Mark Webber and Red Bull took pole position for the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix in a Qualifying session played out in changing weather conditions as his fastest lap with around five minutes to go in the 3rd qualifying session held good as a bit of rain returned to prevent the others from upping it. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start on P2 with Renault’s Robert Kubica in P3.
Sebastian Vettel starts from P4 with Jenson Button on P5 and Felipe Massa P6, ahead of Rubens Barrichello P7, Adrian Sutil P8, Nico Hulkenberg P9 and Fernando Alonso rounding off the top ten. It was cruel on Ferrari as they got their cars round on track in the second-half of Q3 just as the rain started falling, which put paid to their hopes of overtaking the McLarens and at least be close to the Red Bulls.
Mercedes GP had a session to forget with neither driver making it into Q3 and their misery is compounded as Michael Schumacher has to serve a 10-place drop as a result of his brash move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary. Nico Rosberg has had a gearbox change and he cops a 5-place penalty on the grid.
Q1 got off to a frenetic start as all the drivers piled onto the track to set a timed lap before the rain started falling. With the track still wet at places from an earlier shower, Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was the first to suffer as he put two wheels on a wet kerb and spun off into the gravel trap. The session was red-flagged momentarily and when it resumed, all the remaining 23 cars went hammer and tongs into setting a timed lap, making it for a very interesting watch! As the rain started to peter off a bit, the intermediates came on and the times started a-tumbling. Lewis Hamilton was the early pace-setter but first Robert Kubica and then Nico Rosberg set the fastest times as Jarno Trulli, Kamui Kobayashi, Bruno Senna, Sakon Yamamoto, Pedro de la Rosa, Lucas di Grassi and Vitaly Petrov were the ones to drop out.
Q2 was played out on a drying track and many of the drivers went onto slicks and the softer compound tyres in search for the fastest times. Michael Schumacher was the early pace setter but was later usurped by Sebastian Vettel. But the McLarens showed their straight-line speed as first Jenson Button and then Hamilton sped up into taking the fastest time. As the track was drying out, the times started improving but at the end of it all, neither Mercedes’ drivers made the cut as Schumacher & Rosberg joined Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari & Sebastian Buemi, Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen and Virgin’s Timo Glock who dropped out from this session.
One can never predict the weather at Spa with accuracy so when five minutes had elapsed in the third session and Mark Webber had set the fastest time by then, other teams would have been excused to think that they can have another crack at beating the Red Bull’s time. But just as the cars finished their warm-up laps, with he two Ferraris at the head, the drizzle started and it was just enough to negate the slicks and prevent anyone from matching or beating Webber’s time. But Hamilton did manage to string together a lap that put him between Webber and Kubica, from where he can try to wrest back the Championship lead from Webber.
The Red Bulls have a clear advantage in the second section of the Spa circuit but the McLarens’ greater straight-line speed gives them an edge in the first and third sections and one expects to see a great battle between the Red Bulls, the McLarens and the Ferraris for the race win tomorrow. With weather also playing a part, it should make for an exciting race tomorrow.