RED BULL took their twelfth pole-position out of 12 this season in the qualifying session for today’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) set a time of 1:48.298 (144.667-mph) around the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the final session yesterday. Vettel will be looking for his and his team’s first F1 win at Spa.
Last year’s winner, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), will line up second on the grid after setting a time of 1:48.730, while Red Bull’s Mark Webber will start the race from third.
Pretty much all of qualifying was dictated by the infamous changeable weather in the Arden forest, and yes we do have a mixed up grid.
Fourth to tenth on the grid are: 4th) Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 5th) Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), 6th) Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso), 7th) Bruno Senna (Renault. Bruno Senna has replaced the much more experienced but not as rich sponsor wise Nick Heidfeld, who is seeking to take legal action against Renault over this move. It is truly frightening to see that yellow helmet in an ‘80s style Lotus). 8th) Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 9th) Sergio Pérez (Sauber) and 10th) Vitaly Petrov (Renault).
11th-17th on the grid for today’s race are: 11th) Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso), 12th) Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), 13th) Jenson Button (McLaren. Button and McLaren got their timings wrong in Q2 and the 2009 world champion was left high and dry at the end of the session. But, Spa is known for its changeable weather and in those conditions Button is the best driver on the grid). 14th) Rubens Barrichello (Williams), 15th) Adrian Sutil (Force India), 16th) Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus, who got into Q2 on merit) and 17th) Paul di Resta (Force India, who was going to start 18th having fallen out of Q1, but was promoted on the grid for reasons I will now explain).
In the last seconds of Q2 Lewis Hamilton was on a flying lap as he approached the last corner, the Bus Stop, with Pastor Maldonado in his Williams right ahead of him. Hamilton forced his way past the Venezuelan rookie who he took out of the Monaco Grand Prix in the last few laps when they were fighting over a points place. Hamilton went into Q3 but Maldonado (who himself was being held up by two other cars) didn’t.
As the pair exited the first corner, La Source, and began the run down to the infamous Eau Rouge, Hamilton twitched, causing Maldonado
to pull out and pass him. Then either out of the inexperience of having only raced in 11 Grand Prixs or out of pure anger, Maldonado swiped Hamilton’s McLaren with his Williams, damaging the Silver car and forcing the Woking based team into emergence repairs.
After qualifying, Hamilton was given a warning by the Stewards and Maldonado was demoted from 16th to 21st on the grid. He’s a very lucky boy to be racing at all today in my opinion.
The drivers at the back of the grid are: 18th) Jarno Trulli (Lotus, in the last five races the driver starting 18th has scored points). 19th) Timo Glock (Virgin), 20th) Jérôme d’Ambrosio (Virgin, he is the first Belgian driver in the Belgian Grand Prix since Thierry Boutsen (Jordan) in 1993). 21st) Maldonado, 22nd) Vitantonio Liuzzi (HRT), 23rd) Daniel Ricciardo (HRT) and 24th) Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).
Schumacher’s right-rear wheel fell off on his Q1 out lap as he approached Rivage and slid into the tyre barrier. So Michael Schumacher will start his 20th anniversary Grand Prix from dead last, his worst ever grid position.
Four drivers: d’Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Ricciardo and Schumacher were all outside the 107% time (2:10.339) but will race because of the changeable
weather conditions and times in practice.
I’m not going to say who will win, because at Spa anybody can win.
Winners of the Belgian Grand Prix on the grid today:
- Michael Schumacher, a record six-times, 1992 (his first F1 win…I wasn’t even alive when this happened) and 1995 for Benetton and 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2002 for Ferrari. Spa is also where he won his seventh world title back in 2004.
- Felipe Massa, 2008 for Ferrari after Hamilton was (wrongly!) bumped down to third.
- Lewis Hamilton, 2010 for McLaren.