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Vettel on pole in thrilling wet/dry qualifying session for Belgian GP
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Photo: Red Bull
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Aug 2011   |  2:12 pm GMT  |  116 comments

Sebastian Vettel took his ninth pole position of the season after one of the most exciting qualifying sessions for many years. He beat Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber to pole after a thrilling final run on the slick tyres on a damp track. It was quite a turnaround for the German who was slower than his team mate when the track was wet, but onto slicks he found a margin of 4/10ths of a second.

There were many surprises; Jaime Alguersuari was outstanding in the Toro Rosso in sixth place, Bruno Senna qualified seventh ahead of team mate Petrov and Fernando Alonso could manage only eighth, one second behind team mate Massa. Jenson Button was only 13th and Michael Schumacher starts from the back of the grid. Nico Rosberg again performed very well in fifth place, his highest grid slot since the Turkish GP.

“It was a difficult session,” said Vettel. “The circuit was surprisingly drying very quickly. I didn’t feel very comfortable to start with. In Q3 we were sure it was all down to the last lap. The last lap I tried to push as hard as I can. Tomorrow they say is dry but anything is possible.”

Webber said that he pushed too hard on his slicks too soon, so there wasn’t quite enough grip left on the final lap. Vettel’s judgement on this was very good.

With a track still wet enough to require intermediate tyres, rain was forecast for the start of qualifying, so most cars went out straight away on intermediates. Michael Schumacher went off in strange circumstances, a rear wheel detaching from his car and sending him into the barriers and out on his 20th anniversary in F1.

It was hard to judge when to be out on track, given that rain was due but hadn’t come when it was expected. Timing was everything. Both Lotus cars and Adrian Sutil were in the garage when the track was at its fastest, with about four minutes to go. The rain started falling hard about two minutes before the end of Q1. But Kovalainen still managed to find some time and got himself out of the drop zone, pushing Paul di Resta down to 18th. Force India had called him in believing that he was safely into Q2.

Team mate Adrian Sutil crashed his car early in Q2, making a mistake on the exit of Eau Rouge. The lap times were five seconds slower than in Q1 before the red flag came out. Alonso was in trouble not having set a time. He complained when the session was restarted that it was “impossible” with the traffic to get a clear run.

He managed to set the fastest time at the end of the session. The intermediates were lasting around five laps, but drivers had to be out on track at the end to get the fastest time. Jenson Button wasn’t and was eliminated, despite having a car which was a second a lap faster than his rivals in Q1. He was called in by his team, questioned the decision, but then accepted their decision. The team was wrong.

Bruno Senna was on track and got into the top ten. Of the midfielders Buemi, Alguersuari and Petrov were also safely into the top ten.

There was a curious incident between Hamilton and Maldonado, after the Briton pushed past the Venezuelan at the end of the fastest lap. Maldonado was eliminated. As they came out of La Source, Maldonado came alongside and went into him, damaging Hamilton’s wing. Close inspection of the replays shows Hamilton making two separate moves to the right, giving the stewards a difficult decision. Hamilton’s car was still being repaired when Q3 started.

“I was on the end of my Q2 lap, there were two Williams going very slow. I had to get past. As I exited Turn 1 I saw Maldonado close up and he went past me and swiped into me,” said Hamilton. Rival teams felt that Hamilton had his share of the blame for the incident, as the pair went up to see the stewards.

Most drivers went for slick tyres at the start of Q3, but Massa went off track, lacking heat in the tyres.

It was a thrilling Q3 session, as the track dried more and more drivers were finding that they were up to 2 seconds faster than their previous lap. Webber had the upper hand in the damp, but as the dry line increased, Vettel came to the fore.

BELGIAN GRAND PRIX, Spa Francorchamps, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m48.298s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m48.730s + 0.432
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m49.376s + 1.078
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.256s + 1.958
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.552s + 2.254
6. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m50.773s + 2.475
7. Bruno Senna Renault 1m51.121s + 2.823
8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m51.251s + 2.953
9. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m51.374s + 3.076
10. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m52.303s + 4.005

11. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 2m04.692s + 1.924
12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 2m04.757s + 1.989
13. Jenson Button McLaren 2m05.150s + 2.382
14. Rubens Barrichello Williams 2m07.349s + 4.581
15. Adrian Sutil Force India 2m07.777s + 5.009
16. Pastor Maldonado Williams 2m08.106s + 5.338
17. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 2m08.354s + 5.586

18. Paul di Resta Force India 2m07.758s + 5.945
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus 2m07.773s + 5.960
20. Timo Glock Virgin 2m09.566s + 7.753
21. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 2m11.601s + 9.788
22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 2m11.616s + 9.803
23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 2m13.077s + 11.264
24. Michael Schumacher Mercedes no time

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116 Comments
  1. OscarF1 says:

    It was a thrilling quali. Especially Q2 and Q3 but… somehow, I don’t agree in the interpretation of the crash between Hamilton and Maldonado
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4_-vA5jKjA
    Maybe it’s just me but I clearly see two moves of LH on PM.

    1. Steve says:

      Absolutely- Hamilton moved right, saw Maldonado, moved left, then moved right again, and drove into the side of Maldonado!

      1. CH1UNDA says:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uC8SOVCfuyw

        Very clear in this video Pastor is being very unsporstmanly. The drama begins at timeframe 0:30. The Colombian is passing Lewis at 0:33. Then he cuts in across Lewis at 0:34. The stewards have been very lenient to Pastor but i expected worse with Nigel on the panel.

        On this onboard of Hamilton’s carhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hHG3rPl5UM, Maldanado’s intentions are very suspect. I do not see what the reprimand was for.

      2. Anil says:

        Lewis was moving onto the racing line, realised Maldonado was there and moved back left, then when they were alongside each other, Maldonado deliberately turned left into him, instead of following the road right.

        One of the worst deliberate moves I’ve seen in F1.

      3. Jo Torrent says:

        IMO Petrov is the one to blame most because he started it but Hamilton reaction is stupid as well because he moved towards him just to tell him “don’t mess with me”

        The problem with Hamilton is the number of incidents he’s been involved in. Had it been Button, no1 would’ve criticized him even for a bad reaction, but with Hamilton you kind of expect it.

        But clearly the main culprit is Maldonado

    2. efi says:

      it’s just you

    3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      a) Hamilton stays on the right hand side of the track on the slowing down lap after the session had been stopped.

      b) Maldonado accelerates to level with Hamilton and make a swipe towards him to express his frustration with being owned by Hamilton on the previous lap.

      This incident is somewhat similar to that between Alonso and Petrov in Abu Dhabi 2010. The main difference is that Maldonado does not have the same level of skill and should avoid messing with the big boys.

      No doubt that Hugo Chavez will be condemning Hamilton in the next few days.

      1. Dave C says:

        That was Hamilton turning twice and yet just like Monaco he’s got away with it, absolute joke.
        Also the last lap incident at Silverstone when Hamilton went straight into the side of Massa he got away with, this idiot is a joke!

        But congratulations on another pole for the best driver Vettel.

      2. Sergio says:

        Good point.

    4. Canuck says:

      To me, it looks like Hamilton drives into Maldonado.
      Not the other way around.
      Looks like Maldonado speeds to get beside him and then Hamilton turns left.

      Now, looking beyond this incident: Why is it that everytime there is controversy, Hamilton is right there in the mix?

      In my life, when someone is constantly in trouble you have to start wondering about them…

      1. Canuck says:

        I meant turns right.

      2. Speedsailor says:

        were you looking at the same footage?

        Look at Hamilton’s on-board footage. At no time did he swerve towards Maldonado. He took his hand off the wheel to gesticulate to Maldonado but the wheel didn’t turn. That was the point when the collision happened.

        It’s a little strange to be saying Hamilton is always in trouble or colliding with other drivers. He is a jewel in the F1 crown. It would be a lesser experience without him.

      3. Simon Donald says:

        Exactly! I cannot see anything wrong done by Hamilton. He took the apex of the corner at the bus stop and then moved back when he saw Maldonado. Maldonado then drove straight not him. 100% Maldonado fault and I must admit for such a blatant act of unsportsmanlike behaviour I would have expected a DSQ or at least made to lose all his Q times!

      4. Douglas says:

        Had Maldonado not hit Hamilton, his momentum to the left would have probably carried him into the barrier. It was so obviously deliberate and daft and something you Might see in carting for kids under fourteen!

    5. Michael says:

      Bear in mind, that’s not really a straight – it’s a flat out, right hand corner, so the racing line goes from left to right. Drivers usually go all the way over to the right hand wall there. So Maldonado has placed himself on the inside of Hamilton’s car and should, like Lewis, be turning right, towards the apex. Instead he goes left.

      I see Lewis make two moves. First, there’s a little jiggle as he gets on the power out of the hairpin. Then he turns right, away form the outside edge, following the racing line.

      The two available camera angles are a bit distorting but Maldonado has all the space in the world to get past the cruising McLaren.

      Five places for this seems very generous. I’d love to hear Maldonado’s explanation for the line he took there. I simply don’t believe it wasn’t deliberate. But even if you can’t prove that, it’s still causing an avoidable accident and in non-racing conditions to boot.

      1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        Absolutely spot on.

      2. Sinkers says:

        VERY generous. His explanation was along the lines of the ” I drove alongside him and we touched” variety…

        Many incidents Hamilton has been involved in have been a bit 50/50 – this is not one of them.

        He may have moved right a little bit but that didn’t cause the incident. Maldonado drove into him.

        Those that think it’s the other way around seem to be looking at different footage to me, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard…

    6. Peter says:

      Its clear. Hamilton provoked Maldonado and he reacted stupidly. How many reprimand is one penalty???

    7. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      This is not the right angle to be looking at.

      You should be looking at how drivers are approaching the next corner which goes to the right. Maldonado clearly veers left off line to have a swipe at Hamilton.

    8. Mark V. says:

      Normally I do not jump to Hamilton’s defense but it looked to me like his moves back and forth were due to his uncertainty of what Maldonado was going to do (why was he so close?). Maldonado on the other hand had just been both eliminated from Q3 and humiliated by the pass (in qualifying no less)Hamilton had just made on him, so he probably wanted to vent somehow.

    9. OscarF1 says:

      In the footage Edward Mackenzie provides, it’s clear Hamilton is moving from the left hand side to the centre of the track (check how the nose of his car starts by the white marks and ends rather out of them).
      And, as he hits a bump (1st second in the video) you can see his steering wheel twitch a bit further to the right.
      I’m not saying Maldonado is absolutely innocent but, up to the point they make contact, he’s leaving LH plenty of room.

  2. Buemi was in the top ten with a few mins left, but was eliminated before the end of Q2.

    Senna did well, but not much better than Petrov… so, hard to tell where Heidfeld would have ended up.

    Really happy for Alguersuari… he was definitely on it today. That will put him in good stead with the Red Bull staff (but can easily be forgotten if he doesn’t follow it up – remember Hulkenberg?).

    Lastly, Vettel showed he’s the man today. Great car, but conditions like this show he’s super-talented. Impressive.

    1. Ron Colverson says:

      Senna did well?????? A bit better than that. His first qualifying session on Pirelli tyres and DRS, mixed weather, at SPA and he beats his non-rookie team mate? The man of qualifying for me, a brilliant job, and the perfect day for him.

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        I always mocked Bruno Senna & even if he won’t read it I wanna apologize to him for thinking he was as talented as Karun Chandhok.

        I would’ve eaten a humble pie but we don’t have it in Tunisia (luckily !)

      2. First off, the tires aren’t that massively different. Webber was saying at the beginning of the year that he was struggling, but that was to find the last tenth or two.

        Second, DRS isn’t a huge deal either. You can get 95% of the same effect by using it conservatively (i.e. only in a straight line, after you exit each corner – it’s no different than pressing the radio button, or choking the airbox on a two-stroke kart). It’s only getting that last 5% by engaging in earlier or holding it open through the fast corners where it gets tricky… again, that gives you that last tenth or two in most cases.

        Third, he’s had mixed weather experience before. He’s had a year of F1 (2010), so he’s not a rookie, and several years before that on the “ladder”.

        Fourth, in Q1, he was two tenths quicker than Petrov in drying conditions. In Q2, he was a full second down on Petrov. In Q3, Petrov made a mistake on his final lap. Therefore, he wasn’t massively ahead on pace over qualifying, and if Heidfeld was in the seat, it probably would have been a similar result.

        Don’t get me wrong, it was a great performance… but he didn’t set the world on fire or anything. If he’s half a second or a second ahead of Petrov in the dry on Sunday, then I’ll stand corrected.

      3. Mark V. says:

        That was cool to see. Makes you wonder how many other drivers are capable of doing well if given a car and half a chance.

    2. J says:

      Senna not doing that much better than Pettov? He outqualified the “faster” driver by 1.2 seconds despite doing only 1 Friday session prior to this all season…

      1. Read my reply above… remember, he drove all of 2010, and tested quite a bit with Honda ahead of 2009. He also tested a bit with Renault at the start of this year, along with the Friday session you mentioned. You don’t forget how to drive an F1 car.

        That goes in addition to him being a second slower than Petrov in Q2 and only being two tenths up in Q1. Petrov also slid wide on his fast lap in Q3. They are about even on pace, all taken into account.

        Massa was a second faster than Alonso… is he suddenly a sensation? No, it’s just changeable weather and these things happen. Same with Hulkenberg in Brazil last year. In conditions like that, you can be a few inches off the right line and you lose half a second… or the three cars ahead of you emptied a puddle and mostly dried it away, making that corner six tenths quicker for you than for the guy that is four places further up the road.

    3. Doc Ric says:

      Well, Senna was 1.3 secs faster than Petrov, that’s a lot! I was even wondering if the russian has a different set up (dry? wet?)

      A really fun qualifying all in all!

      1. Petrov was on pace to at least equal Senna’s time, but made a mistake in the last corner… Also see my replies above to other replies to my comment for more… :-)

    4. Simon Donald says:

      Plus he didn’t use the DRS for the whole of his lap. He would have had an even bigger gap to the Russian if he had!

  3. Sharp_Saw says:

    As I understand it, a possible exception for Schumacher to start the race will be based on his practice times should there be a 107% rule consideration.

    1. unoc12 says:

      It is 107% UNLESS the stewards deem otherwise.

      Given that the rules usually applies to 107% of the fastest car on hards vs the rest of softs and here everything was changing and everyone was on the same tyre, I think they will allow them.

      Schumacher didn’t make an error, is fast enough, a 7 time WDC, in the 4th fastest car in WCC terms, has a team mate who was well inside, etc… He will get through.

      The rest I think should.

  4. craig says:

    I am astonished by Maldonado reaction to being overtaken! I think at least one race ban is required.

  5. Peter says:

    As to the Lewis-Maldonando incident: If it was deliberate from Maldonado it was a stupid move. However just before that move I think Lewis moved slightly to the right without any reason it seemed. It will be interesting what judges say with more footage available to them.

    1. Sinkers says:

      Moving right did not cause the collision. Maldonado moving left into Hamilton did.

      And anyway what motive would Hamilton have to drive into Maldonado? None, he needs to compete in Q3.

      Whereas Maldonado had motive. He’s bound to say after the event that he didn’t have a problem with Hamilton’s move since that puts doubt in the mind of the stewards.

      It’s ridiculous in my mind that Hamilton got a reprimand for being partly liable for causing that collision. Maldonado had acres of space and Hamilton gets reprimanded for someone driving into him!

      Is it surprising that his body language indicated that he thought he might get a penalty? In this most clear cut of cases he is still held partially responsible!!

      Arghh!

  6. Ram says:

    NO love lost between Pastor and Hamilton … i think the Monaco incident was and is “still” playing in Pastor’s mind and when Lewis went past him … i think he lost it …. it is a dangerous sport and such actions would not be passed of lightly by the stewards … he probably could start from the end of the grid … as a consequence ….

  7. Jey says:

    Michael Schumacher went off!!??!! I thought I saw his rear right wheel separating and going ahead of him

    1. Chapor says:

      Well, after his wheel came of the car, he went of the track into the barriers. Not his fault by any means.

    2. tank says:

      Still quite upset about the incident, I mean it was just dodgy.

      Jock Clear still in the background with an axe to grind? Thought I saw him in the garage during practice ;P

      Seriously though, on such an auspicious occasion… I feel most for the spectators that went to the track to see Schumi. Hopefully they will be rewarded with a special race tomorrow.

  8. Jean-Christophe says:

    Hi James,
    Could it be that Hamilton’s tyres having less laps than Vettel’s and a probably damaged car the reason for such a gap with Vettel?

  9. Tonichi says:

    James, what happened to Alonso?

    1. Adelaide says:

      Ferrari’s Twitter: “Fernando had some traffic issue with Perez and he did not manage to do better than 8th”

      I think there’s more to it, though. Setup, maybe?

  10. Roddy says:

    Brilliant p7 for Senna. If he finishes 7th or 8th in the race there will be no way back for Heidfeld.
    Vettel for the win!!

    1. Dominic J says:

      If he comprehensively outperforms Petrov tomorrow and in Monza, should the Russian start worrying that Grosjean be brought in alongside Senna? Or is Grosjean not well-enough backed?

      1. That Russian money is hard to beat. ;-)

  11. Jon Cooper says:

    Poor old Schuey – felt for him when I saw the wheel had come off his 20th anniversary wagon!

    Gutted for JB, poor strategy call by the team letting him down again.

    Thumbs up to Hamilton for just getting on with the job. I’d like to see Maldonado’s race license being revoked for that swipe – such a dangerous thing to do, no matter what happened into the final corner (for what it’s worth, I saw it as a normal-yet-aggressive overtake by Hamilton).

    Tomorrow is going to be a fantastic race!

  12. goferet says:

    Anyway Vettel denies us pole again but am really happy about it, seeing as Spa doesn’t favour the pole guy, am rather happy that he has snatched defeat from the claws of victory. Funny how he & Lewis have the same time.

    So many people have impressed me during this classic qualifying session including Hamilton (damaged car & curing from a bug), Senna (despite expectations), Massa and Heikki.

    Now lets just hope the holy stewards do not penalize Vettel, Hamilton & Massa for setting fast times during the yellow flag though Mansell is a rather sensible bloke!

    As for Mclaren, surely it’s time they fired the entire strategy team (Plus Whitmarsh) for enough is enough – We have had ENOUGH ALREADY!

    Anyway my prediction for Sunday are:

    1st. Hamilton – Even though his chances for the race win look slim since he won it last year, I think Lewis will turn water into wine again because Ferrari & Mclaren have the best record at Spa

    2nd. Vettel – This is mainly because apart from Daddy Schumi in 2001 & 2002, the winner of this race doesn’t go on to win the WDC – You will have to go back as far as 1991 when the winner of Spa (Senna) won the WDC

    3rd. Massa – For some reason he tends to perform well at Spa

    P.s.

    I wonder when Horner will stop telling us fibs on how the Red Bull will struggle at Spa because of horse power deficiencies.

    Last year Webber had the same straight line speed as Hamilton

    1. Doc Ric says:

      Hey! Don’t forget about the Iceman, in 2007 he won in Spa and later went on to win the WDC :)

      1. Nop says:

        Don’t forget Schumi in 1995

    2. Mitchel says:

      That’s not right. King of Spa Kimi won the race and WDC in 2007. Not that long ago!

      1. Mitchel says:

        And, let’s be honest, Hamilton did win it 2008.

      2. irish con says:

        no he didnt. he broke the rules and got punished the way he should of been

  13. DonSimón says:

    WoW!! Maldonado is out of order, possibly ban I would say. Unsporting and dangerous, doesn’t matter what you think of what Lewis did at the end of his hotlap.

  14. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Just watched the biased commentary from Fox Sports South America. They believe it was an honest mistake!

    Absolutely disgusting behaviour from Maldonado…..a third rate petrol moneyed driver with no racecraft. He should be banned for the rest of the season.

    He should realise that Spa Francorchamps is not akin to the streets of Caracas and he should know better. This hotheadedness given latin america a bad name.

    Disgraceful.

  15. The Artful Codger says:

    Absolutely shocking behaviour/driving from Maldonado.

    Kudos to Senna though in what were no doubt very tricky conditions.

  16. Dabet M. says:

    Great qualifying session!
    It’s going to be entertaining to see JB and MS coming from the middle and back part of the grid. Amazing LH, BS and SV; great quali. Watch out for SP, all we are watching an amazing driver being born. And on PM, he must be disqualified.

  17. Bayan says:

    Did Michael go off? I thought his tire fell off on the straight right after eau rouge.

  18. Sergio says:

    The “curious incident” is the Stewards silence after replayed action. Well, that replay shows just the oppossite that Lewis has said.

  19. B says:

    Hamilton swerved twice in 2-3 seconds into Maldonado, watch the replays closely.

    British media in full throttle blaming the non-British driver, yet again.

    Pathetic.

    1. bones says:

      “British media in full throttle blaming the non-British driver, yet again”

      Spot on.

      1. James Allen says:

        Stewards did too, funny that

      2. bones says:

        He deserved the penalty,no questions about it,but Hamilton did not say in his line like he said during the press conference,and many from the british media don’t want to admit it.

      3. Sergio says:

        I agree with you James. F1 is funny but serious. You know how it works this business pal.

      4. Vin says:

        It sounds like partial blame to me, given the leniency of the punishment and the reprimand for Lewis.

        Others are commenting about 3 reprimands equalling a 10-grid place penalty, and that Lewis now has 3 reprimands.
        Are you able to clarify the accuracy of this?

      5. cjf says:

        The stewards put both drivers at fault, although Maldonado got a stiffer penalty. So far I’ve been unable to find any explanation for the stewards decisions and the disparity between the punishments.

        Any chance of a bit of info to provide some insight into their decisions?

      6. tank says:

        Look, if you want an example of bias the last time Mansell stewarded, just look at the penalty handed to Schumacher in Britain after the incident with Kobayashi, and then di Resta was allowed to continue after taking out Buemi.

        Come on, James.

  20. CJM says:

    So am I the only one who saw LH swerve towards PM – eliciting an immediate and retaliatory response from the latter? Nothing from the Stewards yet (as I type) but it’ll be interesting to see their reaction…

    1. Lexus says:

      I think you need to get an English dictionary preferably Oxford Edition and look up the meaning of “swerve”. When you do you might want to edit your post or visit spec savers.

      1. John says:

        Definition of swerve verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

        swerve VERB
        swɜːv swɜːrv
        [intransitive]
         
        (especially of a vehicle)
        to change direction suddenly, especially in order to avoid hitting somebody/something
        She swerved sharply to avoid a cyclist.
        The bus suddenly swerved into his path.
        The ball swerved into the net.
        swerve NOUN

        I believe his eyes are fine my friend.

  21. Richard says:

    I wonder what comes out of the Hamilton/Maldonado incident. In the replays you saw that Hamilton made a small move in the direction of Maldonado first who then reacted with a bigger move. I guess we will get the details later one, luckily the stewart will have access to all the data which also included steering movements if I’m correct.

  22. Spider says:

    Not sure what Maldonado was thinking. Surely he doesn’t just get a grid penalty but gets suspended from the race but not sure if the stewards can do this within the regs. Maldonado – This isn’t NASCAR!

  23. Thomas, Calgary says:

    Maldonado’s move on Hamilton was outrageous. He should receive a race ban.

    Hamilton did nothing wrong, beyond embarrass Maldonado at the bus stop.

  24. Hal says:

    Maldanado is either incompetent or vindictive. There was absolutely no reason to pass Hamilton and more to the point there was no reason other than wishing to wilfully damage Hamilton.

    Disgraceful.

  25. Robert Gunning says:

    James, do you know whether Alguersuari and Senna have gambled on a wet set-up, as you would not usually expect them to be quicker than Alonso’s Ferrari.

    1. F1Fan says:

      In the post qualifying press conference, both Vettel and Hamilton said that with parc ferme rules in effect, nowadays teams don’t really have a wet setup, unless they are absolutely sure it will be raining during the race. When it’s unpredictable,teams try to find the right balance with downforce levels, but basically it’s all a dry set up now…

      “Q. It sounds as though you are happier with the car in dry conditions. Have you actually set it up for the dry? Is it more for dry than it is for wet?
      SV: Not really. To be totally frank these days there is not really a wet set-up anymore. It is difficult, as from Saturday to Sunday you are not allowed to change anything. There are a couple of things that yes, if you could guarantee 100 per cent wet running, you would go for it, but it is not a massive change anyway. As I said yesterday and this morning, I wasn’t really happy but in qualifying, and then especially Q2, we seemed to pick up the pace, also in the wet. Yes, it was drying but also in those places where it was still damp I think for the first time this weekend we were very competitive. All in all, a bit last-minute. It is not easy when you don’t run that much but we got it back.”

      “Q. (Mike Doodson – Honorary) Lewis, at the end of Q2, in one of the snatches we got of you on TV, your car was bouncing quite a lot and producing sparks. Is that something to worry about, is the car perhaps set up more for the wet than the dry?
      LH: No, again, I think – just to repeat what Sebastian said – nowadays there’s not really a big difference between dry and wet set-up. I think in the past and in other categories you softened the car a lot more. As you go into qualifying nowadays, you can’t change between qualifying and the race and so you have to try and… the set-up is generally very, very similar from dry to wet. But I have no idea why it would be sparking. It’s either just too low or something’s hanging off, but I haven’t seen that.”

  26. Tom says:

    “I was on the end of my Q2 lap, there were two Williams going very slow. I had to get past.”

    While I make no defence for Maldonado’s behaviour, this is a great example of what Lewis still needs to learn. Both the Williams drivers in front of him had had their laps compromised, but didn’t force their way past the driver ahead.

    1. simon says:

      Where does it state that you cannot overtake during Qualifying, 100% legal pass from hamilton, maybe that’s the reason the williams drivers are where they are.

    2. adam says:

      No, if Hamilton hadn’t made the pass he would have been out in Q2 like them.

    3. Aey says:

      for Hamilton Move at the last corner . . He have to do so otherwise he will be out of top 10

      at the time Lewis did the last lap in Q2, his time is 12, if he didn’t try to pass at last corner, his best time will not good enough for Q3, . . . he has to pass to make up the time.

  27. Tim. says:

    James do you know if Alonso went for a different setup for Sunday…risking it all?

  28. Ian C. says:

    Watching a replay of the Hamilton Maldonado incident you can clearly see Hamilton moving right twice, just after Maldonado pulls out from behind him and just after Maldonado get the front third of his car ahead of Hamilton. Both looked responsible.

  29. AlexD says:

    THE DAY I MET SEBASTIAN VETTEL:
    It is slightly off-topic, but I just wanted to share this. I went to Croatia on vacations and just by pure accident had a pleasure to meet Bernie, Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel.
    Together with my friends we went to have a dinner in a small town called Trogir. We were looking for a restaurant and I was shocked to see Bernie Ecclestone – I could not believe my eyes. We went to the same restaurant and when Mr. E was going to pay the bill, I stopped him and we chatted a bit. We asked Sebastian to come over and he was kind enough to take a photo with us:-)
    He also thanked us in Polish – great humble chap:-) I am a Ferrari fan, but good luck to him…I think he will be the one to replace Alonso, when his Ferrari era will be over.
    Photo: http://alexd.smugmug.com/photos/i-BzvJWm2/0/M/i-BzvJWm2-M.jpg

    1. Peter C says:

      @AlexD

      Say, alex, is that you on the right?

      I have to ask “Do you like working out?”

      Maybe you haven’t seen that film, so you must have formed a wrong impression!

      Perhaps it’s you on the left.

      1. AlexD says:

        Haven’t seen the film, but the guy with muscles is my friend:-)

    2. Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing. Are you on twitter by any chance?

      1. AlexD says:

        Not really, this is too much for me – email and some forums is maximum I want to get in terms of push content:-)

  30. wendy says:

    I think Michael has to question whether there is sabotage on his car as it seems to me like there have been far too many strange breakages with his car only! Co-incidence that Jock Clear is back in the garage?

  31. Mario says:

    Great stuff from Senna, even more so because he has been standing on the side for so long, jumped in and done so well in difficult conditions.

    Fingers crossed for him tomorrow. Good boy!

    Senna and Kubica in Renault next year? Oooh, what a thought!

    1. Milton says:

      Hell yeah. That would be fantastic!

    2. Steve says:

      Petrov has a 2 year contract that includes next year, and he brought in plenty of $$$$

  32. NickBD says:

    Amazing seeing some people blame Lewis and the “British media” for this.

  33. Lez Martin says:

    5 place penalty for Maldonado, thats not much of a deterrent for the future is it, he should have been disqualified and given a 2 race ban, it was tantamount to throwing a punch!!!….

  34. JimmiC says:

    Re: The Hamilton/Maldonado incident; I think I’m seeing something else compared to many. I see Lewis ahead of Pastor and jinking slightly to his left to drive down the middle of the track, but then moving back to his right when he realises he has a car coming alongside him. Pastor then appears to try and drive him onto the grass – the very fact that he has two wheels on the grass having hit Hamilton when he has the rest of the track available to him suggests that he intended to give Hamilton a swipe (although he probably didn’t intend to hit him.)

    I’m surprised at how lenient the penalty is for Maldonado and that Hamilton was given a reprimand in the first place. I don’t see what he has done wrong in this incident.

  35. Glenn says:

    It seems Lewis got a reprimand and Pastor got a 5 grid penalty. I initially saw the incident (after the finish line) as all Pastor’s fault. The replays seem to show Lewis did his share to aid the incident too.
    Great result for RBR on a circuit they weren’t expected to do well at. Congrats to Seb, by far the best qualifier in the field. Great result for Lewis too (with all that toe-in). Well done to Jenson too, 13th is a great result for the rain master.
    How long is it since we saw wheel banging in qualifying? Great stuff. This season just keeps getting better IMO. Bring on sunday.

    1. Peter C says:

      The sarcasm re. Button is misjudged. He explained in detail what happened to cause his Q2 cock up.

      What is worrying is McL’s inability to have the right strategy for BOTH their cars at the same time.

  36. emphide says:

    I’ve got the feeling JB will smash Hamilton tomorrow. Same thing for Kobayashi

  37. Komieko says:

    The steward decision should have been to ban Maldonado. It is clear that he tried to damage Lewis’s car. A five place grid penalty does not do it for me. The session had finished, Maldonado had no reason to be alongside Hamilton at that point anyway. All those seeing moves from Hamilton and adjudicating that Hamilton should be punished also, I question your integrity. This was the last straw for me.

  38. Aey says:

    for Hamilton Move at the last corner . . He have to do so otherwise he will be out of top 10

    at the time Lewis did the last lap in Q2, his time is 12, if he didn’t try to pass at last corner, his best time will not good enough for Q3, . . . he has to pass to make the timne.

  39. Chris Q says:

    James, now that we’ve seen the onboard footage the penalties handed out seem very hard to understand. A 5 grid slot drop is trivial punishment for what I’d call violent conduct on the race track. Can you explain the thinking behind it? Did they simply believe it was accidental?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m surprised too. Seems very lenient

    2. Michael S says:

      I too watched it and it seemed to me they both should be blamed… Hamilton did not look innocent at all

  40. Alberto Dietz says:

    Tomorrow: ElFraud owned, part II.

  41. paulusa says:

    It’s hard to believe that anyone can see Hamilton as completely innocent in this incident.

    1. Nando says:

      It’s the difference between wagging your finger at someone and hitting them with a baseball bat.

      1. paulusa says:

        Without a doubt, but it’s still disingenuous.

        Alonso looking good though!

  42. Michael S says:

    Great pole by Vettel…. It was a tricky day to say the least and he and Hamilton really walked the field nicely

  43. Nigel (USA) says:

    Notice how all that stupid pre-season talk about artificial rain has gone away?

  44. Don’t forget the racing line dictates that drivers will exit La Source over on the left side of the track and then drift to the right before Eau Rouge.

    It would be perfectly natural for Hamilton to want to move across, whereas Maldonado had no good reason to move to the left and that’s probably the first thing the stewards threw at him.

  45. philips says:

    What’s the point of having the 107% rule if it’s not going to be enforced?

    HRT didn’t qaulify, they shouldn’t start the race

  46. Great great first proper qualifying session for Bruno Senna. I was really amazed how he performed under pressure at the end of Q2. Well done.
    I sincerely hope he keeps the Renault seat in Singapore despite Grosjean wrapping the title in GP2.

    Very solid performances by Jaime Alguersuari, Sergio Perez and Heikki Kovalainen.

    Excellent qualifying session thanks to changeable conditions. Maybe we should have grands prix only in place where there is a possibility of rain?

  47. Jo Torrent says:

    Few remarks :
    *************

    - Ferrari & heating issues : a never ending issue

    - Massa outqualified Alonso for the 2nd consecutive race but No1 seems to care

    - McLaren has a habit of outsmarting themselves in qualies this year costing Button a quali podium

    - Bruno is indeed a Senna

    - Spa is no longer a great track : The downforce has transformed EauRouge and Blanchimont into flat out corners, formerly the 2 best corners of the cicruit.

  48. JohnBt says:

    Nando is 8th, Jenson is very disappointed, bad quali for Shumi….come raceday there will be fights and lotsa changes.
    I LIKE!

  49. Jay West says:

    Great driving on the part of Senna! Best of luck to him! Perez looking good too – Ferrari seat 2013 looking increasingly realistic

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