Vettel denies Hamilton from pole in Spa


Sebastian Vettel maintains Red Bull Racing’s excellent qualifying form with yet another pole position, this time at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps.

The championship leader achieved his eighth pole of the season with a time of one minute, 48.298 seconds, to denied McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton from the top spot by a margin of four tenths of a second.

After setting the fastest time in two of the practice sessions at the Belgian Grand Prix, Mark Webber had to settle with third, with Felipe Massa once again out-qualifying his Ferrari team-mate to take fourth.

But the major talking point in this wet/dry qualifying session was a bizarre incident involving the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton in Q2.

As track conditions rapidly improved and the lap times turned inside out, Hamilton banged his wheels with Maldonado going through the Bus Stop chicane as the McLaren completed a flying lap just as the chequered flag was out.

That moment elevated Hamilton to the top of the leader board but on the slowing-down lap, Maldonado appeared to retaliate for the contact on the run out of La Source, sideswiping the McLaren, which then needed minor impromptu repairs for the start of Q3.

Unfortunately the second McLaren of Jenson Button was out following the late-Q2 scramble, leaving the winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix down in P13 on the grid.

The end of Q3 was a similar topsy-turvy as the circuit began to dry out. Felipe Massa was able to take advantage of the improve track condition to out qualify his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso for only the second time this season as they took fourth and eighth respectively.

Nico Rosberg put his Mercedes in fifth, while Jaime Alguersuari continue to impressive with an excellent sixth for Toro Rosso.

But the real hero of qualifying was Bruno Senna. The Brazilian was drafted in to replace Nick Heidfeld and despite not driving since Abu Dhabi last season, he was quick throughout qualifying and in the end, recorded the seventh fastest time on his debut for Renault. That’s three positions ahead of team-mate Vitaly Petrov, who shares row five with Sauber’s Sergio Perez.

Rosberg was the only Mercedes in the top ten as his team-mate was out even before setting a flying lap… Twenty years after making his Formula 1 debut in the Jordan – in which he qualified a superb seventh – Michael Schumacher’s anniversary weekend went dramatically downhill when his Mercedes shed a right-rear wheel on its out-lap at the start of Q1 and crashed heavily on the approach to Rivage, leaving the seven-time world champion at the tail end of the field.

Neither Williams made it beyond Q2, with Rubens Barrichello in P14 and Maldonado initially in P16. A five-grid penalty was given to the latter hours after qualifying for causing a collision and so Maldonado will start the race in P21. Adrian Sutil lines up P15 after crashing his Force India on the way out of Eau Rouge while holding fifth in Q2. A red flag was required while the debris was cleared up.

That completed a miserable qualifying session for Force India as a spin on his final Q1 run had already left Paul di Resta down in P17. With Schumacher and di Resta both missing the cut, Heikki Kovalainen made it to Q2 for Team Lotus and will start in P16.

Qualifying times from Spa-Francorchamps:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m48.298s
2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m48.730s
3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m49.376s
4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m50.256s
5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m50.552s
6.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m50.773s
7.  Bruno Senna           Renault              1m51.121s
8.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m51.251s
9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m51.374s
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m52.303s
11.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   2m04.692s
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       2m04.757s
13.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     2m05.150s
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    2m07.349s
15.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 2m07.777s
16.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        2m08.354s
17.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 2m07.758s
18.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        2m07.773s
19.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      2m09.566s
20.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      2m11.601s
21.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    2m08.106s*
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         2m11.616s
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth         2m13.077s
24.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             no time

107% time: 2m10.339s

*Five-place grid penalty for colliding with Lewis Hamilton at the end of Q2

15 thoughts to “Vettel denies Hamilton from pole in Spa”

  1. Championship leader Sebastian Vettel has said that it was down to perfect timing to snatch pole position from Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel said his eighth pole position of the season did not come easy after unpredictable weather made timing his best lap critical.

    The German admitted that he had been initially uncomfortable with his Red Bull in Q1 but changed his approach for Q2, which enabled him to contend for pole.

    “It was a difficult session all in all,” he said. “Q1 and Q2 with the tricky conditions, and the circuit drying up very quickly and it being tricky on inters – the main target was to get through.

    “I didn’t feel comfortable right in the beginning, but in Q2 we made a big step forward. I rediscovered Spa in a way and found some better lines than all weekend and in Q3 we were quite sure it was dry [enough for dry] tyres but also quite sure if it didn’t rain it would be down to the last lap.”

    Vettel added that the lack of dry running this weekend meant he went into qualifying still learning about the car.

    “I wasn’t really happy yesterday or this morning, but we did the right steps to come back and especially when it was drying up. If you would put your money on that around here, all in all we got the timing right, especially in the last qualifying session it was feeling good and we got it together all the time.

    “I was trying to make my way around in the last two laps [in Q3], trying to get temperature in the tyres, trying to push as hard as I could.

    “Lewis [Hamilton] was right in front of me a couple of seconds ahead and I saw him locking up, last thing. I was happy with the car towards the end in the dry and it seemed to get quicker and quicker. Not an easy session with conditions changing and right after it finished it started to change again, but here, as we saw today, anything is possible.

    The world champion said it would be impossible to predict tomorrow’s race and that he hadn’t ruled out more uncertain weather conditions to play a part in it.

    “It is one of those races, anything can happen from start-to-finish, we will see,” he said. “The best forecast around here is to look up and see what is happening!

    “We had a good balance in the end in the dry, the beginning of qualifying I didn’t really feel comfortable. Even in the wet we found direction and it should be ready for tomorrow, it is a long race so I am looking forward to it.”

  2. After taking the second grid slot at Spa, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton commented that his clash with Pastor Maldonado would have resulted in a major accident. has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton reckons it was only good fortune that prevented his clash with Pastor Maldonado in Belgian Grand Prix from being a major accident.

    The McLaren and Williams had made contact at the Bus Stop chicane as Hamilton pushed to complete his final flying lap of Q2 in ever-improving conditions. Maldonado then appeared to retaliate between La Source and Eau Rouge as the two cars returned to the pits.

    “I think it was quite serious and just fortunate that neither of us, particularly him, was flipped into a big crash,” sad Hamilton.

    The Briton said his car was carrying damage in Q3 as a consequence, although he still qualified second.

    “I have to look at it afterwards,” said Hamilton. “At the end of Q2, I got to the end of the lap, the Williams was sitting there going very slow, and I had to try and get past.

    “Then I lost quite a lot of time and as I was coming down the exit of Turn 1 I saw Maldonado approaching quite quickly.

    “He came around me, I didn’t move anywhere, and he tried to swipe across me. I don’t know if it was intentional.”

    McLaren was able to carry out rapid repairs to get Hamilton out for Q3, where he took second on the grid. But the Briton said the car was still bearing the scars of the incident during his pole bid.

    “The front wing was quite badly damaged, the sidepod and I think front suspension was damaged, front toe-in was a little bit out,” he said.

    “I think once the flag is out and the red lights are on there is no need to be racing – there should never ever be an incident.”

  3. Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber has said he is feeling confident that he can win the race despite qualifying in third position. has the details.

    Mark Webber is confident he will be in the hunt for victory in the Belgian Grand Prix despite not converting his practice pace into a pole position.

    The Australian had been quickest in two out of the three practice sessions at Spa, although all three had been rain-affected to some extent, but ended up third after qualifying.

    Webber felt he had been too aggressive at the end of the session, which took place in drying conditions.

    “It was a close session, I think probably went a bit too hard,” said Webber. “I felt comfortable. You never know if the lap you are on is going to be ‘the’ lap, and as soon as we finished qualifying it started to rain again.”

    The Red Bull driver said he could not be disappointed with third when other drivers had fared much worse, including Hungary winner Jenson Button, who was way back in 13th.

    “Let’s see how it goes, we have had a very smooth weekend, and it’s easy to end up like Jenson Button, to be out of position,” said Webber. “We are in a position, it would be nice to be a bit further up but the guys did a good job and we are in the hunt tomorrow for a good race.”

  4. Paul di Resta blamed a Force India team mistake for his Q1 exit in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying.

    His 18th place in Spa qualifying marked the first time that di Resta had been eliminated in Q1 in his Formula 1 career, and the Scot was adamant he had been quick enough to make the cut had the team not called him in early in the drying session.

    “I made a small mistake on the lap before, and during that lap we were quite a bit quicker and the team chose to bring me in,” di Resta told BBC television.

    “They told me we should ‘box’ and when I got back to the pits they said ‘hate to tell you this, but somebody’s gone quicker’. So they called me back to the pits. I’m not aware of the situation going on around me, I just do as I’m ordered.

    “We chose to sit out the middle part of the session and go out when the conditions were going to be best at the end.”

    Di Resta said the Force India was capable of a far better result. His team-mate Adrian Sutil was 15th after crashing in Q2.

    We should be much further up and that’s not happened,” di Resta said. “There’s much more [performance in the car], it’s just the wrong call. Definitely the wrong call.”


  5. McLaren’s Jenson Button blames a misunderstanding for a lowly P13 in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps. has the story.

    Jenson Button has blamed a misunderstanding between himself and his McLaren team for his failure to make it into Q3 during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.

    The Briton will start 13th on the grid after he was bumped in the final stages of Q2, having slowed to cool his intermediate tyres before going for a final run – not realising that he didn’t have enough time to complete another lap.

    “Misunderstanding,” he said. “I obviously did my first lap and then I cooled the tyres not knowing that I didn’t have any more laps left and obviously the track was getting drier and drier every lap.

    “There were so many cars out there so… I think I was second or third quickest when I did my lap. I didn’t get the opportunity to do another lap so… wow. That’s massively disappointing and a big shock because obviously in Q1 I was a second quicker than anyone. So a misunderstanding and a mistake on our part.”

    Button dismissed suggestions that moving over to free up his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who was on a hot lap, had any impact on his failure to make it around the circuit in time to complete another lap.

    “I did it because that was my cool down lap,” he said. “I didn’t realise that was it otherwise obviously I would have kept pushing. I didn’t realise I didn’t have another lap.

    Button said his disappointment had been compounded by the apparent competitiveness of the McLaren MP4-12 in race conditions, adding that he believed he would have had a shot at a front row start on Sunday.

    “I had a completely dry set-up,” he said. “But our car is very quick around here and every practice session we have been in the top three so it has been very competitive. So it’s tough being back in 13th. But we have got to deal with it now.

    “To try and win the race from where we are is pretty much very, very difficult so we will see. It would be a lot easier from the front row. I didn’t expect to be 13th on the grid and we wouldn’t have been for this misunderstanding.

    “Massive surprise. Going to go back to the motorhome and have a cup of tea. No point thinking about it anymore, we made a mistake and that’s it. Got to move forward now. But starting 13th and we have the quickest car out there basically. It’s tough.”

  6. Heikki Kovalainen does not believe he could have coaxed any more speed out of his Lotus during Belgian Grand Prix qualifying, after making it into the second part of qualifying for the fourth time this year.

    The Finn was helped by Michael Schumacher crashing before setting a time in Q1, and by the changeable weather conditions during the session, but still went quicker than Paul di Resta’s Force India and Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber in the initial section of qualifying to make it through in 16th.

    He then fell back to 17th in Q2, but was only 0.2s slower than Pastor Maldonado’s Williams, and was a satisfied man afterwards.

    “I think we can be very pleased with the performance today,” Kovalainen said. “That last lap in Q1 was as much as I could get out of the car and to get back into Q2 is obviously a great result for the whole team.

    “We had the right plan for the conditions, put it into action on track and it paid off. I don’t think I could have got any more out of the package today, so finishing where we did goes down as objective achieved for today.

    Kovalainen, who has not finished higher than 14th this year, is less optimistic of carrying his qualifying form into the race, especially as dry weather is predicted for Sunday.

    “It looks like it’ll be a dry race tomorrow, and I think the key for us is to make sure both cars finish,” he added.

    “If we can do that, be there to take advantage of anything that happens, and leave Spa having got into Q2 and had a solid race, this will go down as a good weekend for us.”


  7. It’s been twenty years since Michael Schumacher made his Formula One debut and after experiencing the highs of setting the fastest time in the opening practice session in the wet, the seven-time world champion hit a low point when his car lost a wheel in Q1. Schumacher will start this Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix in P24. has the full story.

    Michael Schumacher said he would remain positive about his chances in the Belgian Grand Prix despite the lost wheel in qualifying that left him at the back of the grid.

    The Mercedes’ right rear wheel became detached between Malmedy and Rivage on Schumacher’s out-lap in Q1, causing him to crash.

    “Well, obviously I would have wished for a different end to today’s qualifying, but it is difficult to drive on three wheels – even if I should have the experience to do so in Spa,” he said, making a light-hearted reference to his incident with David Coulthard in the 1998 Belgian GP.

    “Seriously, this is certainly something that should not occur, but then this is also Formula 1; we are working at the highest level but still things can happen.

    “At first, I wasn’t sure what had happened, as I just felt myself lose the back end suddenly which is why I instantly apologised to the team. But then I saw the wheel off the car and understood the reason why I had lost control.

    “Trying to find the good in the bad, I’d probably say that I still have some fresh sets of tyres left, and that there is only one direction to go tomorrow: forward.”

    Team boss Ross Brawn said it was not immediately obvious exactly why Schumacher had lost the wheel.

    “We need to look at exactly what happened, but it would appear there was something amiss with the right rear wheel attachment, and we need to go through it carefully tonight to ensure there can be no repeat,” said Brawn.

    Schumacher’s team-mate Nico Rosberg qualified fifth in the sister car, and was delighted with Mercedes’ handling of the changing weather.

    “It was quite difficult,” said Rosberg. “The situation was that conditions were always changing – dry to wet to dry again, and then wet tyres, intermediates, slicks… there was everything.

    “But it was interesting and we made the best of it today. The team helped me a lot with the strategy – I was the last guy to cross the line, which was good as it meant I had the driest track and it all worked out well.

    “I’m set up for the dry tomorrow so it’s probably going to be pouring down. But it doesn’t matter, in any conditions we’re okay.”

  8. Toro Rosso technical director Giorgio Ascanelli said the team’s qualifying performance at Spa was evidence of a genuine stride forward, as Jaime Alguersuari claimed the best starting position of his Formula 1 career in sixth and Sebastien Buemi narrowly missed out on joining him in the top 10.

    Ascanelli acknowledged that issues for the Force Indias and Michael Schumacher might have eased Toro Rosso’s path towards the top half of the grid, but was still delighted with his team’s performance.

    “Our good result with both cars is down to the work we have done so far this weekend, although we have to accept that both Force Indias and Schumacher might have been expected to be ahead of us,” said Ascanelli.

    “However, it is also true to say our drivers did not make any major mistakes so the result is well deserved. I am sorry for Sebastien whose only error up until now came on the lap that mattered in Q2: otherwise he could have been tenth and been able to fight in Q3.

    “The clearest indication that our car has improved, through various updates we have introduced here, is the fact we have been slightly better than Sauber in both the dry and the wet. For the first time this season, we have seen progress with our DRS and that is down to the work of the aero team on developing this aspect of the car.”

    Alguersuari was similarly thrilled with his result.

    “This was my best ever performance and the best for the team this year,” he said. “I think I have to be very happy with this and also because my team-mate came very close to Q3, which shows we have done a good job, not just on the car but in the way we managed the session, being the first out of the pits to get a clear track.

    “The weather helped, because the car worked very well on the intermediates and the extreme wets, but we have also been quick in dry conditions. We knew we had a better car here than in Hungary and we have learned a lot about it so far this weekend. Certainly the DRS is now working better than ever before.”

    Buemi had been in the top 10 for much of Q2, before a slight mistake on his crucial final lap.

    “It was not easy this afternoon, because the track dried very quickly after the rain actually stopped falling,” he said. “Therefore you had to get a good lap at just the right time. I managed to do that right up until the end, when I made a small mistake.

    “I am a bit angry with myself for that, but 11th is still a good place to start the race tomorrow.”


  9. The Scuderia have admitted that it was hampered by tyre temperature during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. has the details.

    Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said his squad was mainly hampered by its pre-existing tyre temperature issues in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

    Although Felipe Massa qualified fourth, usual team leader Fernando Alonso was back in eighth place. Ferrari has had difficulty getting the Pirellis up to temperature in cool or damp conditions all year.

    “We are definitely disappointed with a result that does not match our expectations,” said Domenicali. “We managed to get through the first two sessions in the wet in one piece but then, once we switched to the dry tyres, the chronic problem that has characterised our season was clear to see, even more so here than elsewhere, namely the difficult in getting the tyres to work well in low temperatures and on a damp track.”

    Alonso said traffic had also been a factor in his qualifying frustrations, but was upbeat about his chances of making progress in the grand prix.

    “Eighth is definitely not a good result, but we have to accept it and try to make up for this bad qualifying in tomorrow’s race,” he said. “I am confident because I know the car’s true potential is definitely better than this position.

    “We did a good job of managing Q1 and Q2, even if the red flag in the second part put us under a bit of pressure because there were only seven minutes left and at that time I was not through to Q3. In the dry I don’t think I could have fought for pole position, but I could have been at least on the front two rows.

    “Unfortunately, I hardly ever managed to get a clean lap because on both my second and third laps I found [Sergio] Perez ahead of me and on the last one I had to slow at the entrance to the chicane to let [Mark] Webber pass, otherwise I might have been penalised. That’s how it was, but definitely there is a sense of regret, as I could have got a better place.”

    But while Alonso was disappointed, his team-mate Massa was very content with fourth.

    “At the start of the session, when the rain came down, if I had been offered a fourth place, I would have signed for it on the spot,” he said. “My result isn’t bad, even if the cars ahead of me have shown a much quicker pace.

    “However, it’s true that conditions in Q3 were the worst possible for us: we could not get the best grip level right from the start, because we struggled a lot to get the tyres up to temperature. I think that tomorrow, if we have a dry track, we could be more competitive and I hope to be fighting with the drivers who are ahead of me today.”

  10. Pastor Maldonado has been given a five-place grid penalty for the Belgian Grand Prix after his incident with Lewis Hamilton at the end of Q2.

    The pair had clashed once at the Bus Stop chicane as Hamilton hurried to complete a flying lap, and Maldonado then appeared to jink towards the McLaren on their following laps as they came out of La Source, with light contact made between them.

    Maldonado was adjudged to have been more at fault in the incident and will be moved back from 16th to 21st on the grid.

    When asked by AUTOSPORT whether the second move had been deliberate retaliation, the Williams driver said: “No. It was a big moment.

    “I tried to overtake him because he slowed down quite a lot. It’s like a straight, but there’s a turn and maybe at that moment he was turning and I was a bit straight. It’s difficult to say.

    “There was not any reason for both drivers to do anything after the chequered flag. It’s clear that there was a mistake on both sides.

    Maldonado added that he had not spoken to Hamilton about either incident and that he was comfortable with what had happened initially at the chicane as there was “no contact”.

    Hamilton was given a reprimand but receives no penalty. The stewards said both drivers were guilty of “causing a collision” and were punished under article 16.1 of the regulations.


  11. With Renault replacing Nick Heidfeld, Brazilian’s Bruno Senna has said he must perform consistently at a high level to build his Formula One career. has the story.

    Bruno Senna says he knows he must build on his outstanding qualifying performance in Spa if he is to have a lasting career in Formula 1.

    The Brazilian, who will start seventh on the grid for the Belgian Grand Prix, was called upon to replace Nick Heidfeld by team boss Eric Boullier for this race and the next one at Monza in Italy next month. And Senna says he knows he needs to perform consistently at this level now or risk losing the momentum that his strong initial form has generated.

    “It was obviously a good start but these were very tricky conditions and some drivers that are faster in dry conditions,” he said after qualifying. “I seemed to be very fast in these conditions fortunately, but there is still lots to prove.

    “I want to be consistently good and if I can be that then I can make my career.”

    Senna, who has sat on the sidelines for much of 2011, having struggled at the back of the grid with HRT last season, added that getting into Q3 on his first attempt with Renault was an unexpected boost to his debut with the team.

    “It’s a lot better [than I had hoped for], but I did not know what to expect to be honest,” he said. “This morning after being P9 in the wet and it was straightforward conditions in terms of everybody going out and doing laps – I was confident that in the wet I could do a good job.

    “When the conditions were changing for qualifying and the forecast was going maybe for dry I got a bit more nervous – because of course I hadn’t… I knew that yesterday it was very, very difficult for me in the drier conditions.

    “But just getting to Q3 was a massive victory for me. I knew that I could push, especially on the last few laps because I had not much to lose to be honest in that situation. I didn’t want to make a mistake, go off and crash, so in that sense I wasn’t pushing 100%. But I was pushing where I knew I could push and get away with outbraking myself a little bit.

    “And I think where I other people mistakes I didn’t and the result is there.”

    Asked whether he thought this performance would silence those who suggested he was only in the seat because he brought money to the team, Senna replied: “The only way to answer those things is to drive well. I think that I have done a good job today so it takes some of the question marks away. But every time I drive the car I have to continue doing that until I’m a professional Formula 1 driver.

    “Eric [Boullier] was with me in GP2 and he knows that I can be competitive so he gave me a great vote of confidence when he put me in the car,” he added. “First when he selected me as third driver this year and then when he put me in the car this weekend and the last one in Hungary and I hope that I can make him proud.

    “Because these opportunities aren’t showing up everywhere all the time so I am hanging on to it very much.”

  12. After qualifying in eighth position Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso expect to recover in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. has the details.

    Fernando Alonso believes he can still fight for victory in the Belgian Grand Prix, so long as the forecasted dry weather holds true for Sunday.

    The Ferrari driver qualified in an uncharacteristically low eighth position, which he blamed partly on traffic and difficulties getting heat into his Pirelli tyres. But the Spaniard says his car has the pace to fight his way to the front if conditions are warmer at Spa for the race.

    “I expect a good recovery tomorrow,” he said. “If it is dry in the race as the forecast says, I think we can recover some good positions, fight with the top teams. Why not? Because while in damp and cold conditions they have maybe an advantage, and can get heat in to the tyres for one timed lap, they have the disadvantage of degrading the tyres a lot.

    “So tomorrow the race is very open for us, if we do a good start and a good recovery in the first couple of laps.

    “In terms of strategy and race pace compared with recently maybe we are better than the others so it is still very open and we will try to get the maximum points.”

    Alonso added that the cold conditions are what scuppered his chances of being competitive in qualifying but that traffic was a key reason why he was four positions behind his team-mate Felipe Massa on the grid.

    “Traffic was one of the factors because I did not complete a clean lap in Q3, but apart from that traffic we were not competitive to fight for the pole,” he said. “In a normal Q3 with everything perfect maybe we were fourth or fifth, so never at the level of the top three.

    “We are still missing some performance at these temperatures – we are running at 14 degrees on a damp track – fourth was what was possible for Ferrari.

    “Without the cold conditions we could perform even better. It is no secret that we are not very happy with the cold conditions and that we are very happy with the hot conditions. Here for the fourth consecutive race we have damp and cold conditions and we are still waiting for the better temperatures.

    “Dry is better for us. These weather conditions anything can happen – maybe we can recover more positions or whatever. If it is dry I think the car is competitive enough to be fighting at the front on a normal dry race.”

  13. All four drivers who failed to set times within 107 per cent of the fastest lap in Q1 at Spa have been given dispensation to start the Belgian Grand Prix.

    Virgin’s Jerome D’Ambrosio and HRT duo Tonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo were all outside the 2m10.339s cut-off with their best times, while Michael Schumacher did not manage a single flying lap after his Mercedes shed its right rear wheel and crashed on his out-lap.

    But the stewards ruled that all four could take part in the grand prix, giving dispensation on the grounds that they had been quick enough both in free practice at Spa and consistently so during the season, and because of the changeable weather conditions.

    D’Ambrosio will actually be elevated to 20th on the grid due to Williams driver Pastor Maldonado’s five-place grid penalty for his clash with Lewis Hamilton in Q2.


  14. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is adamant that Pastor Maldonado deliberately tried to take him out during qualifying. has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton is still adamant that his collision with Pastor Maldonado during Belgian Grand Prix qualifying was anything but a racing incident, following a decision by race stewards to penalise the Venezuelan driver.

    Hamilton and Maldonado made contact at the Bus Stop chicane while the McLaren driver was completing a flying lap, and the pair then collided again after exiting La Source with Maldonado moving across on the 2008 world champion and pushing him off the circuit.

    After Maldonado was given a five-place grid penalty for ‘causing an avoidable incident,’ Hamilton said: “It was not a racing incident.

    “I thought through the last corner that I had to get past the guys and we perhaps touched a little bit, I don’t know. I perhaps thought that he was upset about that or not, or wanted to make a point to me. I really don’t know.

    “I haven’t spoken to him so I don’t know from his point of view what happened, but it is clear from the footage that we are going down a straight which curves to the right and he is far on the right and I am far on the left and I cannot go any more to the left, and somehow the car ends up hitting me right in front, so it is up to everyone else to come up with their own opinions about it, but I didn’t drive into anyone.”

    Hamilton, who received a reprimand for his part in the incident, said that there had been no truth in suggestions that he had caused Maldonado to retaliate against him after appearing to jink slightly to the right immediately before the Williams driver came across on him.

    He added: “I think at the time it had begun to rain a little bit more towards the end of the session and I had gone around that, had some water on my tyres and had a little bit of wheelspin, but I think I was just continuing my line, went a bit right then saw that he had come out so I moved back.

    “Then he was in the blind spot for me, I continued driving straight and thought he was coming past, and then somehow he ended up right alongside me, I was lucky that his rear wheel did not hit my front wheel and I didn’t get any more damage.”

    Maldonado’s penalty dropped him from 16th to 21st on the grid.

  15. What a great qualifying session.

    You know what the biggest moment was? No, not Maldonado being a complete prick, but hold on to your hats gentlemen. Vettel, in the wet, managed to drive his car around a corner without coming off the track!?!?!!? Wah???? Yeah I know, how the f*** did that happen? 😀

    Shame to see Schuey not even get chance to drive more or less. Man I am really starting to not hate this guy!

    So it’s a Red Bull sandwich with some silver and red filling.

    Now THAT incident. I like Lewis, but will freely admit that he’s made some right donkeys during his Formula One career. But today he really did nothing wrong and the reprimand was again dished out like sweeties. His “overtake” at the Bus Stop was nothing, it wasn’t even an overtake, all he did was drive around the racing line and Maldonado had a sudden attack of Stevie Wonder Syndrome.

    So then AFTER the session ended, from some angles did look like he was jinking towards Maldonado, but in fact you can see Lewis was just following the dry line. He moved left at the shock of seeing Maldonado so close. You then see Lewis appear to jink towards Maldonado again (as some Lewis haters are screaming at the internet), but actually it’s just him exiting La Source and following the dry line. It is made to look worse by the fact that Maldonado just went straight, taking a line across Lewis.

    This was utterly appealing and Maldonado needs to be sitting in his trailer tomorrow and not racing. It’s disgusting. The stewards are quoting ‘causing an avoidable incident’. Okay firstly I have a problem with the rule name, shouldn’t this rule be called “UN-avoidable” since the guy being crashed into COULDN’T avoid manoeuvre?! Oh wait right it’s the FIA.

    But secondly, any previous occasion it has been a ballsy move that went too far. This was deliberate intention to hit another driver. This is waaaay more than “that gap is a little small I think, but I’ll give it a go”. Nah this was “I’m a douchie driver and have no idea that Lewis didn’t actually do anything wrong, so I’m gonna show him, I’ll show him good”

    What a twat. A five place drop is nothing. I think Schuey got ten place drop for his move on Rubens against the pit wall at Hungary last year?

    My god, I expect ref’s, umpires and judges to make bad calls live and instantly, but when you got video footage, supposed brains in their heads and time, I’d expect nothing but quality calls. Yet year after year the stewards manage to make complete arses of themselves and F1.

    Just don’t forget that this was AFTER the session was over. Why in the fuck was Maldonado still going so fast and so close to another driver

    Anyway, I don’t expect Vettel to win, I don’t know who will win either, but if McLaren have to decide on anything more complicated or unexpected than 1+1 with maybe another +1 thrown in, then it won’t be Lewis either. hey you never know, they might trip up over a thrown out strategy that’ll have Jenson winning.

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