The Formula One season is back after its summer break and the second half of the season started off in earnest at the much loved Spa Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix. And it was Jenson Button who scored his first pole position for McLaren and his first since 2009 as he clocked the fastest qualifying time in Q3. Starting from P2 on the grid would be the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi with the Williams of Pastor Maldonado in P3.
Race favourite and four-time winner Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest ahead of Sergio Perez in fifth and Fernando Alonso on sixth. Red Bull’s Mark Webber was seventh fastest but will drop down five places due to a gearbox change. Lewis Hamilton was eighth, Romain Grosjean ninth and Paul Di Resta tenth.
With Friday’s practice sessions affected by rain, most teams did not have enough mileage on the cars to get the perfect setup and Lotus, who were expected to run their upgraded DRS system opted not to do so. McLaren had to choose whether to run a new rear wing or not and in the end Jenson rode with it & Hamilton without. Other teams had tyre choice concerns as well as gearbox issues – Rosberg & Webber specifically.
A timing miscalculation meant Nico Rosberg was the first casualty of Q1 as he could not get in time to the start-finish line to start his flying lap and will drop down further down the grid due to a gearbox change and the ensuing five place penalty. Q2 saw Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Michael Schumacher & Felipe Massa failing to make the top ten alongside the two Toro Rossos and the Williams of Bruno Senna – though Vettel sneaks into the top ten due to Webber’s penalty.
Many people are tipping Lotus to finally grab a race victory and Kimi Raikkonen is in a good position to notch up another win at Spa but with Button determined to score a win of his own thus prevent being asked by McLaren to play a supporting role to Hamilton & Kobayashi in front of him on the grid, it doesn’t look much positive for the Finn. However, the start of the race could be crucial and the Lotus’ better tyre management could play into Kimi’s hands towards the latter part of the race. I wouldn’t rule out a strong finish from Alonso or Hamilton as well. Should be an exciting race to watch.