Rosberg masters wet conditions to take Spa pole

Rosberg Spa 2014

Championship leader Nico Rosberg achieved his fourth consecutive Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had to settle with second position after suffering braking problmes in Q3. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was the best of ‘division two’ in third, but was over two seconds adrift of the Silver Arrows.

Rain meant that the majority of qualifying was run using intermediate tyres and Rosberg’s first flying lap at the start of Q3, a time of two minute, 05.591 seconds, proved to be good enough for pole.

Although Rosberg did switch to a fresh set of intermediates and made a small improvement, he had already done enough to be secure the top spot. Nico ended up just over two tenths clear of his championship rival and Mercedes team-mate.

Hamilton set a slow time on his first flying lap, which was compromised by sliding wide at the La Source hairpin, leading him to ease off, but Lewis improved on his second attempt.

He then pitted for fresh intermediates and got down to a two minute, 05.819 seconds on his final Q3 lap, but this was only for second position.

Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel was third quickest, over two seconds slower than Rosberg, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in fourth.

The champion duo had held third and fourth after the first runs, but improvements later on served only to defend their positions with the Mercedes drivers out of reach.

Hungarian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo, who had an off-track moment on his final attempt, was fifth fastest ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the Williams.

Kevin Magnussen outqualified McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, the duo ending up seventh and tenth.

In between the McLarens were Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa, with The Iceman losing out big time following his first run which meant he was bumped down from fifth to eighth place.

The Scuderia Toro Rosso pairing of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne were the fastest of those eliminated in Q2.

Kvyat put in a lap that provisionally put him eighth in the closing stages of the session, but he was shuffled down the order by improvements by Magnussen, Button and Vettel, all of which were in the drop zone at times late on.

Sergio Perez was P13 ahead of Sauber driver Adrian Sutil, with Romain Grosjean P15.

Although Jules Bianchi was slowest in the middle part of qualifying, the Marussia driver was one of the stars in the wet qualifying session at Spa, reaching Q2 for the second consecutive year.

Pastor Maldonado appeared to have made it through to Q2 by improving his time on his final flying lap in a Q1 session that started off wet but improved throughout.

But the Lotus driver was bumped back down to P17 when Sutil also improved in the dying moments, with all the runners by then using intermediate rubber.

This also led to Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg being eliminated as he slipped down to P18 ahead of Marussia’s Max Chilton having been ahead of both Maldonado and Sutil as they started their final laps.

Hulkenberg admitted post-qualifying that he made a mistake at the end of his final lap, which cost him a couple of tenths. In addition, the ‘Hulk’ complained of a lack of braking feel.

Esteban Gutierrez did not have the opportunity to do a proper qualifying run as his Sauber stopped on his fifth lap while he was still on wet tyres.

This meant that the Mexican did not get to run in the best of the conditions, ending up ahead of the Caterhams.

Remarkably, Andre Lotterer outpaced his Caterham team-mate Marcus Ericsson to avoid starting his debut Grand Prix last, with the gap between the two almost one second.

Qualifying times from Spa-Francorchamps:

1. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              2m05.591s
2. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes              2m05.819s
3. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      2m07.717s
4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               2m07.786s
5. Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault      2m07.911s
6. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes     2m08.049s
7. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes      2m08.679s
8. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari               2m08.780s
9. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes     2m09.178s
10. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      2m09.776s
11. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault    2m09.377s
12. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault    2m09.805s
13. Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes  2m10.084s
14. Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari        2m10.238s
15. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         2m11.087s
16. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari      2m12.470s
17. Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault         2m11.261s
18. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  2m11.267s
19. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari      2m12.566s
20. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari        2m13.414s
21. Andre Lotterer        Caterham-Renault      2m13.469s
22. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault      2m14.438s

107 per cent time: 2m16.029s

6 thoughts to “Rosberg masters wet conditions to take Spa pole”

  1. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has blamed his brakes which affected his chance to challenge for pole at Spa. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton blamed brake problems for failing to beat Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Nico Rosberg to pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.

    Rosberg secured his fourth consecutive F1 pole at a wet Spa as Hamilton had to settle for second after finishing over two tenths of a second behind.

    The Briton said he was unable to push as much as he wanted because his brakes were not working properly.

    “This is a circuit where you have to have confidence in the brakes,” said Hamilton. “You could see in Q3 when I was going straight on as the left brake wasn’t working for some reason, I don’t know why.

    “It went into glazing. When it glazes it is very hard to recover, you have to put the brake balance forward. It’s not that easy to clear it.”

    He is confident that the problem will be solved overnight and allow him to be trouble-free in the race.

    “Over the evening you can scrub it and get rid of the glazing – when it goes shiny – so over the evening we should lose it and it will be OK for the race tomorrow.”

    Hamilton said he was very happy with second place, as he reckons it gives him a good chance to take the lead at the start.

    “I am not disappointed today,” he said. “If you look previous years P2 is best place to start here. I started from pole here last year and got overtaken by [Sebastian] Vettel.

    “I think it gives you the most opportunity at the start – I am happy to be up there.”

  2. Despite recording the third quickest in Q3, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel admitted the power deficit to the leading Silver Arrows. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel says a lack of power is the reason why his Red Bull was so far behind the Mercedes drivers in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying.

    The reigning Formula 1 world champion qualified third at Spa, but was a massive 2.126 seconds slower than polesitter Nico Rosberg, and 1.898s behind Lewis Hamilton.

    Vettel put the gap purely down to his Renault engine being down on power compared to the Mercedes V6.

    “The reason we’re behind is fairly simple,” said Vettel. “We know we are down on power.

    “Mercedes can run a bit more wing level, they have more downforce and can still take that wing on the straight – it is the reason.

    “Hopefully tomorrow we will be closer in race pace and closer than the last couple of races.”

    His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified fifth, said Red Bull had run a dry set-up in qualifying because it could not afford to compromise straightline speed with extra downforce.

    “Realistically we’ve set the car up for a dry race, so even though we’re typically quite strong in the wet, we knew that our set-up would bring us down to the level of some guys around us,” he said.

    “The gap to Mercedes was pretty big. We thought we’d be able to close it up a bit in the wet. They were quick straight away, and it hurts a little bit. But it’s alright.

    “An explanation for now is that we’ve banked a little bit on a dry race tomorrow so we’ve set the car up for that. In a nutshell, we’ve taken downforce off for that.

    “With the way our straightline speed is, we need a chance of fighting, moving forward or defending, and that’s why we’ve gone the way we have.”

    Ricciardo reckoned a wild trip over the run-off at Blanchimont on his last lap cost him “a few tenths”. He was 0.194s slower than his team-mate.

    “It wasn’t the quickest way around the corner, but when I went off I was just hoping to stay on some part of the track,” said the winner of the last race in Hungary.

    “There’s a big puddle just after the AstroTurf, and I was hoping it wasn’t just going to spit me into the wall.”

  3. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was left feeling surprised by how good the Scuderia’s pace was at Spa. has the details.

    Fernando Alonso admits he has been surprised by how strong his Ferrari Formula 1 team has been during the Belgian Grand Prix so far.

    The Spaniard said ahead of the weekend that he expected the Maranello squad to struggle to match main rival Williams at Spa and in the following race at Monza given the power of the Mercedes engine.

    However, Alonso qualified in fourth position on Saturday, two places ahead of the fastest Williams.

    The Ferrari driver said his weekend has been perfect so far.

    “It has been a good surprise,” said Alonso of Ferrari’s pace. “We’ll see how we can finish it tomorrow. Hopefully we take some good points.

    “We expected a strong Williams here, but I think the wet masked their true pace a little bit so tomorrow maybe I expect them to be very competitive in the dry.

    “I’m in front of the Williams, I’m one second in front of my team-mate, who has won here four times, so definitely it has been a perfect weekend so far.”

    Alonso, who finished second in the previous race in Hungary, believes another podium finish is a real possibility in Sunday’s race.

    “We’ll see. I think the possibility is there, no doubt,” said Alonso. “I think we are in a good position with fourth.

    “We have some people around us with good race pace, like [Daniel] Ricciardo and the Williams, and we’ll need to fight hard to be on the podium.

    “But we know that Mercedes has had some mechanical problems in the last races so we need to be there to take any opportunities.”

    Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished the session in eighth place and a full second behind Alonso.

    The Finn admitted his final flying lap had been far from perfect.

    “The car was pretty OK, but the conditions were quite difficult,” Raikkonen said.

    “I did quite a few mistakes in the last lap, I had to compromise my out-lap to get clear of traffic, so it was not the best way to start the lap and then I did some mistakes.”

  4. The Mercedes Formula 1 squad has not ruled out imposing future team orders on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but is changing communication methods after the Hungarian Grand Prix controversy.

    Following discussions between team chiefs and drivers Hamilton and Rosberg in Belgium on Thursday, Mercedes accepted that there were some mistakes made in its handling of the Hungary situation.

    But despite its drivers’ increasingly intense F1 title battle, Mercedes will not get rid of orders completely because there may be scenarios where its men have to help each other.

    However, Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff made clear ahead of the Belgian GP that it would not be so forceful in its phrasing.

    “What was being told to Nico was that Lewis was going to let him by, which is probably just not the right wording,” explained Wolff about the Hungarian GP situation.

    “And whether it was driven by instinct, intellect, or following procedures, whatever Lewis said was right in my opinion – that Nico can overtake me and I will not make his life difficult.

    “That is probably the only thing you can expect from the guy in front.

    “So we need to choose our words carefully. We must be aware in the heat of the battle.

    “It wasn’t the last time we encountered some controversy between the two and it wasn’t the last time we will have to learn and learn on the job.”

    The stance taken by Mercedes, which has effectively backed Hamilton’s decision to ignore orders in Hungary, does not appear to have gone down well with Rosberg.

    The German again declined to comment about the situation when asked on Saturday, and Wolff said it was inevitable there would be times when one drivers was not happy with decisions taken.

    “This is not only a race on the track, this is a race off the track as well,” he said.

    “Part of the race is positioning yourself and trying to make sure that you are in the best possible position with the relationships in the team in order to get the best out of the team for yourself.

    “I think that it is completely normal for the race drivers and any other individual to have ups and downs.

    “Sometimes you are happier, sometimes you are less happy and for us we need to make sure that we always extract the maximum from both of them.

    “That is why we want to give them the environment and the support they need to perform at their best.

    “But we are also not in the ‘let’s make everyone happy’ business. We need to take decisions and, if you take decisions, sometimes it swings to one side, and sometimes it swings to the other side.

    “What we need to be is always fair, transparent and straightforward, this is the only way we can cope with the situation of having two number one drivers.”


  5. Both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa missed out the chance to gain higher grid positions during the wet qualifying at Spa. The Williams team admitted it was an opportunity missed. has the news story.

    The Williams Formula 1 team has blamed the wet conditions, compromised set-up and braking issues for failing to qualify higher for the Belgian Grand Prix.

    The Grove outfit headed into the upcoming F1 two races at Spa and Monza expecting to enjoy its best chance yet of challenging the dominant factory Mercedes cars.

    Valtteri Bottas was fastest in dry conditions in the closing stages of final free practice on Saturday morning, but could only qualify sixth in the wet in the afternoon.

    Meanwhile team-mate Felipe Massa complained that brake issues hindered his performance, as he wound up a second adrift of Bottas in ninth.

    Bottas stopped short of saying Williams could have challenged Mercedes for the front row of the grid, but reckoned his team could have locked out row two in the dry.

    “The conditions didn’t help. Overall we would have been more competitive in the dry,” Bottas said. “Set-up wise everything for us is aimed for the dry.

    “We didn’t really get a clean out-lap in Q3 and lost a bit of tyre temperature. We still have work to do on the downforce on the car and to get the wet tyres to work a bit better.

    “We don’t know how much pace Mercedes had left – they were really quick in the wet – but for sure we could have had a go to get the car in top three if it was dry.

    “It was possible to be nearer if we’d got everything right, but it was not possible to challenge Mercedes in these conditions.”

    Massa reckoned he would have been right up with his team-mate but for one of his front brakes ‘glazing’ early in the session.

    “I had two problems,” Massa explained.

    “First of all, my front-right brake was glazed during the whole qualifying so I was struggling massively to brake in the heavy braking zones.

    “Then in Q3 I had a lot of traffic so I could not warm up the tyres in the good way, so I started the lap not in good shape and in the last sector I went off the track in corner 17 [Blanchimont] and lost minimum half a second.”

    Williams vehicle performance chief Rob Smedley admitted Williams should have qualified third and fourth if “everything had gone perfectly to plan”.

    “Based on yesterday, even if we weren’t stunning in the second sector, I think we were right there in that long train from third to seventh,” Smedley said.

    “We could have been third and fourth, but we’re sixth and ninth.

    “But you have to look at it from a pragmatic point of view and that was a wet, tricky qualifying session, and we could equally have had both cars 16th and 17th, or 17th and 18th, or one car in the wall!

    “We don’t have that, so there’s positives to take, but you always want more.”

  6. Mercedes and brake supplier Brembo have officially ruled out a quality control issue as the cause of the failure on Lewis Hamilton’s car in qualifying for July’s German Grand Prix.

    Hamilton crashed into the barriers in Q1 at Hockenheim due to a right front brake disc failure.

    Following detailed analysis that was undertaken after the accident, the team revealed on Sunday that the way the disc interacted with the Mercedes mounting was to blame.

    “First of all, both parties can now confirm that the quality of the disc material was not a contributory factor,” said a statement issued by the team.

    “Instead, extensive analysis and experimentation has demonstrated that the specific interaction between the structure of the brake material in question and the brake mounting on the F1 W05 Hybrid was at the root of the failure.

    “Countermeasures have already been applied to both the disc geometry and the mounting to ensure there can be no repeat of the failure.”

    Mercedes’ faith in Brembo materials means the team is once again using the Italian company’s discs at the rear of the car at the Belgian GP.


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