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Webber on pole in difficult Belgian Grand Prix qualifying
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Webber on pole in difficult Belgian Grand Prix qualifying
Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Aug 2010   |  2:16 pm GMT  |  65 comments

Mark Webber took pole position for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica on a day when changeable conditions and sudden rain showers made it very hard to predict when the track would be at its fastest.

It was Webber’s fifth pole position of the season and the 12th from 13 races for Red Bull.
“We knew the first lap would be important. The weather has been so on and off. I was happy with the lap and it was enough for pole,” said Webber. “It was tense times when the track is like that. It was one of those days when it could go wrong.”


The Red Bull lived up to predictions that it would be vastly superior in the middle sector of the lap here at Spa, it was half a second faster than the next fastest car.

Rain for the final runs looked to have spoiled any chance for drivers to improve, but Lewis Hamilton still managed to find time and climbed to second on the grid.

At the start of qualifying the track was dry enough for slick tyres, but Vitaly Petrov found some dampness and crashed into the barriers, a mistake he made earlier in the season in qualifying. The session was red flagged and Petrov had set no time. After his strong performance in Budapest this was a real fall from grace for the Russian.

The stoppage used up vital dry track time. And the rain fell as the cars did their out laps, but everyone carried on and tried to do a lap on slick tyres. There were spins, including Adrian Sutil. Button and Hamilton did very strong laps, but Sebastian Vettel delayed his departure from the pits and didn’t quite make it in the window when the track was fast, so he was 17th, only one place away from missing the cut for Q2. He went out on intermediates and got himself up to 3rd place.

In the closing stages of Q1, De la Rosa and Kobayashi tried their luck on slick tyres and went off the track, Mark Webber also took a risk by going out on slicks, while Alonso and Kubica both set fast times on intermediates. It was rather an unnecessary gamble at the time by Webber, but he survived and set a competitive time.

With Petrov, Kobayashi and De La Rosa out, this gave Timo Glock and Heikki Kovalainen the chance to make it through to Q2.

The cars went out on slick tyres for Q2, but there was still quite a bit of water on the track in Turn 14, which sent Button and Massa off the track, but they rejoined. Schumacher excelled in these mixed conditions on the harder tyre. The track was improving all the time and was obviously going to be fastest at the end of the session. Sadly for Schumacher he hit traffic when the track was fastest and missed the cut. He qualified 11th but will start 21st due to his ten place penalty.

Team mate Rosberg qualified 12th, but will start 17th due to a five place gearbox change penalty. Also missing the cut for Q3 were Alguersuari, Liuzzi, Buemi, Kovalainen and Glock.

Lewis Hamilton was very impressive in the changeable conditions of Q1 and Q2, with two laps fast enough to beat the next fastest runner.

In Q3 the speed of the Red Bull in the middle sector was clear, he was half a second faster than the McLarens in that sector alone. After the first runs, Webber was fastest, being the last of the front runners to set their time. He was ahead of Kubica and Vettel. Meanwhile Alonso could only manage 9th.

The rain then started falling around the first sector, just as the cars went out for their final runs, but a few drivers still managed to improve their lap times, including Hamilton who went up to second place and Button who went fifth. Alonso could not improve and ended up 10th.

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65 Comments
  1. JonB says:

    Seems like Alonso did his first run on used softs. Weird gamble when the McLarens were so fast, and Red Bull should be expected to turn it up for Q3.

    Was really nice to see Michael out there today. He hasn’t really seemed himself this year, but it was a pleasure watching him in quali today. That moment where they all went off and he steered confidently inbetween felt like the master at work again.

    1. Bruce Hoult says:

      Michael is looking pretty good.

      I reckon he’ll get past everyone except the top three teams, his teammate, and Robert, Adrian and Reubens. I’d have said Vitaly too, but he’s starting last. Kamui and Jaime have given him problems in the past but he’ll get Kamui off the start and Jaime in the pitstops.

      That means 11th.

      How’s that for pinning my colours to the flagpole?

      1. JonB says:

        Solid guess there:o

        I’m going for the old master in the top 6, Vettel losing out in this race for some reason, Alonso in the top 10 but not really spectacular, with Massa as a surprising star of the gp.

      2. JonB says:

        I was right on lap 38:)

        Well Massa was losing too much in s2 to Webber, but a little fanboyism never hurt anyone.

  2. Amritraj says:

    Hugely disappointing for Alonso. He was losing up to 4 tenths to Massa in the 1st sector itself. I was quite surprised to see this.

    I am not sure why he was so slow today. It seems pretty far-fetched to think he has set-up his car for a wet race tomorrow.

    Meanwhile, a super drive from Webber and Hamilton. I think the title fight is going to boil down between these two.

    1. Knuckles says:

      Apparently these are both pics from Q today, definitely different wing setups between FM and FA: http://forums.autosport.com/index.php?showtopic=117107&st=6720&p=4558247&#entry4558247

      1. Knuckles says:

        Though Q photos from F1Fanatic suggest that at least one of the above images is fake.

      2. Ibrahim Patel says:

        except all the “qual” pics on f1fanatic are not from qual itself.
        In the descrption it says “Take a look back at the action from qualifying and final practice in the selection of pictures below.”

        Also one of the pics is of vettel being pushed back to his garage after breaking down at the end of FP3.

      3. James Allen says:

        Thanks for this strand. I will photograph the rear wings of Massa and Alonso on the grid and put them up, so you can see accurately. They will not change from quali as the cars have been in parc ferme

      4. Pankaj Shamal says:

        Images are not fake…

        have a look at here

        http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/pankaj.ganpatlal/F1#5510628254892501282

      5. Amritraj says:

        http://www.formula1.com/news/technical/2010/836/781.html

        I think Massa is running a new wing, a low-downforce one, and Alonso is not. Surprising, isn’t it? I don’t think the Ferraris were a match for the RB and McL, however, I think Alonso has been the faster man all weekend.

        Why Alonso lost time to Massa is what I want to know. I think the tyre gamble explains it to an extent.

        Hello James,

        Could you kindly shed light on the time made-up between a new set of Softs vs an old set during a hot lap?

      6. James Allen says:

        Massa had two sets of new soft tyres for Q3 while Alonso only had one, which he used at the wrong time. Alonso had used an extra set in Q2, as he risked missing the cut. He has a wet set up, Massa a dry.

  3. Alonso_Ferrari says:

    Alonso is setup for a wet race

    1. LT says:

      and you know that the others aren’t?? Or maybe he just wasn’t good enough on the day?

    2. Andoaneo says:

      Interesting idea. I would have thought a lot of people would have had an eye on Sunday rather than the grid given the hugely changeable conditions.

  4. Peter says:

    McLaren will be hard to beat still, as they can generate heat in their tires in changing conditions. That was obvious when they were still improving their times whilst others were losing grip. F-duct also will play a significant role in the straights.

  5. Ron says:

    Button is such a flop driver – his WDC was the result of Charlie Whiting allowing a double diffuser in 2009… all extremely suspicious and political no doubt.

    There are a number of better drivers that should be in Button’s seat – he is a waste of a top car.

    1. MR says:

      So if Webber or Vettel win the WDC then according to you they won’t deserve it because their car has had a much bigger performance advantage than Brawn’s did last year and they have had numerous suspicious parts on their car (blown diffuser, flexi wing, flexi floor).
      Button has had just as many wins this season as Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton, but no doubt he just ‘lucked’ into them, and he is ahead of Alonso and only 10 points behind Hamilton (2 points in old money) in his first season with Mclaren.

    2. 77 says:

      4 tenths off lewis, same margin as vettel from webber – is he wasting that red bull seat too? is massa a waste of the ferrari seat considering his points gap to alonso? button is still in the title hunt (albiet probably for not too much longer), which considering how the car isn’t exactly dominant is no mean feat. he’s helping mclaren along nicely points wise so I’d hardly say he is a ‘waste’…

    3. Liam says:

      Name one of the drivers you refer to… You’ll quickly find that none of them were available… Button thoroughly deserves the seat.

      And DD in 2009… lol they had like a 4 tenth advantage or something for 6 or 7 races and he used it perfectly – Better than either Vettel or Webber have done this season with a much bigger advantage.

      Anyway… Can’t help thinking Hamilton will nail this one whatever the weather does provided he doesn’t get particularly unlucky. Webber won’t stand a chance down those straights.

    4. Waz says:

      Quite right. Makes me retch when people think that he should beat hamilton to this year’s championship. Ws listening to Justin Webb of Radio 4 on the way to work on Friday interviewing Sir Stirling Moss, in which he was effectively exclusively wishing Button a great weekend! Wonderful world we live in.

    5. tharris19 says:

      Button is a excellent driver. This year, even when his car has not been up to par, he has been extraordinarily resourceful taking advantage of every opportunity available to him. You can’t ask more from a professional driver than that.
      He is no Hamilton but, who is? However, he is in the top five this year because of his skills not the car.

  6. drchroy says:

    “Sadly for Schumacher he hit traffic when the track was fastest and missed the cut.”

    To be precise that traffic was his own team-mate Nico Rosberg!

    1. Adam0 says:

      Haven’t Mercedes done this a few times this year? Better management needed from the pit lane I think!

      On the BBC Coverage today Andrew Shovelin apologised for the traffic situation over the radio to Schumacher but I couldn’t make out his reponse.

  7. Sharp_Saw says:

    James,

    Do you think that Alonso may be on a better wet weather setup compared to the rest of the top 10 or the Ferraris geniunely were geniunely beaten in Q3? Ferraris tweets suggest that quali didn’t go well and the positions don’t reflect the true potential of the car’s performance.

    1. Knuckles says:

      According to the Autosport live comments Marc Gene said that Alonso ran a bit more wing for wet weather, and Alonso himself confirmed this in an interview after the race. But note that I only read another poster mentioning this.

      According to Autosport News, his slow times were however also caused by having only one set of new softs for Q3, which he saved for the last run, which was then spoiled by patches of rain.

      1. James Allen says:

        He had a few moments too. Generally don’t think the Ferraris arenas comfortable in the wet

      2. Knuckles says:

        You are correct of course. Thanks for confirming FA’s having set up with more of a tendency toward wet weather, and for promising to look into the wing differences between FA and FM (in the other thread, where replies aren’t possible anymore). It’s raining now in live coverage. This will be an epic race!

  8. Bruce Hoult says:

    I’ve taken the liberty of attempting to compile a list of people in
    the competition for the book after qualifying, given that Michael
    qualified 11th and will start 21st. No doubt James has his own already
    :-)

    All finishing places except 3rd were either taken in the comments to
    the original story on August 5th, or else have not yet been taken.

    The first reader to predict Schumacher starting 21st and finishing in …

    1: Brad August 6th, 2010 @ 10:05 am
    2:
    3: Qiang August 26th, 2010 @ 6:44 pm
    4:
    5: David August 5th, 2010 @ 3:22 pm
    6: Aileen Bodiwala August 5th, 2010 @ 1:20 pm
    7: Martin Vincent August 5th, 2010 @ 7:25 pm
    8: Michael Grievson August 5th, 2010 @ 8:43 am
    9: Josh August 5th, 2010 @ 8:51 am
    10: James Craxton August 5th, 2010 @ 11:05 am
    11: Bruce Hoult August 5th, 2010 @ 9:04 am
    12: thomas_b August 5th, 2010 @ 9:33 am
    13: Alonso4ever August 5th, 2010 @ 8:46 am
    14: Pulsegirl August 5th, 2010 @ 8:48 am
    15: Andrew August 5th, 2010 @ 9:42 am
    16: Chris Crawford August 5th, 2010 @ 9:02 am
    17:
    18:
    19:
    20:
    21:
    22:
    23: Frenchie August 5th, 2010 @ 8:48 am
    24:
    DNF: John Pinx August 5th, 2010 @ 8:35 am

    1. Bruce Hoult says:

      heh. I wasn’t sure if that comment was going to get approved :-)

      Also, despite listing it for completeness (and it was quite a popular choice), I don’t think DNF is a valid prediction, as the driver still gets a place from 1 – 24.

  9. Endre Friedmann says:

    As a supporter for Alonso, I was a bit deceived. In the latest seasons I have the feeling that in every challenging situation (e.g. weather, SC) he is always caught somehow.

    Kudos for all those that were right on the spot in such difficult conditions. I hope for a rainy race tomorrow and a great drive for Alonso.

  10. Patrick McLaughlin says:

    Hope the race is as enthralling and entertaining as that session today !

    James do you have any insight into who compromised optimium setup to hedge bets for a wet race tomorrow ?I have a feeling Alonso may have gambled on a wet race tomorrow.

    That aside M.Webber is really looking the real deal. This guy just gets better and better. Lap 1 Webber V Hamilton v Kubica is a mouthwatering prospect. Cannot wait !

    The outcome is too difficult to call. If it is variable conditions do not write off Jenson.

  11. Ben Miller says:

    Rightfully a lot of credit to go to Webber and Hamilton today but Kubica is hugely impressive. Not just today but for the whole season, rarely makes a mistake, wrings the absolute maximum from the Renault race after race. Great qualifier, top racecraft, ice cool and very close to driver of the season for me. I wonder where he might be right now championship wise if he was in the RB6.

    Waterproofs packed and i’m now off to Spa … hopefully with a bit of help from the heavens Alonso can pull his finger out tomorrow.

  12. d.h. says:

    Its all setup for a classic Belgium grand prix. I fully expect Lewis to get a good tow of webber after eau rouge and get in front before the first chicane. what happens after will all depend on weather. the mclaren is fast enough to cope with the red bull t2 performance.

    its also interesting that the focus has changed from flexi wings now that they have been approved to flexi floors and camera positions.

    1. mtb says:

      it could come down to the pit stops

  13. Trixie says:

    What a cracker qualifying session; what with rain, sunshine, overcast dark clouds, sun, then more spots of rain, adding to the excitement and uncertainty of how Spa grided up. The only missing ingredient is that Spa is not the same without Kimi in amongst the mix!

    In any case, Congratulations to the b’day boy on pole position, good job that Kubica ended on the clean side at P3, and well done to both Williams’ drivers!
    Let’s hope someone deserving will inherit Kimi’s crown tomorrow, even though Kimi will always be the King of Spa!

    1. terryshep says:

      Kimi King of Spa? Ever heard of Jim Clark?

      1. mtb says:

        or M Schumacher for that matter!

      2. C Lin says:

        Yes, Kimi is the King of Spa.
        MS & JC had more wins but Kimi has higher percentage, 57% of wins based on the number of times he raced at Spa.

        Kimi still the Spa Master!
        Now we wait for the next King.

      3. David says:

        I second Jim Clark. Kimi is a great driver, but Clark was in a very elite class.

      4. terryshep says:

        Hello, C. Lin, if we are getting into stats and percentages, what about miles covered? Spa was really Spa when Jim Clark won all those races, not this present truncated version, good as it is in comparison to about 15 of our current circuits. Yes, I’m pulling your leg, but don’t let statistics spoil our recollections of great drivers, of any era.

        Of course, Kimi is a great driver, I was and remain a fan of his and wish him well whatever he drives. Incidentally, for those who don’t follow World Rally, he had his first stage win last weekend at the German Rally, finishing 8th overall.

  14. F1 Novice says:

    Makes the Alonso / Massa thing look a bit stupid now

  15. JohnBt says:

    Raceday will be a new day all together. That’s Spa for you.

    Turn one will change the order of positions for tomorrow.

    As for Alonso, he was too slow for the top ten. Looks like wet set up.

    Kubica looks very strong for the race.

  16. nash says:

    If Alonso would be on a “more” wet weather set-up then why would Mclaren and Red Bull be on a drier weather set-up? They all have the same weather information for .. % of rain during the race.

    I could only see Alonso taking a gambling in last year’s Renault… nothing to loose, lets gamble on the oddest strategy.

    I think Ferrari just screwed up today.

    1. "for sure" says:

      You mean like Singapore ’08?

  17. Harvey Yates says:

    I have my doubts about everyone, or even anyone if it is a wet start, making it around the first corner. Still, here’s hoping.

    The RB wing has changed for this race, presumably for the new tests. Is that what is costing them domination of qually? If it wasn’t for their extra Q3 boost I doubt if Webber would be on the first row.

    Is Alonso on a wet set-up? His mid-sector times did not suggest massively high downforce but there has to be a reason for 10th.

    If he has then it is a big gamble given the Ferrari performance. Whilst the forcast is for periods of rain, it is hardly a given. It seems to me to be a very big risk at long odds. Does he think he will lose points at the WMSC meeting?

    What will be interesting is what happens when he comes up behind Massa. I feel sure things have been said and that there is unlikely to be such an overt ‘after you’ moment but the FIA will be watching.

    The in-car footage of Hamilton was thrilling. Absolutely terrifying. This circuit is what F1 is all about.

  18. type056 says:

    James
    why Massa`s rear wing was different whit Alonso`s wing

    1. Knuckles says:

      Hey type056, you may want to check this blog topic again – there is more info now in one of the first comment threads.

  19. Lilla My says:

    The F1 coverage where I live is quite bad and they don’t show or tell much, so could anyone please tell me what happeden to Alonso? I mean – if Massa was faster than Alonso by, let’s say 0.1-0.3 s, then I would say that Fernando simply had a bad day and was that much slower. But Alonso was over 1 sec. slower than Massa, so I think it can’t be only up to him driving badly (or Felipe driving superbly). Did he make any mistake on his first flying lap in Q3 or was it due to old tyres he had (and then the rain that prevented him from improving even though he had new tyres)?

    1. James W says:

      The feeling was amongst the BBC commentators was that he slipped up on his first flying lap, which lead to his poor overall time. He’s been fast all weekend.

      1. Lilla My says:

        Thanks. It should be an exciting race. Can’t wait :)

  20. ronmon says:

    Let’s just hope that they have enough intermediates to run the race.
    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/86177

    The problem at Spa isn’t whether it rains or not, it’s that it often rains on only parts of the track. The dry sections absolutely shred the inters after a very few laps. If they run out and the track is still wet/dry the teams will have to choose between slicks and full wets. Neither choice is good.

    Bridgestone could come out of this looking very bad.

  21. Fausto Cunha says:

    Why would Alonso kisk a wet setup when nobody knows if the race will be wet. Why compromised quali for an unsure weather setup.
    For me it´s like he said, a first attempt on used tyres and a bad timing with some spots of rain in the second run.

    Lewis his so confident and so agressive, his amazing. His first run at quali 2 was brilliant and very brave!!
    Also his last try at quali 3 was amazing and brilliant he almost got pole and i think he deserved to be on pole.

    It´s like you said James, on a damp track specially not very wet the Mclarens look very confortable , specially Lewis.

  22. Malcom says:

    Great job from Lewis…..Hopefully a win is in the cards for tomorrow for Hamilton, and thankfully Alan Donnelly is nowhere to be found.

  23. Iorwg says:

    Will be very interesting to see what happens when Alonso finds himself running behind Massa again..

  24. Owen.C says:

    James I noticed the McLaren had a very distinct sound off throttle. Unlike any other car.

    I didn’t get a chance to hear the Mercedes team, but do you think the Mercedes engine now has the retarded ignition system?

    1. F1_Dave says:

      Mclaren have been running that system for 2-3 races, I know Ferrari & Renault have run it since Silverstone.

      The Renault system almost sounds like traction control used to but its when the drivers off throttle on turn in rather than on corner exit like TC.

      1. Owen.C says:

        Are you sure they’ve had it for that long? I’ve only heard it just now.

  25. AlexD says:

    Alonso. I read your comments after two Friday sessions, James and your opinion about Alonso being in absolute top form this weeks echoed with my thoughts about him. I told myself that there must be a visible sign, a difference that will make a top driver stand out and it must be shown in most challenging conditions and dramatic situations – I knew that qualifying will be tricky and I thought that this is where I expect Alonso to go far beyond obvious performance. He did not do that….

    Alonso is making too many mistakes this year…I do not know what is going on, but both Kimi and Alonso performed a lot better when they represented other teams. Whoever comes to Ferrari these days is sharing the same faith – too many mistakes….

  26. David says:

    I’m about to explain why I believe Alonso has a wet set-up:

    - Firstly, because he was losing lots of time to Massa in S1, which is mostly about top speed.
    - Secondly, because his top speed was, if I remember correctly, 311 km/h to Massa’s 319 km/h.
    - Thirdly, because if you looked at his rear wing, it was absolutely obvious that its angle was MUCH higher than Massa’s.
    - And lastly, because it was also Marc Gené’s guess, and the guy knows much more about Formula One than I do.

    Even when his gamble is likely to come out wrong, I think there is a reason for it – Alonso wasn’t happy with the way the car was behaving on the dry, as we saw in FP3 that his car had lots of oversteer. It seemed as if Ferrari couldn’t get more performance off their cars and either Alonso or the team decided to try a gamble. If it goes wrong, he might end up with very few points, but if it works, he can get an unexpected win. I guess that beats aiming for fifth place if the Ferrari cars were as uncompetitive on the dry as I already mentioned before.

  27. clairmcg says:

    First of all I’d just like to say how valuable I find this website. Have been lurking for a while now and find the articles and comments so interesting. It provides a whole new perspective on this sport.

    On todays qualifying I am sorry to say I missed it. It does how ever look like the race tomorrow is going to be a fascinating one. It’ll be interesting to see if Kubica can keep with Hamilton and Webber and maybe mix things up a bit.

    On another note is this the first time that the some of the new teams have made it out of quaily 1? I really can’t remember it happening before this season. I know the weather played a huge part on it but I still think that Heiki and Timo should be quite proud of themselves!

    1. Andy says:

      Heikki made it to Q2 in Malaysia, when Ferrari and McLaren failed to read the conditions properly.

  28. mattyd says:

    They say “the sun even shines on a dogs ass somedays”.
    Marks had sunburn on his ass all year and about time.

    Great Qualifying

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