Tweet from @radarguruf1: #F1 radar update 13:18 CET: Further showers coming in from the west, will arrive before the start of qualifying. Wet session expected.
There's pressure on a couple of guys through the field. Bruno Senna is back in the car, replacing Nick Heidfeld at Renault. Jérôme D'Ambrosio will need to entertain the crowds as this is his home race.
So far in Free Practice, Michael Schumacher and Mark Webber have been top of the times, with every session run on a damp track.
You can catch up with all the action from yesterday in just 60 seconds via F1Minute: https://sidepodcast.com/news/michael-schumacher-and-mark-webber-lead-damp-belgian-free-practice
Webber will also be in a good mood (maybe?) because he's been confirmed at Red Bull for next year and it's his birthday!
In third practice this morning, the Toro Rosso seemed to show improved pace in the wet which may help them in qualifying. They've struggled to get out of Q1 on occasion and will be hoping for more this weekend.
Vijay Mallya talks of Paul di Resta: "Paul is a wonderful guy, a very talented driver, gets along very well with everyone in the team. So is our test and reserve driver Nico Hülkenberg. Wonderful guys both of them, give us a lot of feedback, certainly assisted, along with Adrian, in helping development of the car."
More from Mallya: "We are proud of the fact that on a small budget we are punching well above our weight. I don't believe that money alone can buy performance... The entire crew [at Silverstone] are passionate about getting Force India ahead, we've succeeded in motivating them and clearly it's paying dividends now."
Full FP3 results are available here: https://sidepodcast.com/post/belgium-2011-free-practice-3-results
It's also notable that Ferrari didn't do very much running at all. 13 laps between them, and Fernando Alonso didn't set a time.
Tweet from @clubforce: Difficult to set targets after such a mixed bag of weather. But Q3 is definitely in our sights.
Martin Whitmarsh on how to get through a wet quali: "It'll be being on track at the right time, on the right tyres, the driver doing a good job to make sure we get through qualifying."
Adrian Sutil does the track walk with David Coulthard, talks of the resurfacing of the runoff at Turn 8: "It's not a dangerous corner and there's not even carpet here where you would get a bit of a penalty. Here you can just run wide, and it was a tricky corner to brake. Sometimes in a race, if you had a little lockup, you lose grip and you're in trouble."
Jérôme climbs in the car, ready to qualify.
Interview with Ross Brawn: "I think this is one of the tracks where it's the biggest differential between the best lap time in the wet and best lap time in the dry. So, it's a question of whether you compromise a little bit or if you commit one way or the other. I think for us, it's commit to a dry race because qualifying these days doesn't seem quite as essential as it used to be, with the drag reduction system and the tyre situation, I think our tendency would be to go more towards a dry setup."
Tweet from @MikeGascoyne: 6 mins to go, lightly raining at the moment
All the drivers are in their cars, tyre blankets on, waiting for the green light to go.
Five cars are waiting at the end of the pit lane, two Virgins, two Red Bulls and a Mercedes, with an HRT just joining the rear of the pack.
Actually, not Red Bulls, as Webber is the garage, they must be Toro Rossos.
Qualifying session 1 begins.
It is Alguersuari that leads the pack out, with Buemi behind. An onboard with Sébastien shows that spray is quite an issue at the moment.
Team radio to Alguersuari: "Rain is coming so we have to push now, Jaime, rain is coming."
Schumacher has crashed at Rivage.
Replays show Michael losing it in a straight line, no contact with anyone else. He spun into the barriers, slid down the length of the Armco. The rear right flew off and he came to a rest on the other side of the track in the gravel.
Team radio from Schumacher: "Boys, I don't know what happened there but it's something unexpected. I'm out."
Ted reports that Williams have only just finished changing the floor on Rubens Barrichello's car, so he'll be hustling to get out on track.
Schumacher out of the car after just a couple of minutes.
Track is clear.
With the first lap times finally pouring in, Lewis Hamilton sets the first benchmark - 2:09.506.
Behind him, Alonso slips into second, but Buemi is third, two seconds off their pace.
Tweet from @clubforce: Perfect conditions for intermediates. Track drying fast now.
Kovalainen had a quick off, no yellow flags caused, and he is still going.
Team radio to Rosberg: "We expect three to four laps before rain."
All pressure on Rosberg then, as Schumacher will start last. He's the big name falling out in Q1 then, unless something else unexpected happens.
Hamilton returns to the pitlane.
Webber has taken P1 for now, a 2:06.872, with Vettel and Sutil behind him.
A total difference of 11.006 seconds.
Hamilton's back out of the pitlane, all 23 cars are on track, hoping to get a lap in before the rain falls.
Team radio to Button: "Okay Jenson, we expect this session just to get drier and drier, we will need to be out on this set of tyres at the end of the session."
The track is developing a dry line in parts now, and spray is down to almost nothing. Webber continues to lead.
The Red Bull driver has dropped the times to 2:04, which Hamilton beats. Next place Sutil and Vettel are on 2:06s.
Hang on a moment, Sutil is up in third? Intriguing.
The 107% time could come into play today, it is currently 2:12.936 and would knock out both Virgin and HRT cars.
Heikki Kovalainen is way up in 12th at the moment.
The drop zone, along with Virgin and HRT, features Schumacher, Pérez and Petrov.
Just over five minutes to go, and the McLaren drivers drop times to 2:03, Hamilton ahead.
Both Force India drivers and Trulli come into the pitlane for a change of tyres.
Ted reports that Force India have put both drivers on a brand new set of intermediate tyres.
Glock pitted and Virgin have tweeted he took on new tyres and had a flap adjustment.
Jenson Button has jumped ahead of Hamilton, the top time now 2:01.813.
The 107% cutoff has dropped to 2:10 but still the two teams - Virgin and HRT - are outside of it.
Team radio from Button: "There's a dry line in a lot of places, but it's still wet through turn 4. These tyres are working pretty well at the moment."
Tweet from @autosportlive: Perez adds "scary moment at Blanchimont" to his list of experiences in his rookie year after an off over the kerbs at the rapid bend. #F1
It's changing quite quickly, but Button leads Webber, Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso. Buemi is doing well in 6th and Senna excellently in 7th.
Felipe Massa seems to be struggling down in 13th but he has pitted.
Kovalainen has dropped to 18th now, and the drop zone.
Paul di Resta has a spin at the final chicane, keeps it out of the barriers, and gets the car going again.
Qualifying session 1 ends.
Glock has managed to pull himself out of the 107% cutoff, but D'Ambrosio, Liuzzi and Ricciardo are all outside of it.
Kovalainen hit traffic, but improved to 16th, which dropped Paul di Resta into the drop zone.
|18||Paul di Resta||Force India|
Fastest in that session was Jenson Button with a 2:01.813, with Webber and Hamilton behind him.
Bruno Senna finished Q1 in the top ten, 7th compared to Vitaly Petrov's 9th. Good start for Renault.
Interview with Jérôme D'Ambrosio: "It's always a tough call in Spa, driving you're looking as much at the sky as the track, just trying to gamble to know if it's going to rain or not. Me and Timo had different strategies... In the end I'm satisfied with the qualifying, in the beginning I had good pace, and then it's down to the conditions."
Tweet from @byronf1: Paul di Resta misses the Q1 cut in 18th. Schuey starts from last for 20th anniversary race. Who would have guessed.
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Once again Alguersuari leads the pack out, followed by Buemi and then Petrov.
Jarno Trulli stands in the garage, ready to watch his teammate participate in Q2.
On screen graphics show Bruno Senna is on inters. I suspect most of them are.
Sixteen cars are out on track, just Heikki Kovalainen remains in the garage for now. Will he attempt a time?
Tweet from @autosportlive: Drivers will at least want to bank a laptime and the flying laps are now underway. #F1
Buemi sets the first benchmark, we're back to 2:09s now. Button immediately beats it with a 2:07.
Top five drivers on 2:07s, with next place Alonso on a 2:09. The Ferrari cars are struggling with their tyre temperatures again.
Kovalainen has left the garage, so he will attempt a time. Bravo.
Adrian Sutil has pulled off to the side of the track at the top of Eau Rouge. He's lost his front wing and rear tyres are wobbly.
Replays show he gets on the white line at the top of Eau Rouge which sent him into the barrier, session over.
That's somewhat embarrassing, given he was waxing lyrical about Eau Rouge during the track walk earlier.
The red flag comes out at 6:53.
Sutil spins out of Eau Rouge.
That is a pretty tough day for the Force India crew. Paul di Resta will start 18th, and Sutil isn't going to be able to improve on his 2:07 laptime. There's no saying where that will leave him on the grid yet though.
Damage to Sutil's car.
The drop zone as it stands features Alonso, Pérez, Senna, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Maldonado and Kovalainen.
Heikki is the only driver not to set a time yet.
The gap is 4.047 seconds.
Race Control: Session will restart at 14:41.
Tweet from @clubforce: Adrian loses the back end at the top of eau rouge. End of his qualy. Mainly damage to the nose.
Track is clear.
For the third time, Alguersuari leads Buemi out of the pitlane. The guy must think getting to the pitlane exit first is part of the race!
There was a massive queue of cars behind him though.
Team radio to Senna: "For your information, for the timings, we can't afford to do a slow lap in the middle. We need to push for the full three laps. The times are pretty tight."
Senna replies with a simple: "No problem."
Fernando Alonso gets on the radio complaining that the people in front are too slow and not letting him past so it is "impossible."
Just over four minutes to go.
Alonso starts his flying lap and the car won't turn into the first corner. He's really fighting that car at every step of the way, and it looks like a disaster.
Despite the cameras making it look like it's wetter than before, Hamilton is on the radio suggesting it is drier than before the red flag. It was raining a little during the stoppage.
Buemi has gone fastest, a 2:06.310, beaten by Alonso. The times must be about to drop massively.
Button puts in a 2:05, Webber a 2:04, Vettel a 2:03. Any advance on 03?
Just over one minute to go.
The drop zone features Senna, Hamilton, Sutil, Pérez, Maldonado, Barrichello and Kovalainen.
Kovalainen has set a time, but he is off the pace at the moment.
Lewis Hamilton needs to improve from 12th if he wants to get through to the next session.
Petrov was sitting above Senna for the first time in a while, but Senna improved to 6th.
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Heikki Kovalainen appeared to be holding up Barrichello and Maldonado, and as the train backed up Lewis Hamilton almost crashed into Maldonado to avoid and pass him.
Alonso is the only driver who really needs to improve, but waved yellows may put pay to that. Not sure what they are for.
Senna improves to 7th, Alonso jumps up to P1 and that drops Button out of qualifying!
There's me saying worry about Alonso. Huh.
Replays show Maldonado pulling alongside Hamilton and the pair colliding. It certainly looks like it was a deliberate move, retaliation, perhaps? Hamilton reports on the radio that it was definitely done deliberately.
McLaren have some work to do to fix up Hamilton's car, debris was flying off everywhere.
|12||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso|
|15||Adrian Sutil||Force India|
There are no good camera shots on this incident, but Maldonado pulled right alongside and then into the McLaren. It also sent the Williams into the barrier, but he was out of qualifying anyway, so probably not bothered.
McLaren are another team having a tough afternoon then. One car has been bashed around, and the other is out of qualifying after Button was told to pit so didn't get a chance at a final flying lap.
Qualifying session 3 begins.
No Toro Rosso waiting at the end of the pitlane! I am disappointed.
It is, in fact, Pérez who leads the way, and Fernando Alonso follows the Sauber out on track.
McLaren had Hamilton's engine roaring, making final tweaks, were about to send him out but told him to cut the engine.
Fernando Alonso is out on soft tyres - the harder of the two dry compounds.
Felipe Massa is also on the soft tyres but has gone off track into the gravel at the exit of Les Combes. He manages to continue though.
Vettel, Webber, Massa and Alonso are all confirmed on the soft tyres.
Tweet from @autosportlive: Nine drivers are on track and fighting to control their cars in an effort to get round and start a timed lap. #F1
Lewis Hamilton has left the garage and hits the track for a timed lap.
Meanwhile, Rosberg returns to the pitlane without setting a time yet.
Tweet from @OfficialLRGP: Dry and bright now in pitlane, but not quite bikini weather
Rosberg was on the inters and that explains his revisit to the pitlane. Dry tyres all round.
Pérez had pole position for about half a second, before Alonso followed him over the line. We're seeing much better laptimes now.
Webber jumps to P1 with a 1:53.798.
Just seen a shot of Webber's DRS working, now they are on the dry tyres. DRS is banned through Eau Rouge though, after Charlie Whiting deemed it a safety risk.
Pérez went to the top again! But again only for a second. Webber is P1 still, a 1:50.875.
Hamilton jumps up to P2, but is pushed down by Vettel.
Webber continues to leave with just under three minutes to go.
There are brief yellow flags appearing and disappearing. Someone may be running wide off track somewhere.
Webber is improving on his own time, 1.4 seconds ahead midway through. The track is just getting quicker and quicker.
Webber's new time - 1:49.376, just under 1.5 seconds faster than his previous pole lap.
Hamilton improves to second again, and Vettel jumps up to pole. They've all got one more lap to go.
Thirty seconds left for drivers to cross the line and try and get another lap.
Alguersuari improves to 4th, whilst Webber is closing up on Pérez and may struggle with traffic.
Qualifying session 3 ends.
Webber does not manage to improve on his second place time.
Hamilton crosses the line for pole but Vettel, just behind him, snatches pole by 4 tenths.
Senna improved to 7th, outqualifying Petrov who finished 10th.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|3||Mark Webber||Red Bull|
|6||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso|
Great job from Hamilton, despite his car being patched up just moments beforehand.
A very upset Jenson Button: "Misunderstanding. I obviously did my first lap and then I cooled the tyres, not knowing that I didn't have any more laps left. The track is getting drier and drier every lap. I was second or third quickest when I did my lap, then I didn't get an opportunity to do another lap. That's massively disappointing and a big shock. A misunderstanding and a mistake on our part... Tough being back in 13th but we've got to deal with it now."
Another driver disappointed with his team, Paul di Resta: "I made a small mistake the lap before, during that lap we were quite a bit quicker. The team chose to bring me in, saying we were safe and we should box. When I got back to the pits, they said, we hate to tell you this but someone's gone quicker. So they called me back to the pits, I'm not aware of the situation going on around me, I just do as I'm ordered. And when I came back, it obviously wasn't there. We chose to sit out the middle part of the session, with the conditions the best at the end. I was quite confident we could be much further up had that not happened."
Press Conference Quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It was a difficult session all in all. Q1 and 2 very difficult conditions. It's quite tricky on the inters so the main target was to get through. I didn't feel comfortable right in the beginning, but in Q2 we made a big step forward. I rediscovered Spa in a way, and found better lines than all weekend.
In Q3, obviously, we were quite sure it's dry tyres, but again quite sure if it doesn't start to rain it will be down to the last lap because the circuit will start to improve. Trying to make my way round, trying to get the temperature into the tyres. The last lap, in particular, I was trying to push as hard as I can. I think Lewis was right in front of me, I think I saw him locking up and the last thing you want is to lock up as well. It seemed to get quicker and quicker every lap. I'm very happy.
Not an easy session, and right after we finished it started to rain again."
Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "I was on the end of my Q2 lap and got to the chicane as I was just finishing and there was two Williams going very slow... I had to try and get past which I did. I lost quite a lot of time there, but as I was coming through the exit of turn one, I saw Maldonado approaching quite quickly. He came round me, I didn't move anywhere, and he happened to swipe past me... I'm just going to sit here and wait for the stewards to call me up.
The front wing was quite badly damaged, my sidepod and my front suspension was damaged. The guys did a great job to put it back together. I just think once the flag is out, there's no need to be racing. There should never ever be an incident and unfortunately there was."
Press Conference Quotes - Mark Webber: "It was a close session. I think I probably went a bit too hard on the slicks initially. You never know if the lap you're on is going to be the lap round here. I probably could have built up a little bit slower. To have a better un into the back part of the third and fourth lap. That's how it goes.
We've had a very smooth weekend, and it's very easy to end up like JB... out of position. We're in position. It would be nice to be further up but the guys did a good job up front. We're in the hunt tomorrow for the race."
Sebastian Vettel finishes off the press conference: "Even when it was wet I was starting to feel much better. We found direction and should be ready for tomorrow. It's a long race, and I'm looking forward to it."
Two races in a row that Massa has outqualified his teammate. Is the tide turning at Ferrari?
Tweet from @antdavidson: Just finished watching Vet's onboard lap in Q3. He really wanted that! Brilliant lap.
Alguersuari's many appearances at the end of the pitlane first seem to have worked in his favour. He outqualified his teammate today.
|Toro Rosso||Qualified Ahead|
It's probably also worth noting that Nick Heidfeld's qualifying battle with Petrov was 3-8 in Vitaly's favour. Senna has outqualified Petrov on his first attempt.
That brings us to the end of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. Vettel will not give up on pole position and Red Bull continue their stranglehold on that first gridslot. Webber might have hoped for more on his birthday, but third is good enough for now.
Alguersuari and Senna both impressed in qualifying today, whilst Alonso was visibly struggling to keep control of the wriggly Ferrari.
Disappointment for both Jenson Button and Paul di Resta who were screwed over by their team decisions. Hopefully they will have better luck tomorrow.
Towards the back of the grid, Maldonado will no doubt have a visit to the stewards pending, whilst the HRT cars and D'Ambrosio have fallen out of the 107% rule, although all are talking about being in the race tomorrow. Perhaps it doesn't count in the wet? Perhaps it doesn't count at all.
It should be a fascinating race. Weather predictions, for what they are worth, show light rain showers around the time the race is due to begin. It wouldn't be Spa without a bit of precipitation.
I will be back here at 12pm GMT+1 to build up to the race which will start at 1pm. Hopefully you can join me and together we'll enjoy the Belgian Grand Prix! See you then.
All content in the series Belgium 2011
Filed under Lap by lap coverage
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