in 13th place on the grid.


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