Vettel on pole again after action-packed session

2011 Belgian GP qualifying

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

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
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 2’8.773
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2’9.566
21 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 2’11.601
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 2’11.616
23 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 2’13.077
24 Michael Schumacher Mercedes


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
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2’4.757
13 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2’5.150
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 2’7.349
15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2’7.777
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 2’8.106
17 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 2’8.354


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
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’48.730
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’49.376
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’50.256
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’50.552
6 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’50.773
7 Bruno Senna Renault 1’51.121
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’51.251
9 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’51.374
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’52.303

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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110 comments on Vettel on pole again after action-packed session

  1. Was JB actually called into the pits too early? He was behind Lewis and Lewis didn’t make it across the line before the flag dropped. The problem came because Jenson hadn’t known it was his last lap and was cooling his tyres.
    On a seperate note, if Maldonado deliberately cut into Hamilton, I’d support a black flag.
    Can’t wait for the race! :-)

    • Ilanin said on 27th August 2011, 14:38

      BBC reported a radio call, so yes, he was – and Button was originally ahead of Hamilton on track before he aborted his run.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th August 2011, 20:28

      yeah, he got a call about slowing down and getting in.

      A “misunderstandment” indeed. Costly for him, although at Spa he might be in with a chance. Didn’t he start about the same place in 2009 though when he and Lewis got taken out in that crash with Grosjean?

  2. M Sakr (@goham) said on 27th August 2011, 14:35

    Maldonado is mad. Nuff said.

  3. Bobby_B said on 27th August 2011, 14:36

    Brilliant pole by Vettel, when the chips are down and he has time he always pulls it out the bag. I think he almost certainly got a tow on Lewis as well so well done to him. Well deserved.
    Lewis as usual drove the wheels off his McLaren and almost made it, but the incident with Maldonado must almost certainly disqualify Maldonado. His move on Lewis was malicious, petty, extremely dangerous driving, and he deserves to be punished very severely. Let’s see if the steward agree with me . . .
    There is no place in racing for that kind of behavior.
    He is an idiot!

  4. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 27th August 2011, 14:38

    6 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’50.773

    WOW! Well done there! That’ll motivate Buemi xD!

  5. I feel sorry for Barrichello I really think those updates could have given him a shot at Q3 but his laps were ruined by traffic especially the last 1 due to Kovalainen

  6. f1geordie said on 27th August 2011, 14:40

    Even there was contact, not sure if the hamilton/maldonado incident was as dangerous as barichello/schumacher in hungary last year.

    • Icemangrins said on 27th August 2011, 14:59

      There is a fundamental difference between defending a position and deliberately running into someone. Of course, the incident in Hungary 2010 seemed scary due to the sheer speed. Pastor M took the matters personal and he is mad.

  7. mikeycool said on 27th August 2011, 14:40

    I’m not a Vettel fan to say the least, but you’ve got to hand it to him. Quali King

  8. Not British said on 27th August 2011, 14:43

    Guys, have you seen the incident or do you blame Maldonado just because Hamilton is British?
    Please, use your brain and look at that.

    • What Maldonado did was stupid, but in the end he didn’t change direction and Hamilton could brake as well as drive into Maldonado, he is as much to blame.

    • Simon said on 27th August 2011, 14:54

      What’s your take on it?

      I see Hamilton going to take a central line (the same line the drivers ahead of them are using), just as Maldonado moves from behind Hamilton to along side. Hamilton then changes his line to move closer to the barrier and avoid any contact.

      Maldonado then seems to pick a line from the centre that will take him back over to the left, meaning when Hamilton continues round the turn (to the right) he isn’t given any room.

      I’m not sure Maldonado intentionally went to “cut him off”, but given he moved quite close up along side him, he should not have been moving back over to the left in a right-hand turn.

    • David A said on 27th August 2011, 14:57

      Why do so many sh|tty videos say “HQ”?

      Anyway I want to see an onboard, but do still think Maldonado swiped Hamilton from that video.

  9. driftin said on 27th August 2011, 14:49

    Let’s not jump to the conclusion that Maldonado OR Hamilton did anything deliberately. Let’s wait until all the evidence is in and the stewards have made a decision before we make a calm assessment. There’s nothing worse than hot-heads jumping to massive conclusions and baying for blood.

  10. Klaas said on 27th August 2011, 14:50

    Oh look, Vettel’s domination in F1 is over :)

  11. Well…we all know the matter the most is tommorow result !! Pole doesnt mean anything….We all know mclaren and Ferraris are the faster car than Redbulls on raceday .

  12. mikeycool said on 27th August 2011, 15:06

    Heres hoping Mclarens new super drs wing can count for something tomorrow :)

  13. Daniel said on 27th August 2011, 16:24

    What happen to Alonso the greatest driver on the GRID? 8th and outqualified by Massa, terrible.

  14. Eastman said on 27th August 2011, 16:49

    Two very deliberate looking twitches towards Maldonado from Hamilton and yet it’s entirely the William’s driver’s fault? Hamilton has a history of brazen, often reckless driving. Punish both or neither.

  15. DaveW said on 27th August 2011, 18:12

    So, Schumacher’s wheel fell off and caused a wreck. If it’s a pit error, not a mechanical failure, will the team be penalized? Stewards have been consistently draconian on this issue.

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