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. Fixy (@fixy) said on 27th August 2011, 18:16

    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.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th August 2011, 20:32

      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.

  2. dfektor said on 27th August 2011, 19:04

    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.

    • alex said on 28th August 2011, 0:19

      :) 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.

      • 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.

  3. Toni (@toni) said on 27th August 2011, 20:21

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

  4. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 28th August 2011, 4:24

    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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