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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104 comments on Button and Kobayashi share front row at Spa

  1. Don’t know why Hamilton is so glum. He is two spots behind Alonso who is not looking strong. Every other person ahead in the table is behind on the road. If they finish as they start it wont be catastropic for him. Its not the time for him to go back to being sad erratic Lewis. I know he has some more personal stuff on his mind now but time to go to work.

  2. 808Morgan said on 1st September 2012, 23:45

    And the customer Ferrari beats the factory team, Ferrari have already started copying the Sauber at the factory. I like Kamui and I hope he does well, I want Kimi to storm through and beat everyone though. GO KIMI!

  3. Shimks (@shimks) said on 2nd September 2012, 0:03

    Great reading everyone’s comments. I love the excitement of the Spa weekend. Such a shame it’s not gonna be on in 2013.

    So many drivers to root for tomorrow. But at the end of the day, I’d like to see Kamui get his first win.

  4. Jon E said on 2nd September 2012, 1:48

    All these fan-boy opinions make me feel sad for you as it prevents you from understanding and fully enjoying the sport. We are witnessing some of finest drivers in the in the world driving some of the finest examples of engineering which is made possible by hundreds of very talented hard-working team members. They all make mistakes, sometimes it’s the team, sometimes it’s the driver and sometimes it’s both. I feel that many people don’t recognise how close most of the drivers are in terms of talent. They have different strengths and weaknesses and it is fascinating to see the ebb and flow of their fortunes.
    This is turning out to be another great season :D

  5. looseasagoose (@looseasagoose) said on 2nd September 2012, 5:00

    If God isn’t real, then how did Button get pole? Checkmate atheists

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd September 2012, 7:56

    It seems like I’m asking this at every race: how much longer will it be before Williams reaslies Senna is a liability? Once again, he has put in another dismal performance – his fastest lap was still a second slower that Maldonado. As Maldonado proved, the car has the pace to make it into Q3, but Senna blew both his Q2 laps and missed the cut-off by over a second. He should have been dropped months ago; Williams could have put Bottas in the seat for some of the European races to see how he fared on circuits that he knew, and then brought Senna back for the final Asian leg if Bottas didn’t work out.

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