Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Vettel on pole again after action-packed session

2011 Belgian GP qualifyingPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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

    1. 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.

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

    1. He’s faster than Webber at least.

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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

    1. 1 sec faster than his teammate and 4 tenths on 2nd? It sure is mate :)

      1. In a couple of laps finger boy will be looking at Lewis ass.

        1. Well, the one thing that isn’t just speculation is that Hamilton will be at least 60 points behind Vettel by the end of tomorrow’s race. That’s a result of “looking at Sebastian’s ass” for most of the season, if you will.

    2. he really seems to be like senna in qualis. incredible.
      and in races I think he is getting better and better…

  6. 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 .

    1. + Mercedes also has a faster car in straights. Nico has a good chance to finish in top 5

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

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. I don’t know how Heidfeld’d’ve performed, but Senna was great! I had doubts on him before today, but he looked easily ahead of Petrov for all the session.
    Alonso was a let down, Massa in 4th was a nice surprise as Ferrari had clearly the third fastest car. Nice battle between Vettel and Hamilton, not nice battle between Hamilton and Maldonado.
    Perez and Senna did well.
    Liuzzi beat once again Ricciardo, but in my opinion them and D’Ambrosio shouldn’t be allowed to race. After all, the track was dryer when they set their lap times, and they were outside the 107% margin on pure pace.
    Pity for Schumacher, he could’ve done well.

    1. nice “new” helmet Fixy! Fully agree with you about Senna, completely took me by supprise. Seems the Renault was doing better here, but I doubt Nick would have beaten Petrov here. And Massa did really well again to outqualify Alonso and show the cars pace.

      But I do think the HRT cars and D’Ambrosio should be allowed to race (and Schu). They kept it on the track, and the 107% are meant to keep disgracefully bad cars/drivers out, not minimize the field when they were being extra carefull in the wet.

  12. Vettel again showing he is the heir-apperent of Ayrton Senna, the master qualifying specialist bringing out his best at the last moment. it looked like webber and hamilton (and button until the tactical error in q2) would beat vettel, but vettel stepped up at the end to show them all how it is done. no doubt these consistent poles and a coming second championship is what is causing hamilton to keep making errors, he cant take that another driver is emulating Senna when he thinks he is entitled to that honour.

    1. :) Maybe. I believe both hamilton and alonso are a bit nervous about this vettel dominance. They should do what Schumi did in his days to beat Newey: work harder.

      1. Rather than simply work harder, maybe you mean: get Rory Byrne.

        As for an ‘heir-apparent of Ayrton Senna’, it could be argued that other qualities and attributes don’t suit this title.

  13. Congratulations to Senna, for who did not run is a great result. Who knows a grateful surprise!

  14. A great.Spa not only have great race but good qualifying as well.Feel bad for Schumacher & Button,I see nothing wrong with Hamilton in the flying lap.Good job by Senna.

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