Giancarlo Fisichella has taken his first pole position for the Force India in a remarkable qualifying session at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. No one expected the poplar Italian to take the top spot in a car that often occupies the last row of the grid, so this result is a fantastic achievement for both the Italian and the Silverstone-based team.
Jarno Trulli continued Toyota’s impressive pace at Spa with second position, joining his fellow countryman on the front row. BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld is next up with the winner of last weekend’s European Grand Prix, Rubens Barrichello in the Brawn.
Robert Kubica was fifth fastest in the other BMW, having briefly occupied a front row slot until the last minute shuffle in the Q3 session. The Polish driver will start just in front of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was sixth ahead of Timo Glock’s Toyota.
The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will start in eighth and ninth position with Nico Rosberg produce another fine performance in the Williams with tenth.
As for championship leader Jenson Button, he will start in a disappointing P14 – his worst qualifying performance this season. He was simply struggling from a lack of grip on his soft-compound Bridgestones.
To witness all the traditional frontrunners struggling was quite surreal even though the one-hour qualifying session was running in fine and dry conditions. The differences between the soft and medium-compound tyres offered by Bridgestone might be the main cause of the problem.
In the case of Button, he wasn’t confident on the option tyres, which resulted in a low grid position. Jenson’s advantage over his championship rivals is slowly diminishing by every race and this latest setback is not doing any favours if he wants to win the title.
Even the McLarens have difficulty in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton down in P12 with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen a further three places behind. Both drivers complained about a lack of decent pace.
Renault’s Fernando Alonso was also out in Q2 and will start the race at Spa in between his old rival Hamilton and the championship leader Button with an unlucky P13.
As for the under-pressure Luca Badoer, who had a nightmare race at Valencia last weekend, the Ferrari driver failed to go through Q3 after crashing at Les Combes. The Italian will start his second race for Scuderia in last place.
Qualifying times from Spa-Francorchamps:
1. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:46.308
2. Trulli Toyota 1:46.395
3. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:46.500
4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:46.513
5. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:46.586
6. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:46.633
7. Glock Toyota 1:46.677
8. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:46.761
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:46.788
10. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:47.362
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:45.119
12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.122
13. Alonso Renault 1:45.136
14. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:45.251
15. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.259
16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:45.705
17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:45.951
18. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:46.032
19. Grosjean Renault 1:46.307
20. Badoer Ferrari 1:46.359