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Qualifying - Button clinches his first McLaren pole 01 Sep 2012

(L to R): Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber, pole sitter Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams celebrate in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012

Jenson Button was almost in a class of his own in qualifying at Spa on Saturday afternoon, lapping his McLaren in 1m 47.686s and then improving that to 1m 47.573s to secure pole position

Button succeeded despite an heroic run by Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, who equals the best starting place for a Japanese driver in a Grand Prix by joining the Briton on the front row with 1m 47.871s.

Fancied runners such as Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had disappointing runs, as Pastor Maldonado pounced into third place for Williams with 1m 47.893s.

In the top trio’s wake, Raikkonen failed to improve on his initial best of 1m 48.205s and took fourth ahead of Sergio Perez who lapped his Sauber in 1m 48.219s for fifth. Alonso couldn’t better 1m 48.313s for sixth, while Mark Webber was seventh on 1m 48.392s from Hamilton on 1m 48.394s. Romain Grosjean was disappointing for Lotus with ninth fastest 1m 48.538s, and Paul di Resta was 10th for Force India on 1m 48.890s.

The major surprise of Q2 was Sebastian Vettel’s failure to get through to Q3. The German’s Red Bull seemed to lack its usual sparkle all session. As Button pulled a stunning 1m 47.654s out to set the pace, Vettel’s best lap of 1m 48.792s wasn’t quite good enough to dislodge 10th fastest Maldonado on 1m 48.780s.

Behind the champion, Nico Hulkenberg was 12th for Force India with 1m 48.855s ahead of Michael Schumacher who couldn’t persuade his Mercedes to dip below 1m 49.081s, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on 1m 49.147s, the Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo on 1m 49.354s and 1m 49.543s respectively, and Bruno Senna on 1m 50.088s. The Williams driver had a very lurid sideways slide all through Pouhon before setting that time.

Maldonado was a surprise fastest in Q1 with 1m 48.933s from Button, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Raikkonen, but it was a bad session for Nico Rosberg, who was the first faller in 18th on 1m 50.181s. Behind him, Heikki Kovalainen was 19th for Caterham ahead of team mate Vitaly Petrov, 1m 51.739s to 1m 51.967s.

Timo Glock was easily Marussia’s faster runner this time with 1m 52.336s, as Pedro de la Rosa made a late run to put his HRT ahead of Charles Pic’s Marussia, 1m 53.030s to 1m 53.493s. Narain Karthikeyan brought up the rear with 1m 54.989s in the second HRT.

After the session had finished, Maldonado was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg during Q1 so he will drop from third to sixth. There are two gearbox penalties too, which affect Webber and Rosberg. The Australian thus drops from seventh to 12th, the German from 18th to 23rd.

Thus the grid order is: Button, Kobayashi; Raikkonen, Perez; Alonso, Maldonado; Hamilton, Grosjean; Di Resta, Vettel; Hulkenberg, Webber; Schumacher, Massa; Vergne, Ricciardo; Senna, Kovalainen; Petrov, Glock; De la Rosa, Pic; Rosberg, Karthikeyan.

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