Qualifying analysis - Button finally to the fore 01 Sep 2012
Its 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 Saubers Kamui Kobayashi joining Button on the front row and drivers from seven teams making up the top ten, were in for a thrilling race on Sunday. We take a team-by-team look at how all the runners performed
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.
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 Indias 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.
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.
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 Maldonados penalty moved him up a place and on to the cleaner side of the grid, while the Frenchman also moved up a place when Webbers five place gearbox change penalty was applied. There is a feeling within the camp that Raikkonens strong starting position gives them their best shot at a win so far this season.
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 wasnt 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 Alonsos pace in the other two.
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 wasnt 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.
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 couldnt repeat it in Q3 he qualified 10th and was promoted to ninth by Maldonados penalty. Hulkenberg said he couldnt quite get the speed hed expected for a Q3 run and complained that he was baulked by Maldonado, who was subsequently given his three-place penalty.
Michael Schumacher, 1m 49.081s, P13
Nico Rosberg, 1m 50.181s, P18, will start P23
The Mercedes just wasnt 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.
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 49.354s, P15
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 49.543s, P16
Toro Rosso didnt 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.
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 cars balance and had DRS problems in FP3 and Q1, while both he and Petrov complained about traffic on their best runs.
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 teams 50th race as he felt that the updates they brought to Belgium had been beneficial.
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 Rosbergs penalty, but Karthikeyan said he didnt have such a good qualifying as traffic spoiled his best run.
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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