Qualifying analysis - stage set for blistering Belgian battle 27 Aug 2011
Spa more than lived up to its dramatic reputation on Saturday, with both changeable weather and driver exploits mixing up the on-track action. Although Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel eventually snatched pole position for the ninth time this season, there was plenty of competition for the top slot, not least from McLarens Lewis Hamilton. We take a team-by-team look at qualifying...
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 48.298s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 49.376s, P3
Vettel said that he had been uncomfortable early on in qualifying, but that he took a step forward in Q2 with some new racing lines that led to a big improvement. He was delighted with his ninth pole of the season. Webber, who turned 35 this weekend, had been happy, until he was pushed from first to third, and suggested that he might have pushed his tyres too hard, too soon.
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 48.730s, P2
Jenson Button, 2m 05.150s, P13
Hamilton survived the drama of a collision at the end of Q2 when Maldonado drove into him, and was able to fight for pole in Q3 though his McLarens suspension was slightly out of line. He held it for seconds, until he was deposed by Vettel, and says he will be strong in the race. Button was unlucky to miss his final chance to improve as times tumbled at the end of Q2, after a misunderstanding between him and the team saw him cool his tyres and run out of laps in which to improve. He will start only 13th.
Felipe Massa, 1m 50.256s, P4
Fernando Alonso, 1m 51.251s, P8
Ferrari looked very strong in Q1 and Q2, with Alonso fastest in the latter. But when the time came to go to slicks in Q3, the Spaniard had trouble generating sufficient tyre temperature and also struggled with traffic. For a change, Massa got the best out of a tricky and disappointing situation to take fourth, with his team mate only eighth.
Nico Rosberg, 1m 50.552s, P5
Michael Schumacher, no time, P24
Mercedes had a bad start when the right-rear wheel fell of Schumachers car at Les Combes on his out lap, spinning him into a wall and leaving him in 24th place. Rosberg improved late on to fifth.
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 50.773s, P6
Sebastien Buemi, 2m 04.692s, P11
Toro Rosso have been hooked up all weekend here, and Alguersuari did an excellent job to take his best-ever Formula One qualifying position. Team mate Buemi ran him close all through but lost out by not quite getting the right lap at the right time in the track condition lottery, but with 11th place as well the team are well set to score strongly in their midfield fight with Sauber and Force India.
Bruno Senna, 1m 51.121s, P7
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 52.303s, P10
Senna made a hugely impressive return to race duty, outqualifying Petrov fair and square even though he lost three-tenths on one of the straights as he was activating KERS and the DRS. The Russian was happy with 10th place, however, having survived a spin.
Sergio Perez, 1m 51.374s, P9
Kamui Kobayashi, 2m 04.757s, P12
Perez was again the star in the Hinwil camp, getting through to Q3 to take ninth on the grid. The Mexican said he was very happy with his best-ever starting position. Kobayashi said he lost out on a final crack at Q3 when he took the chequered flag a fraction earlier than others who went on to improve. Peter Sauber said the overall result was better than expected, while technical director James Key said a set-up gamble had paid off.
Rubens Barrichello, 2m 07.349s, P14
Pastor Maldonado, 2m 08.106s, P16, will start P21
Both drivers said that their progress towards Q3 was compromised when the red flag came out for Sutils debris to be cleared up in Q2, and that they thereafter met traffic. Maldonado will start five places lower after clashing with Hamilton.
Adrian Sutil, 2m 07.777s, P15
Paul di Resta, 2m 07.758s, P18, will start P17
Force India came to Spa expecting to repeat their 2009 level of competitiveness, but for various reasons failed to deliver. Sutil had just gone fifth fastest in Q2 when he lost it at the top of Eau Rouge and trashed his VJM-04, while Di Resta spun while trying to push through to Q2, and just when he looked safe was bumped by Kovalainen. The Scot blamed the team for keeping him in the pits when conditions were at their best, then calling him in just as he could have made one last effort to improve. Starting 15th and 18th, theyll be charging on Sunday.
Heikki Kovalainen, 2m 08.354s, P17, will start P16
Jarno Trulli, 2m 08.773s, P19, will start P18
Kovalainen was delighted to get through to Q2, and said that he didnt think he could have got any more from the Lotus package, while Trulli complained off traffic on his best lap in Q1.
Timo Glock, 2m 09.566s, P20, will start P19
Jerome DAmbrosio, 2m 11.601s, P21, will start P20
Glock thought that changes made to his VR-02 affected it for Q1 when he struggled on his first set of tyres, but said he got the most from the car on his second run. DAmbrosio was disappointed with his time and said that they didnt get his strategy right.
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 2m 11.616s, P22
Daniel Ricciardo, 2m 13.077s, P23
Liuzzi said he could have been up with Glock but for traffic on his best lap which cost him five-tenths, while Ricciardo said he didnt make the best of the one good lap of track conditions in Q1.
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