Button and Kobayashi share front row at Spa

2012 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying

Jenson Button, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012Jenson Button took his first pole position since the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix after an emphatic display at Spa-Francorchamps.

Button took control of the session and was rarely threatened in Q2 and Q3. He duly clinched his first pole position for McLaren in his 50th race with the team.

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi will join him on the front row.


Fernando Alonso hit the top of the times to begin with, trading best sectors with Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren driver, running more downforce, was quicker through the middle sector, while Alonso was faster along the long straights in sectors one and two.

However Button beat both their times with his last effort, which proved to be a sign of things to come.

Practically every driver returned to the track for a final effort. Pastor Maldonado set the fastest time of Q1 when he returned to the track on medium tyres.

Nico Rosberg had made an early start to Q1 having lost almost all of his running during the sole dry practice session. But it was to no avail: he slipped into 18th place after Daniel Ricciardo improved at the end of the session.

The Mercedes driver crossed the start/finish line a few second too late to begin another lap. “We dropped off too much there,” said his engineer. “We dropped off over nine seconds so we missed the chequered flag.”

Romain Grosjean was fortunate to avoid elimination. The Lotus driver ended up 17th after being held up by Narain Karthikeyan on his final effort.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’50.181
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’51.739
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’51.967
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’52.336
22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’53.030
23 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’53.493
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’54.989


Sergio Perez was the first driver to head the times in Q2. A series of drivers edged the best time off him including Alonso and Hamilton.

However when Button took to the track he let rip with a 1’47.654, fastest of all in every second and over three-quarters of a second ahead of second-placed Raikkonen.

They were the only two drivers who did not return to the track for another effort in what proved to be an exciting shoot-out for the top ten places.

Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado claimed the last two places in the top ten, knocking out Nico Hulkenberg and Michael Schumacher.

But the biggest surprise was Vettel. He was tenth as the final laps begin but his final effort was only good enough for 11th place as he fell 0.012s short of Maldonado’s time.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’48.792
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’48.855
13 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’49.081
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’49.147
15 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’49.354
16 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’49.543
17 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’50.088


Button picked up where he left off as Q3 began, returning to the top of the times as he and Raikkonen were the first drivers to set laps.

But Hamilton, who had elected not to use McLaren’s new rear wing following practice, made a mistake at Rivage and aborted his first run.

Kamui Kobayashi led the drivers out as they began their final runs. He produced a 1’47.871 good enough for second place – and no one was able to take it off him.

Raikkonen complained of understeer on his last run and fell to fourth behind Maldonado. Perez made it two Saubers in the top five, lining up behind Raikkonen.

Alonso could only manage sixth, over seven-tenths of a second slower than Button. Webber claimed seventh but will drop back with a gearbox change penalty.

That will promote Hamilton who made another mistake at La Source at the beginning of his final run, and unusually ended up well behind his team mate.

Top ten in Q3

1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’47.573
2 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’47.871
3 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’47.893
4 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’48.205
5 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’48.219
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’48.313
7 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’48.392
8 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’48.394
9 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’48.538
10 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’48.890

2012 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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104 comments on Button and Kobayashi share front row at Spa

  1. Hearing Kimi will get a penalty for cutting Eau Rouge? Any news on this

  2. A couple of hot-spots tomorrow:

    – Button – it’s gonna be interesting if he will maintain his advantage or slip back during the race,
    – Raikkonen – who is going to challenge for the win for sure, no need for him to approach this GP in a different / safer manner,
    – Sauber – both Kobayashi and Perez looked insanely quick and they are the only ones at least on pace with Raikkonen and very close to Button’s rhythm and they are racing in cars that are extremely gentle with their tyres. Plus, Maldonado, at least in theory, looks like a fairly easy pray for Perez. I’d say they have finally found that missing link in qualifying performance and they’re in with a serious chance here,
    – Alonso – who, without a doubt, will do ANYTHING to keep Hamilton and the Red Bulls behind, no matter what happens in front.

    Now, add a determined Schumacher, Rosberg starting at the back looking set to make up ground, a fairly quick Grosjean who might go for an extreme strategy, Maldonado being at the front before La Source – a renowned pile-up-prone corner, the chance of rain and the chance of a safety car to all this.

    It’s gonna be chaos out there tomorrow…but it’s gonna be a treat.

  3. Button dominated qualifying but i feel he has left it too late to challenge for the title this year

  4. Aimal (@aimalkhan) said on 1st September 2012, 15:27

    what worries me is that once that new rear wing in put on Hamilton’s cars, there will be no stopping him. i hope i am wrong though.

  5. Nikhil said on 1st September 2012, 15:34

    Force india has lost his force,,,,,,,, ,,, there are no more force to reckon with,,,,,, sauber,,, williams are more fasrter then them,,,, i think there lossing the downforce ,,, because of very unidentical nose ,,,, wheres william and saube has very flat nose,,, ,,

  6. sato113 (@sato113) said on 1st September 2012, 15:57

    @keithcollanite mistake,’Webber claimed eighth’. should be seventh.

  7. William Brierty said on 1st September 2012, 15:59

    Sorry to put a dampner on the euphoria of all the JB fans but I think it fairly obvious that had Lewis had Jenson’s setup it’d have been him on pole instead. Also while I think Jenson could win the race, I personally think that keeping Raikkonen and the Saubers behind him in the final stint of the race will be asking too much of him. There will be mixed feelings from within McLaren, because a) it’s the “wrong” McLaren on pole and b) had Lewis had Jenson’s setup McLaren would have had a 1, 2 on the grid with a great possibility of a 1, 2 in the race. Instead Lewis had little or no chance of the podium, and the entire mission of his race will be to catch one man – Fernando Alonso.

    • Well, while it might be true that Button doesn’t have the driving skills of Hamilton, it is also true that Hamilton is nowhere near Button’s ability to find the right setup. Both are important parts of racing, and your comment is nonsense. “If Hamilton had Button’s setup…” well, he doesn’t, and that is due to his own incompetence.

      • andrewf1 (@andrewf1) said on 1st September 2012, 16:26

        @ FLIG
        Button’s ability to find the right setup? Yes, very eloquently demonstrated when he couldn’t find the right setup something like 4-5 races in a row and was battling the Torro Rosso’s, whilst Hamilton was putting the car on the front row.
        I wonder if you think that for those situations, it was a case of Button’s incompetence and being nowhere near Hamilton’s ability to find the right setup.

        The point is, the team finds the right setup, and in this case, Mclaren already stated they had gone in different directions in order to maximize their chances of getting it right. Hamilton simply picked the short straw and that’s not due to his incompetence.

        • Yes, I find both Button and Hamilton quite incompetent. Specially Button, after a whole year learning from Barrichello, who was a mediocre driver at best, but excelled in setting the car up. I think both have some qualities, but they have more deficiencies. That is why none will be champion this year, and I am willing to bet, none will ever be champions again.

          • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 1st September 2012, 21:19

            None of the drivers are ill-capable of setting up the cars to their own liking, in this case Button & Hamilton are different drivers with driving styles & feel for the car, hence why they setup their cars differently.

            @andrewf1 You just assume that had Hamilton had Button’s ‘setup’ he would’ve stuck it on pole – let me dumb it down slightly for better understanding; no, simply because Button had a rear wing with different downforce levels to Hamilton’s rear wing, which had much higher downforce levels than Button’s, that is what made the difference between pole position & P7/P8, Button simply having different downforce levels got him on pole not different car ‘setups’. Feeling & confidence was what had the strongest influence in both their decisions, If you don’t have a good enough ‘feeling’ for the track & car then that’s one step to being a poor driver because you won’t know exactly what the car will do when you turn into a corner & therefore the unpredictability increases.

            When setting up a racing car you’re talking balance, the amount of wing (separate from downforce levels & wing angles), camber, suspension, ride etc.

            So to say Hamilton is incompetent is absurd, think, If Lewis was really incompetent then where would he have been during Jenson’s struggle mid-season?

          • andrewf1 (@andrewf1) said on 1st September 2012, 21:38

            @Younger Hamii
            no need to shout at me, i too found the statement ‘Button and Hamilton are incompetent’ to be ridiculous.
            but also, the updated rear wing IS part of the setup.
            it was a combination of choosing not to run the new rear wing accompanied by the corresponding car setup, which cost Lewis performance today.

        • I think you will find that by speaking to the engineers at McLaren Jenson does more of his own set up than Lewis. It’s only this season that Lewis is starting to spend more time on trying to set up his car.

    • thatscienceguy said on 1st September 2012, 16:26

      IF my aunty had balls she’d be my uncle. If’s have no place in racing, Hamilton DIDN’T have his set up right, Jenson did. Jenson got pole. End of story.

    • dkpioe said on 1st September 2012, 16:37

      i think you are wrong here. hamilton usually has a bit of an advantage in qualifying, but even with a different rear wing, the advantage was big enough to say that button did a better job today. maybe it is button who had a bad setup all along? it is not the wrong mclaren on pole, it is the right one on the day, deal with it.

  8. necrodethmortem (@necrodethmortem) said on 1st September 2012, 16:06

    Vettel fined € 10.000 for practice start in the pitlane.

  9. dkpioe said on 1st September 2012, 16:26

    Button, 1 pole out of 50 races in a top 2 team sounds pretty poor. but still he has nearly the same amount of points as hamilton during the 49 races (he only has about 20 less).

  10. dkpioe said on 1st September 2012, 16:29

    Alonso’s lead he accumulated in the first half of the season will prove vital by the end of the year. mclaren will be chasing back the points they have lost, but will have drivers like maldonado, perez, kobayashi and redbull drivers also taking points away here and there. today button stepped up, but it is probably too late for him for a serious challenge for the championship, he lost too many points in the first half of the year. and 1 out of 50 poles, i dont see the performance becoming a trend.

  11. Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 1st September 2012, 16:48

    Enlighten me. Why Button had the new rear wing and Hamilton doesn’t?

    • Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 1st September 2012, 16:51

      Found it.

      Lewis Hamilton blamed his decision to switch to an older rear wing for a “disastrous” Spa qualifying result.

      The McLaren driver described his eighth place in qualifying as ‘damage limitation’.

      Hamilton won last time out in Hungary but believes that his choice not to use McLaren’s new rear wing rules him out of contention for victory in Sunday’s race at Spa.

      Hamilton and the team made the decision to use the old wing after struggling in Saturday morning practice, believing that it would be faster in qualifying.

      However Jenson Button decided to stick with the new wing and took pole position.

      “It was a disaster for me, but we are still in the top 10 so it is damage limitation for me. It was literally all down to the rear wing,” Hamilton said.

      “I was told the difference in wings was not so great, so it is definitely a surprise. I was told that in qualifying my wing would be quicker but for some reason it wasn’t.

      “It would be great to be up there fighting for a one-two tomorrow but with the wing I have that is not going to happen. The quick cars will be quick in the race tomorrow.

      “Jenson’s wing is working perfectly for him. It’s great for him and I hope he gets maximum points tomorrow.”

      Hamilton said he got everything out of his McLaren in his chosen configuration.

      “Nothing happened on my lap, I got absolutely everything out of the car on all of the laps that I had generally,” he said.

      “The set-up might not be perfect but I can’t make up the time that I lose on the straights.”

      • carl craven said on 1st September 2012, 20:16

        Thank you, finally someone acknowledging that Hamilton had the same choices as Button.

        Lewis went for a high downforce setup. THIS is what has caused him to qualify so poorly, however he has had a poor weekend and Button has not.

        If people want to call Button mediocre with his skill and his performance today then great. I am happy to support such a mediocre driver. It’s their inability to recognize skills unless they are being kicked in the balls. Poor you.

        • Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 1st September 2012, 23:41

          I don’t like Button at all. For me he is a dull driver, and overrated, but that just my opinion. But seems he made the right choice.
          The article says that Lewis made his decision based on what he was told, and that is the matter for me.
          A thing that i think is kind of funny, is how many Button fans came out of the dungeons because of one pole. His year has been pretty bad up to now, just like Lewis last year. And he didn’t won anything yet, theres a full race tomorrow. So calm down. But I can guarantee if he does win the race i’ll be congratulating him, despite not liking him as a driver.

          • carl craven said on 2nd September 2012, 1:00

            Of course you can think what you like about Button but he was once Lewis’s hero. Period.

            Button it seems has more fans inside the F1 industry than he does in F1 fan base it seems, being a Button fan is not without it’s challenges either, but dull he is not, one way or another.

            You might as well call MS dull, barely overtook a single driver in his 7 titles, did most of it in the pitlane. Let’s also not forget that Brawn likened Button to MS. You can’t have it all ways.

            I suppose when people are always winning they are easier to follow, everyone loves a winner, that is why MS had so many fans and why Man United have so many fans. People love to just tag a long, associate themselves with success because they have no strength of character, but just because there is only one winner doesn’t mean the sport is empty of talent. Practically every driver in F1 is there on merit. Even pay drivers need to prove to the people giving them the money that they deserve their place in F1 and are likely to cause enough attention to justify the money spent on them. All drivers are pay drivers in that respect.

            Is he an over rated driver or an over rated Drivers Champion? Let’s face it. All current champs have won with a car advantage one way or another. Just look at Vettel’s two titles. Look where he is now, didn’t make the top ten today and yet people are still calling him a ‘great’ in the making. But now he has no car advantage and only beat his team mate due to a gear box change.

            Me? I just enjoy F1 and while I have followed Button’s career since he started in F1 and consider myself a fan I would be the first to say I don’t consider him the best. Just good, up there, NOT overrated and well deserving of his place in F1. Brawn Richards and Williams have all heaped praise on him and those are just the people you hear about.

            So I will go on enjoying week in week out Alonso Hamilton Vettel Button MS kobayashi Perez etc all pitting their skills against each other and watching how Button resolves or doesn’t the challenges he faces. I will enjoy the good times and be disappointed in him with no excuses when he struggles, because I don’t just follow the winner or the spangliest team or the reddest team because I can’t raise the depth of my attention beyond the glitter but because I see the reality of how people pit themselves against each other.

            And I learn from this process.

          • Jon E said on 2nd September 2012, 1:21

            @Ed Marques said “And he didn’t won anything yet”

            Wrong he won the Australian Grand Prix this year.

          • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 2nd September 2012, 7:48

            Very big of you to offer congratulations in advance, @edmarques. I am sure Button will be relieved.

            I’m just enjoying these few brief hours of liberty before I get shoved back in the dungeon.

          • And it’s funny that so many Lewis fans can’t accept that their man made the wrong decision and his team mate was so much faster . Suck it up

  12. Nickpkr said on 1st September 2012, 17:09

    Sauber over the moon and watch out Mercedes !

  13. tmekt (@tmekt) said on 1st September 2012, 17:36

    It’s either Kimi or Jenson tomorrow. With Kimi being more likely.

  14. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 1st September 2012, 20:57

    Couldn’t watch Quali because I was at a friend’s wedding but watched the highlights & pole lap & Button was really immaculate throughout the whole lap, very smooth, very precise (and aggressive too in terms of applying the throttle) his decision to go for the low-downforce setup, which ultimately turned out to be the right one as of the end of qualifying (anything can happen) casts my mind back to Monza 2010, the same scenario with the same result: Button benefiting while on the other hand Hamilton was suffering.

    Today was the day where I thought to myself ‘Well I’m not going to be able to watch qualifying & I bet qualifying will be a surprise’ & what do we have now: Button with his first pole for McLaren & we’ve got Saubers P2 & P3, what a way to return to the unpredictability. It’s a great feeling! One thing: what the hell is happening down at Brackley to make Mercedes this slow? Absolutely horrendous, they’re losing quite a lot of time in the middle sector If I’m right.

    Race expectations: Alonso & Hamilton (with extra downforce onboard, it’ll provide a vital help in hand) to gain places from the start, one Sauber will have a shocker, something tells me Hamilton will retire.

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