‘09 Belgian Grand Prix – Saturday Qualifying – Giancarlo Fisichella scores Force India’s first Pole Position

Giancarlo Fisichella scored Force India’s first-ever Pole position of their F1 career as he drove a superlative lap to take P1 at the Qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. It sure was a long time in coming and despite the steady improvements the team has been bringing into each of the last few races, no one expected a pole position for the team! Getting into Q2 and score points were their targets and they sure did better on the first one, can tomorrow’s race see them achieve their second target! I sure hope they do…

Toyota’s Jarno Trulli will start second on the grid as the Toyotas finally came good. So did the BMW’s who have Nick Heidfeld starting on P3. Rubens Barrichello will start fourth on the grid with Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen behind him. Timo Glock, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber & Nico Rosberg make up the top ten on the grid.

Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying

Q1 was a very good session for Force India as Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil were 1-2 atop the timesheets as the chequered flag fell and even though it was just the first session, it bode well for the team. A good way to impress the bosses at Ferrari since Fisichella’s being rumoured to fill-in for Felipe Massa for the last five races of the season! Luca Badoer again propped up the rear of the grid and to add insult to injury, he span out on his last flying lap and that was that! The ones to be relegated were Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Algersuari, Kazuki Nakajima, Romain Grosjean and Luca Badoer. Fernando Alonso escaped relegation by the skin of his teeth as he made a mistake on his flying lap and just scraped through another run just as the flag fell and so did Hamilton, who was teetering on 15th and must be thanking the heavens that no one went any faster!

The Toyotas of Jarno Trulli & Timo Glock and the lone Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen were the early pace setters in fastest session – Q2, and the times had already tumbled into the 1 Min 44s zone, which was way quicker than the previous years’, which speaks a lot about how fast – and how close – the cars have been this season. Giancarlo Fisichella nailed yet another fast lap in Q2 and was P1 for a while but the session finished with Trulli on top of the timesheets. The drop zone included some surprising names as Championship leader Jenson Button joined past champions Fernando Alonso & Lewis Hamilton in getting knocked out of the session. Adrian Sutil could only manage 11th fastest and Heikki Kovalainen finished 15th.

Q3 started with two Toyotas & two BMWs in there with neither of the McLarens nor the Renaults taking part, amply highlighting the surprising nature of the Spa circuit. Raikkonen laid down the early marker for the session and it was clear that the correct tyre choice was on the mind of many of the drivers as they all trooped back to change them after just one in-lap. The harder compound of tyre seemed to be the choice for many of them and as they started getting to their optimum temperature, the times started to get better. Nick Heidfeld and Jarno Trulli were P1 and P2 for a while and were looking pretty…until Giancarlo Fisichella came up with a blitzkrieg of a lap, timed at 1 Min 46.3s.

Championship leader Jenson Button could only manage 14th fastest and he might take some solace in the fact that the Red Bulls were not too far in front. The Spa track is favourable to the Red Bulls but they didn’t have the best of the starts to the weekend as close on the heels of the engine bust up of Sebastian Vettel at Valencia, came the news that Mark Webber also blew his one and had to put in a new one before the start of qualifying. McLaren also must be disappointed not to make into Q1 and looks like they’re losing big time in the aerodynamically demanding second sector of the track. Tomorrow’s race will be a long and hard one and one can never discount rain at Spa, making it all the more exciting. Here’s hoping that Fisichella goes on to translate that first pole position into a victory (or at least points/podium). Bring.It.On.

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