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Webber Takes Pole in Exciting Spa Quali

August 28, 2010

Mark Webber secured yet another Red Bull pole this afternoon, when F1 returned from its four week summer break, setting a time of 1:45.778, a tenth fastest than Lewis Hamilton, who charged his way to the front row of the grid.

All 24 cars headed out onto the track for the start of Q1, with rain threatening halfway through the session. The track still hadn’t completely dried out from earlier rain, and Vitaly Petrov became a casualty to the turn 9 kerb, causing a red flag to hault the session, just 90 seconds in. Once Petrov’s Renault was removed from the side of the track, the lights turned green, but the rains soon came after the cars dived back out onto the track.

All the drivers were on the soft compound tyre as they headed out for a banker lap, and as the rain started to fall heavier, it was a case of making it round the track to set a time, without running off the road. Jarno Trulli and Lucas di Grassi touched into turn 14, and the pair spun off the track, almost collecting Michael Schumacher, while Adrian Sutil ran wide in the gravel. Schumacher then set the first time, followed by a faster lap time from Jenson Button. The rain started to get heavier, but Hamilton was charging, setting the fastest time of anybody, before they all dove back into the pits. Sebastian Vettel looked to be in danger of the dropout zone, setting the 17th fastest time just after Hamilton set his fastest time, but the German was able to restore his hopes a little while later, heading out on intermediate tyres.

As the track started to dry out the drivers started heading out onto the track on fresh slicks, leaving the McLarens in the garage. Robert Kubica topped Hamilton’s time with two minutes to go, while Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa proved it wasn’t entirely dry out on track as they both ended up in the gravel and out of contention. Nico Rosberg ended up setting the fastest lap in the 1:54s in the closing seconds of the session, leaving Trulli, Kobayashi, Bruno Senna, Sakon Yamamoto, de la Rosa, di Grassi and Petrov in the dropout zone and out of the running in 18th down to 24th.

The track continued to dry in Q2, and the 17 drivers headed out for a banker lap. Hamilton topped the time sheets, with an improved overall time from Q1 with 1:46.211, while Schumacher, Rosberg, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Sebastien Buemi, Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock found themselves in the dropout zone. Schumacher receives a ten-place grid-drop penalty for his incident with Rubens Barrichello in Hungary, and will start 21st, while Rosberg will start 17th following a five-place grid-drop penalty for changing his gearbox. The bottom 14 will line up on the grid with Alguersuari 11th, Liuzzi, Buemi, Kovalainen, Glock and Trulli, 12th down to 16th, Rosberg 17th, Kobayashi, Senna and Yamamoto 18th to 20th, Schumacher 21st, and de la Rosa, di Grassi and Petrov 22nd to 24th, respectively.

Q3 saw the ten remaining drivers head out for a banker lap as the lights went green, with Hamilton in the lead, setting the fastest lap, with Felipe Massa setting second, Button third, and Fernando Alonso fourth. Kubica then made a move to set first, with Vettel snatching second, before Mark Webber scored the fastest time. Barrichello, Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg then set their fastest times, putting Alonso down to tenth.

The drivers pitted for fresh rubber, and as they started to head out onto track, it started to rain. As the track got wetter, it looked like a dead cert that Webber would take pole, with Kubica separating him from Vettel, and sure enough, Alonso crossed the line at the chequered flag unable to improve on tenth, Massa pulled into the pits before he had a chance to cross the line, after running wide earlier in the lap, and Vettel crossed the line to remain third. But, Button, who by that point was down to sixth, was able to improve in the McLaren, pulling out a time good enough for fifth, and, while despite the rain, the last man on track, Hamilton, pulled out a blinder to set a time a tenth off Webber, for second, demoting Kubica from the front row.

Kubica and Vettel make up the second row, with Button and Massa on row three. Barrichello and Sutil will start seventh and eighth, with Hulkenberg and Alonso in ninth and tenth on row five.

Webber’s pole adds to Red Bull’s string of all-but-one for the season, but with the straight-line speed of the McLaren, Hamilton will be fancying his chances through Eau Rouge at the start of tomorrow’s race.

With 20 points separating the top five drivers in the standings, there is everything to play for in tomorrow’s race. Will the weather spring its usual surprise on the drivers, and rain? And will McLaren’s straight-line speed advantage in sectors one and three give them the complete upper hand over Red Bull? We will see tomorrow. The race starts live on BBC1 at 1pm.

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One comment

  1. […] All 24 cars headed out onto the track for the start of Q1, with rain threatening halfway through the session. The track still hadn’t completely dried out from earlier rain, and Vitaly Petrov became a casualty to the turn 9 kerb, causing a red flag to hault the session, just 90 seconds in. Once Petrov’s Renault was removed from the side of the track, the lights turned green, but the rains soon came after the cars dived back out onto the track… More […]



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