A hectic qualifying session at Spa rain, crashes and two drivers coming to blows on the track.
But it didn’t stop Red Bull continuing their domination of qualifying, claiming their 12th pole position this year.
Sebastian Vettel heads Lewis Hamilton on the grid, despite Hamilton being hit by Pastor Maldonado during the session.
Qualifying began on a wet track and with more rain expected drivers were queueing up at the pit lane exit to get a lap in.
As the drivers went around on their first laps Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes suddenly speared off the track at the exit of Malmedy. A right-rear wheel had come off, sending him into the barriers and skidding onto the run-off at Rivage.
His car was recovered under yellow flags while drivers did their tentative first laps. Lewis Hamilton led the times initially before heading to the pits.
The Red Bull drivers took over at the top of the times, but Hamilton went fastest again when he returned to the track.
But it was Jenson Button who set the fastest time in Q1, lowering the best to 2’01.813.
Heikki Kovalainen capitalised on a mistake by Force India to claim a place in Q2 for Lotus. Paul di Resta spun at the chicane at the end of a lap, then was called into the pits by his team who felt his time was good enough to get him into Q2.
But Kovalainen beat di Resta’s time by a second despite running wide at Rivage as fresh rain fell.
Jerome d’Ambrosio and the two HRT drivers were both outside the 107% time, but are likely to receive dispensations due to the conditions.
Drivers eliminated in Q1
|18||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||2’7.758|
It got worse for Force India in Q2 as their sole remaining car crashed, causing a red flag.
Adrian Sutil had just gone fifth fastest when he lost the car at the top of Raidillon, clipping the barrier on the inside of the corner. That brought out the red flags with less than seven minutes remaining.
All 16 cars headed out as soon as Q2 resumed. In the middle of the pack was Fernando Alonso, 11th and needing to improve to reach the final ten. “It’s impossible” he told his team, unhappy at being stuck in traffic. But his first lap moved him up to second place.
Meanwhile it was all going wrong for McLaren. Hamilton fell to 11th place as the first set of drivers improved and he had to pick his way through traffic at the end of the lap. He squeezed past Pastor Maldonado at the final corner and set the fastest lap to secure his place in Q3.
But Maldonado took except to Hamilton’s driving and weaved into the side of the McLaren after they’d crossed the finishing line.
There was worse news for Jenson Button, however, who was called into the pits too early and wasn’t able to improve his time, leaving him 13th.
Drivers eliminated in Q2
|11||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||2’4.692|
|15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||2’7.777|
With no more rain falling, Q3 came down to who could find the most time using the slicks tyres on a drying track.
Webber led the way initially, setting and then lowering the fastest time. But he failed to improve with his last effort after catching Sergio Perez’s Sauber.
Behind him Hamilton, in his repaired McLaren, claimed the fastest time. But Vettel was just a few seconds behind and set a 1’48.298 to capture his ninth pole position of the season.
Felipe Massa out-qualified Fernando Alonso for the second race in a row, claiming fourth place. Nico Rosberg took fifth ahead of Jaime Alguersuari.
Bruno Senna was seventh on his debut in front of Alonso, Perez and Petrov.
Top ten in Q3
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’48.298|
|3||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’49.376|
|6||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’50.773|
2011 Belgian Grand Prix
- Rate the race result: 2011 Belgian Grand Prix
- In the Paddock Club and in the stands at Spa
- Leimer’s crash and in the pits at McLaren – fans’ videos from Spa
- 2011 Belgian Grand Prix: complete race review
- Vote for your Belgian GP driver of the weekend
- Red Bull: Newey relieved after “scariest race ever”
- McLaren: Button hit by debris in first-lap scare
- Ferrari: Harder tyres still the car’s weakness
- Mercedes: Schumacher climbs 19 places to fifth
- Renault: Petrov buoyed by R31 upgrades
Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty images