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Qualifying highlights - Belgium 2013 - The weather mixes up the sessions but not the grid

Published by Christine

Webber's troubled Saturday
Credit: Thompson/Getty

There was always going to be rain during one of the sessions in Belgium, and so far it has hit a practice and now qualifying. With the showers arriving for the start of Q1 and the end of Q3, the crucial grid positions were most affected. There was time for some of the backmarkers to finally make an impression on a Saturday session, leaving the midfield teams floundering.

However, the top ten looked set for a surprise as the second bout of rain moved in, and with it came a unique and fascinating session. Relive each lap again, or catch up with anything you missed, with these Factbyte Factbox highlights for qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

As it happened: Belgium 2013 - Qualifying

Event Highlights

  • Lewis Hamilton secures fourth pole position in a row in mixed conditions at Spa
  • Red Bull line up third and fourth, with Lotus and Ferrari at the wrong end of the top ten
  • Paul di Resta narrowly misses out on pole position after strategy call, takes 5th
  • Both Marussia drivers and Giedo van der Garde get through to Q2 after good tyre strategy
  • The Toro Rosso and Williams drivers drop out of qualifying in the first session
  • 12:30

    Hello F1 friends! How the devil are you? It's been an age, but we're back in action - this is the Factbyte Factbox covering qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix!

  • 12:31

    Spa-Francorchamps is a fab track to bring us back from the summer break, we've already had a taster of rain and spins and tyre problems and more!

  • 12:31

    So far this weekend, Sebastian Vettel has led two of the free practice sessions, with Fernando Alonso close behind in those, and on top for one of them.

  • 12:31

    TweetTweet from @mikeycollier: With 1 second separating the top 15 drivers qualification will be particularly close..rain forecast which will spice things up even more

  • 12:32

    There have been just three different polesitters so far this season, I'm hoping for someone new this weekend!

  • 12:33
    2013 Pole Positions
    1L Hamilton4
    2S Vettel3
    3N Rosberg3
  • 12:34

    Hard and medium tyresThe track is super fast and hard on the rubber, so Pirelli have opted to bring the hard and medium compounds this weekend. The hard tyres don't appear very often, nice to see a splash of orange here and there.

    Of course, we could see the return of blue and green, if the forecast rain does arrive.

  • 12:35

    The Williams team are hard at work prepping their cars for qualifying, via @dickiestanford. They scored a single point at the last race, their first of the season. Could there be more on the cars this weekend?

  • 12:37
    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1F Alonso1:55.198
    Free Practice 2S Vettel1:49.331
    Free Practice 3S Vettel1:48.327
  • 12:38

    Pole position last year was set by Jenson Button in the McLaren with a 1:47.573. He went on to win the race, something he admits will be difficult to repeat this year.

  • 12:38

    TweetTweet from @f1elvis: Work still going on with Jenson's car, team have changed floor and rear wing ahead of qualifying and the race.

  • 12:39

    The weather forecasts are suggesting the rain could hit in about twenty minutes. Which is precisely when qualifying starts.

  • 12:42

    TweetTweet from @SkyNewsWeather: Complex weather system over Belgium will bring rain today, but may allow drier conditions for the race tomorrow.

  • 12:44

    QuoteInterview with Ross Brawn: "We target every race, Red Bull look strong here. They have had some difficulties in the past but it doesn't look like they're suffering from them this year. This morning, almost all the whole field was separated by a second, so I suspect qualifying certainly is going to be very close, and I think the race will be very close."

  • 12:45

    Fifteen minutes left on the clock before qualifying gets underway.

  • 12:48

    TweetTweet from @F1onNBCSports: FIA race control: "Risk of rain for this session is 100%"

  • 12:51

    The umbrellas are going up, the ponchos going on, the rain is coming down. A weather forecast that came true, albeit ten minutes early.

  • 12:57

    Williams and Toro Rosso send their drivers to the end of the pit lane, waiting at the red light for the start of the session.

  • 12:58



    Wind speed1.3mps

    This has officially been declared a wet session.

  • 12:59

    There are intermediate tyres on those cars that have left the garage so far. Inters are a good way to go to get a feel for the wet surface.

  • 12:59

    Team radioTeam radio to Pastor Maldonado: "Get a lap on the board, and we'll just have to see how the weather goes after that. Get a lap on the board and look after the tyres."

  • 13:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 13:00

    The two Marussia drivers are out early, as well as Charles Pic and Lewis Hamilton.

  • 13:01

    Two minutes in and all 22 drivers are out on track.

  • 13:02

    Even Vettel, famous for leaving it to the last minute, is out on track with those intermediate tyres.

  • 13:02

    On the home straight, it doesn't look too damp, just a little bit of spray thrown up as Maldonado starts his first flying lap.

  • 13:03

    Of course, this is Spa and one part of the track can be bone dry, with another sector flooded. Maldonado goes wide at Les Combes as the surface gets slippery.

  • 13:04

    Hamilton has found himself stuck behind a couple of Marussias, having to find his way past to get some clear air. He's dispatched one, but another red and black car is making life tricky.

  • 13:05

    Despite the hold-up, Hamilton still crosses the line for the fastest time so far - a 2:07.008. Rosberg behind him had clear air and shaved about two tenths off that to move into P1.

  • 13:06

    QuoteComment from Journeyer: "I think we may end up with Q3 times set on inters, which would give them free tyre choice on the grid tomorrow."

  • 13:06

    Team radioTeam radio to Hamilton: "We expect the weather conditions to keep improving so we want to look after these tyres to the end of the session."

  • 13:07

    Sutil followed by one of the Saubers missed the final corner, following each other off and then back on track. It's very slippery there.

  • 13:07

    TweetTweet from @virtualstatman: Timo Glock advanced from a wet Q1 session at Belgium 2010. No Marussia/Virgin has reached Q2 in any race since then

  • 13:07

    We have 22 times on the board now, Rosberg still leads with Gutiérrez splitting the two Mercedes drivers.

  • 13:09

    The times are chopping and changing rapidly as the conditions improve, and drivers get a feel for the surface. We're also seeing a few missing the corners, Bianchi has been off track, and Hamilton also cuts a corner as he struggles to keep control.

  • 13:09

    Vettel and Webber have moved up to the top of the timesheets, we're now looking at laptimes of 2:06.279.

  • 13:10

    McLaren radio informs Pérez that the first and last sectors are about right for dry tyres, it's just the middle sector that's holding them up.

  • 13:10

    Vettel's radio poses the dilemma - a new set of inters or changing to slick tyres? The current champion reckons inters are still the way to go.

  • 13:11

    Both Red Bull drivers have returned to the pit lane, the remaining 20 drivers still out on track.

  • 13:11

    There are just under nine minutes remaining of the session.

  • 13:12

    The drop zone currently features the expected four drivers plus Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado.

  • 13:13

    Now we're seeing more drivers dive into the pit lane. It's time to make a choice!

  • 13:13

    Rosberg has returned to P1 with a 2:03.883, Hamilton sits second, with Kimi and Alonso behind them.

  • 13:13

    Kimi Räikkönen's been asked what tyres he would like for the final stint, and he's requesting intermediate tyres too. it must still be quite slippery out there.

  • 13:13

    TweetTweet from @radarguruf1: #F1 radar update 14:13 CET: Small band now cleared #Spa to the north. No more rain expected before the end of the session #dryingout

  • 13:14

    Manic in the pit lane as cars pour in, mechanics change tyres, and cars are pushed this way and that.

  • 13:15

    With the times dropping rapidly, the bottom four are falling in and out of the 107%. It looks like Chilton has just fallen out of it but he's on a lap now - and it looks like he's on slicks.

  • 13:16

    Van der Garde is also on the slicks, medium compound on the green car. It looks a bit of a handful through the wetter sections, but where there's a dry line it could be a good choice.

  • 13:17

    Three minutes left.

  • 13:18

    Pastor Maldonado goes fastest with a 2:03.072, but that could be much too soon as the track continues to evolve.

  • 13:18

    Di Resta and Bottas in the drop zone but both are on better laps at the moment.

  • 13:18

    Massa complains about some traffic but gets the reply that everyone is on track. What can you do?

  • 13:19

    Di Resta goes fastest, Pérez behind, this order is going to change massively over the next minute.

  • 13:19

    Van der Garde improves to 13th but has the big guns behind him, so that's unlikely to last long.

  • 13:20

    Alonso and Massa are down in the drop zone... not for long, I'd imagine.

  • 13:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 13:20

    Anyone on a lap can finish it, as Hamilton does, crossing the line for P1 at the moment.

  • 13:20

    Replays show Pérez getting held up by the Caterham of Van der Garde.

  • 13:21

    A brief yellow flag as Paul di Resta runs off track, he rejoins right into the path of a Marussia, bit dangerous there.

  • 13:21

    The yellow flags clear just in time for the Ferraris to sweep past, Alonso moves up to P1, Massa settles for 6th.

  • 13:21

    Bianchi has improved up to 11th, Van der Garde up to 3rd!

  • 13:22

    That's an incredible qualifying session, the slicks gamble didn't look like it was going to pay off, and then it did! Three of the four backmarkers going through!

  • 13:23
    Qualifying Position
    17P MaldonadoWilliams
    18JE VergneToro Rosso
    19D RicciardoToro Rosso
    20V BottasWilliams
    21E GutiérrezSauber
    22C PicCaterham
  • 13:24

    The fastest three in that session were Alonso, Hamilton and... shocker, Van der Garde.

  • 13:24

    Pic dropped out because he was still on the intermediate tyres, presumably Caterham were splitting their strategy there.

  • 13:24

    TweetTweet from @MyCaterhamF1: OK.... P3 for @GvanderGarde in Q1. Unfortunately it's P22 for @Charles_Pic1 who was called to the weighbridge after run 1

  • 13:27

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 13:27

    No cars at the end of the pitlane this time out, teams taking a bit of time.

  • 13:27

    TweetTweet from @virtualstatman: The last time a @Marussia_F1Team reached Q2 was Belgium 2010 (as Virgin). Today they have BOTH cars in Q2 for 1st time in team history :)

  • 13:29

    Marussia send their cars out early, as well as a few others, Webber, Di Resta plus both Lotuses.

  • 13:30

    It looks like Webber and the two Ferraris are on the harder compound, with everyone else on the mediums.

  • 13:31

    We've got 13 cars out on track at the moment, with Vettel, Button and Rosberg still in the garage.

  • 13:31

    Hamilton has emerged with the hard compound on as well.

  • 13:32

    Hülkenberg has crossed the line for the first lap time of this session, with a 1:51.193 showing just how much the track has improved between sessions.

  • 13:32

    Mark Webber drops the time down to 1:50.128 with Kimi slotting into second place behind him.

  • 13:32

    Button heads out for his first lap time this session, as we see replays of Kimi locking up and running over the grass costing him some time.

  • 13:33

    Alonso is briefly fastest but dropped down immediately by Webber once more. Still no sign of Hamilton or Vettel.

  • 13:35



    Wind speed3.3mps

    We're back to an officially dry track now.

  • 13:35

    The Marussia pair return to the garage, as Hamilton and Vettel head out for the first time. Both appear to be on the medium compounds.

  • 13:36

    Kimi Räikkönen has improved the benchmark to 1:49.323 with teammate Romain Grosjean sitting second behind him, half a second off the pace.

  • 13:37

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: 6min remaining in Q2. two timed laps for #Hulk in this session. P10 at the moment. 1.6 behind P1.

  • 13:38

    Something didn't go well for Nico Rosberg there, his time is 12 seconds off the pace, six seconds behind Jules Bianchi.

  • 13:38

    Hamilton jumps up to P2 on his first lap, splitting the two Lotus drivers.

  • 13:39

    Vettel improves to P1 with his first lap. All 16 drivers now have a laptime on the board.

  • 13:39

    The drop zone features Pérez, Hülkenberg, van der Garde, Chilton, Bianchi and Rosberg - who has just gone back into the pits.

  • 13:40

    All the cars are on the medium tyres now, and everyone has emerged for a final attempt, just under two minutes to go.

  • 13:41

    Webber jumps his teammate for P1, and then Alonso drops him down by taking P1 with a 1:48.309.

  • 13:41

    Van der Garde is back in the pit lane now, he's currently 13th and obviously thinks he can't improve from there.

  • 13:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 13:42

    Sergio Pérez when he was heading out, he's just crossed the line for seventh. Pic via @McLarenF1.

  • 13:43

    Di Resta moves up to fourth, pushing Button into the drop zone alongside Massa. Räikkönen improves from ninth up to P1.

  • 13:44

    Rosberg finally manages to jump up to third. Both McLaren drivers were down in the drop zone briefly, but Button improves to fifth.

  • 13:44
    Qualifying Position
    11N HülkenbergSauber
    12A SutilForce India
    13S PérezMcLaren
    14G van der GardeCaterham
    15J BianchiMarussia
    16M ChiltonMarussia
  • 13:45

    The fastest three in that session were Räikkönen, Alonso and Rosberg.

  • 13:46

    Giedo is happy with his 14th place grid slot.

  • 13:50

    Webber leads a pack of drivers rolling slowly to the pit lane exit as the pack wait for the third session to begin.

  • 13:50

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 13:50

    There's rain on the horizon again, so all are heading out to get a banker lap in.

  • 13:50

    Only Paul di Resta is still in the garage for now.

  • 13:51

    "Slight rain in turn 14, 15, 16" is the information Rosberg gets.

  • 13:51

    Paul di Resta has emerged from the garage now, I think he has intermediate tyres on, different to all the others.

  • 13:52

    Team radioTeam radio from Vettel: "Pit for inters, pit for inters."

  • 13:52

    The cars all file back in to the pit lane again, intermediate tyres are ready and waiting for them.

  • 13:53

    Team radioTeam radio from Rosberg: "We need to get out as quick as possible."

  • 13:53

    Di Resta has been circling by himself, but Felipe Massa has joined him - the first driver to have a quick tyre change and return to the circuit.

  • 13:54

    Rosberg's hopes to get out quickly are for nought, as he is one of the last to emerge. All ten are out on track now though.

  • 13:55

    There's a bit of a wiggle as Di Resta hits a damp bit of kerb, but he's about to cross the line for the first time of the session - 2:02.332.

  • 13:56

    Kimi Räikkönen has been reminded he can use DRS - the rear wing system is enabled despite the damp conditions.

  • 13:57

    Felipe Massa is the next across the line, it's second for the Ferrari with a 2:04.059. It looks like the lap is slowing right down as the rain continues to fall.

  • 13:58

    Webber slips into third, Vettel fourth. Hamilton jumps both the Red Bulls for third.

  • 13:58

    Räikkönen struggles for his lap and takes seventh, with Alonso tenth. Grosjean managed to split the Red Bulls, whilst Button jumps up to fifth.

  • 14:00

    The rain has eased off. Massa returns to the pit lane, as the two Red Bull drivers try for another lap.

  • 14:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 14:00

    The track is getting quicker again, Rosberg jumps Di Resta to take P1 for now.

  • 14:01

    Räikkönen improved, pushed down by Grosjean and Button. Crucially still ahead of Alonso, but Vettel is about to cross the line for his final run.

  • 14:02

    Mark Webber goes fastest for now, with Vettel dropping him down.

  • 14:02

    And then it's Hamilton! Pole position for Hamilton, the last car across the line!

  • 14:02

    StopwatchPole position for Lewis Hamilton with a time of 2:01.012.

  • 14:04
    Qualifying Position
    1L HamiltonMercedes
    2S VettelRed Bull
    3M WebberRed Bull
    4N RosbergMercedes
    5P di RestaForce India
    6J ButtonMcLaren
    7R GrosjeanLotus
    8K RäikkönenLotus
    9F AlonsoFerrari
    10F MassaFerrari
  • 14:05
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:06

    QuoteInterview with a smiling Paul di Resta: "I thought the rain was going to stay, I've got to say it was quite a ballsy decision by myself. The team were saying we had to get out... we made the right choice, still the quickest point on the track but our car's just not that quick. I could see already it started to rain at one end and not the other. It was unfortunate but P5 is still good. When you make hairy decisions like that, you've got to accept it may work one day and not another day."

  • 14:09

    QuoteInterview with Jenson Button: "In the dry, we're relatively happy with the pace. In the wet conditions I think it was even better. I didn't expect for anyone to be going quicker at the end of qualifying... it's a pity we didn't get that extra lap in, I was P3 before the chequered flag, before those other guys came round.

    "It's been a tricky weekend for us trying to understand the car, we've run I don't know how many wings this weekend, it's all good information.

    "If it's changeable conditions, it's tricky for the whole of the top ten really as I think we've all run our supply of inters... I'll take the opportunity to burn a couple of laps on the tyres, P6 I'm happy with."

  • 14:10

    TweetTweet from @MauriceHamilton: Hard to recall the track conditions changing one way - and then back again - within minutes. Adding to the Spa legend. #F1

  • 14:11
    Field Spread
    1stL Hamilton2:01.012
    10thF Massa2:04.059
  • 14:11

    It's the fourth pole position in a row for Lewis Hamilton. So far only one has been converted to a victory.

  • 14:14

    QuoteInterview with Fernando Alonso: "I think it was the conditions a little bit have hurt us in Q3. In Q1with wet conditions, we were first. In Q2 with dry conditions we were second. I think the potential of the car was there. In the extra lap some cars did in Q3, I think they got lucky with the stopped rain. We were not maybe going to fight for pole, but for 5th, 6th position, I think we were okay.

    "Anything can happen here, Spa offers you big possibilities in terms of comeback, especially with the weather unpredictability. We need to think positive for the race, even in dry or wet conditions the car seems to perform well. If we manage to pass the people in front, we have the pace, we just need to think how."

  • 14:17

    QuotePress conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "It was obviously a good job by the time, I was just so surprised when I came across the line. When I started the lap, I saw on the screen I was about 7th or 8th and I was like oh my god, especially as it was raining more and then I went wide in turn one and my dash display usually tells you if you're up or down, it said I was three seconds down, then five seconds, then six seconds. I didn't understand what was going on in the lap but I just kept pushing. I could see I was catching Sebastian towards the end. What a blessing, I feel so fortunate to be up here.

    "I think generally I feel quite comfortable in changeable conditions, feel like I'm able to find the limits when the conditions are really on the edge and I just think in the middle, I pushed quite a lot in the middle sector, particularly as I thought I was down three seconds so I was really caning it, but the car's been good."

  • 14:17

    TweetTweet from @OfficialSF1Team: remember 2012. P2 + P4 for us and it ended all in the first corner. this time we start from P11 + P21 and it can't get worse than in 2012.

  • 14:18

    TweetTweet from @MyCaterhamF1: Fair to say that ending Q1 with @GvanderGarde in P3 was quite confusing for a few of us who thought VDG had disappeared from the laptimes..

  • 14:19

    Great qualifying session, a shame for Di Resta of course, but a difficult one to get right. Lots of strategy calls came out right, including that one, and of course the Caterham/Marussia tyre decision.

  • 14:21

    It was nice to have changeable conditions, although the front row of the grid is still dominated by those who have been there before. Räikkönen and Alonso have a lot of work to do from 8th and 9th.

  • 14:21

    There's yet more changeable weather on the horizon for tomorrow, so it should also be an exciting race where anything can happen. I hope you will be back here then, as the FBFB will be covering every single lap.

  • 14:21

    See you soon, fact fans!

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