Daily Archives: August 24, 2013

Lewis Hamilton takes last-gasp pole position in Spa

Lewis Hamilton has taken a surprise pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.

While it appeared until the dying minutes that Paul di Resta would take the top spot, the changing conditions meant that the Mercedes driver could unseat the Force India, preventing their first pole position since Belgium 2009. Here is what happened:

Q1

With rain falling 20 minutes before the start of Q1, intermediates were equipped on all 22 cars.

The times tumbled throughout the session, with 10 seconds being shaved off the fastest time in the final few minutes. As the track became drier, the Marussia drivers and Giedo van der Garde opted to take on slick tyres, which paid off immensely. Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were 11th and 16th, while Giedo van der Garde took an unlikely 3rd place after being the last driver to set a time on the improving track.

However, this left a few bemused drivers at the back of the grid. Both Toro Rosso drivers, along with Pastor Maldonado, Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutierrez and Charles Pic were all knocked out in the first session. Pic also took on the dry tyres, but was held up at the weighbridge, and was unable to set a fast time.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Pastor Maldonado – 2:03.072

18) Jean-Eric Vergne – 2:03.300

19) Daniel Riccardo – 2:03.317

20) Valtteri Bottas – 2:03.432

21) Esteban Gutierrez – 2:04.324

22) Charles Pic – 2:07.384

Q2

As expected, the three backmarkers filled the grid spots from 14th to 16th, but all 3 were pleased with their personal best qualification finishes.

With the track dry in Q2, the best Giedo van der Garde could manage was 14th, with Bianchi and Chilton behind.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:49.088

12) Adrian Sutil – 1:49.103

13) Sergio Perez – 1:49.304

14) Giedo Van der Garde – 1:52.036

15) Jules Bianchi – 1:52.563

16) Max Chilton – 1:52.762

Q3

As 9 drivers sat at the end of the pit lane before Q3, rain began to fall once again. They all scrambled to set a fast time before the track dampened, but were forced to pit for intermediates, as the rain fell harder.

The last remaining driver – Paul di Resta – had quietly emerged from the pits, 30 seconds after everyone else, equipped on the inters. The rest of the paddock could only watch in shock as Di Resta grabbed pole position – or so he thought.

Force India believed that the rain would keep falling, and so pitted Paul, confident that pole was theirs. As the other drivers hastily rejoined the track on wets, they were unable to match Di Resta’s time in the wetter conditions. Nico Rosberg got the closest, but he was still half a second off the mark.

To Force India’s surprise though, the rain clouds slowly cleared, paving the way for a crazed finish to Q3. Rosberg then thought he had provisional pole secured, but within a matter of seconds found himself in 4th place. Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and then Lewis Hamilton all set blinding lap times, with the Mercedes driver eventually on top.

A bemused Di Resta finished 5th, ahead of the two Lotuses and two Ferraris. Hamilton and Vettel share the front row once again, and we are set for a stunner of a race tomorrow.

 

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