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Qualifying analysis - Button finally to the fore 01 Sep 2012

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34 and Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Pirelli tyres.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations Day, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 26 July 2012

It’s been three long years since Jenson Button started a Grand Prix from pole position, but on Saturday in Belgium the McLaren driver secured his first P1 grid slot since Monaco 2009 in dominant style. With Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi joining Button on the front row and drivers from seven teams making up the top ten, we’re in for a thrilling race on Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at how all the runners performed…

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 47.573s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 48.394s, P8, will start P7

A brilliant lap from Button gave him his first McLaren pole in his 50th race for the team, and his first since Monaco 2009. He used a revised rear wing and said the balance of his car was perfect, whereas Hamilton struggled with a higher downforce set-up and claimed he lost four-tenths on the straights alone.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 47.871s, P2
Sergio Perez, 1m 48.219s, P5, will start P4

An extraordinary performance by both drivers saw Kobayashi equal the best-ever starting position for a Japanese driver, and Perez move up to fourth place after Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was penalised three places for blocking Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. Both men were very happy with their cars and not surprisingly there is a very upbeat feeling within the little team from Hinwil.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 47.893s, P3, will start P6
Bruno Senna, 1m 50.088s, P17

Williams were cock-a-hoop when Maldonado planted his FW34 third on the grid, but the Venezuelan had earlier blocked Hulkenberg and was subsequently given a three-place penalty which dropped him to sixth. Senna had a very long slide down the kerb at Pouhon which he was lucky to get away with, and qualified poorly. But overall there is a strong feeling that this race could give Maldonado his best chance to score well since Barcelona.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 48.205s, P4, will start P3
Romain Grosjean, 1m 48.538s, P9, will start P8

Both drivers made mistakes which hurt their chances of qualifying well. Raikkonen was unable to beat his first-run time, while Grosjean said he made mistakes too. The Finn got a fillip when Maldonado’s penalty moved him up a place and on to the cleaner side of the grid, while the Frenchman also moved up a place when Webber’s five place gearbox change penalty was applied. There is a feeling within the camp that Raikkonen’s strong starting position gives them their best shot at a win so far this season.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 48.313s, P6, will start P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 49.147s, P14

Alonso came to Spa saying that he really wanted a wet race, and the pace of the Ferrari confirmed that. It just wasn’t fast enough. But he said that sixth place on Sunday, with his title rivals in the same places, would do very nicely. Massa struggled for grip all day in the second sector, which he said was highly disappointing as he matched Alonso’s pace in the other two.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 48.392s, P7, will start P12
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 48.792s, P11, will start P10

The harsh facts of Spa life for Red Bull were that the RB8 just wasn’t fast enough. Webber was the quicker driver this week, but he was penalised five places for a gearbox change late on Friday night, and that dropped him from seventh to 12th. It moved Vettel up a place, however, after he had qualified 11th and thus failed to make it into Q3.

Force India
Paul di Resta, 1m 48.890s, P11, will start P9
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 48.855s, P12, will start P11

Di Resta felt that his lap in Q2 was the best he could have done, and though he couldn’t repeat it in Q3 he qualified 10th and was promoted to ninth by Maldonado’s penalty. Hulkenberg said he couldn’t quite get the speed he’d expected for a Q3 run and complained that he was baulked by Maldonado, who was subsequently given his three-place penalty.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, 1m 49.081s, P13
Nico Rosberg, 1m 50.181s, P18, will start P23

The Mercedes just wasn’t fast enough, leaving Schumacher stranded in the midfield, while Rosberg lost a lot of dry road running time with his gearbox failure in the morning and then got dropped from 18th to 23rd by his resultant penalty.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 49.354s, P15
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 49.543s, P16

Toro Rosso didn’t expect much more after the summer break than 15th and 16th, but Vergne was happy to outqualify his team mate and they plan aggressive strategies for the race to snatch whatever opportunities come their way.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 51.739s, P19, will start P18
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 51.967s, P20, will start P19

Caterham were disappointed by their performance. Kovalainen was unhappy with his car’s balance and had DRS problems in FP3 and Q1, while both he and Petrov complained about traffic on their best runs.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 52.336s, P21, will start P20
Charles Pic, 1m 53.493s, P23, will start P22

Glock struggled with mistakes on his first lap and then had big oversteer at the end of his second, while Pic could not reproduce his Friday form and was a long way off his team mate. He was all the more disappointed as he prepared for the team’s 50th race as he felt that the updates they brought to Belgium had been beneficial.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 53.030s, P22, will start P21
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 54.989s, P24

De la Rosa was very happy with an ‘impeccable’ lap that pushed him past Pic, and the extra place he gained due to Rosberg’s penalty, but Karthikeyan said he didn’t have such a good qualifying as traffic spoiled his best run.

Pirelli
The tyre supplier believe the medium tyre is between 0.6-0.9s faster than the hard compound at Spa and they expecting two to three stops on Sunday.

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