Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying

It feels like ages since the last race, but the season is back under way with my favourite circuit that I’ve never visited – Spa!

Qualifying Session 1 (Q1)
There’s a queue of cars at the pit lane exit – the forecast is for rain about halfway through Q1
JB on soft tyres – the other front runners are on the harder compound
VP has spun his Renault into the barriers on his out lap
Red flag – session stopped with 18:02 on the clock
Everyone lines up waiting for the session to restart
Green light – they pour out the pit lane … and it starts raining – this is going to be an exciting session!
MS tries to pass JT as they start their first flying lap but JT stays ahead
Chaos at Stavelot as a couple of cars run wide and another spins
JB 1:57.981
LH 1:56.706
Incident at Turn 14 under investigation – replay shows LdG and JT touching and spinning
SV on intermediates but it’s dry in the pit lane and Eau Rouge
Pit-car for SV says to watch his split times – if he’s not improving his time then pit and don’t waste a set of inters
Looks like it’s stopped raining and the track’s already drying
(SV P3)
5mins left of Q1; bottom 7 are AS, BS, SB, JA, HK, LDG, VP
AS jumps from P18 to P5
BS manages P15 in the HRT Cosworth
Looks like slicks for the final flying lap
RK 1:56.041
KK off at Turn 8 and he’s stuck in the gravel – replay shows he aquaplaned under braking
(FA P3)
PdlR off into the tyre wall – lost the back end under braking
(NH P4)
Chequered flag – current lap counts
NR 1:54.826
(NH P2)
(RB P3)
Back of the grid: P18=JT, 19=KK, 20=BS, 21=SY, 22=PDLR, 23=LDG, 24=VP
Don’t forget MS has a 10 grid spot penalty waiting for him after his ridiculously dangerous attempt to push RB into the pit wall in the previous race

Qualifying Session 2 (Q2)
Force India report no rain expected in Q2
Only HK in the pits – everyone else hits the track – all on dry tyres – LH on the option (soft) tyre
It’s still damp out there
LH 1:50.794
(JB P2)
(NR P2)
(MW P2)
VL spins in Stavelot
LH 1:49.853
(JA P2)
FA off across the gravel but finds the track again
MS 1:49.028
FM sideways off the track and into the gravel but he manages to keep the Ferrari moving
SV 1:48.710
5mins left; bottom 7 are NR, RB, JB, SB, TG, VL, HK
Track is still drying out
3mins left – final flying laps
JB twitches in Stavelot – there’s still a few damp patches
JB 1:47.421
(FA P2)
LH 1:46.441
(FM P3)
LH on another fast lap
Chequered flag
LH 1:46.211
TG can’t improve on P17 – he’s over 1sec behind HK (P16)
MS demoted to P11 by NH and MW
Session ends; middle of the grid will be: P11=MS*, 12=NR, 13=JA, 14=VL, 15=SB, 16=HK, 17=TG

Qualifying Session 3 (Q3)
Fighting over the top 10 grid sports are LH, JB, SV, MW, AS, RK, FM, FA, RB, NH
That’s a smoky McLaren waiting at the pit lane exit – fortunately LH doesn’t have to sit there for very long before the light turns green
Pit-car for AS suggests he tries 6th gear through Pouhon as the track’s drying
LH clearly pushing very hard – lots of kerb and a little twitchy
LH 1:46.203
RK 1:46.100
(SV P2)
MW 1:45.778
After 1 flying lap, the order is MW, RK, SV, LH, FM, JB, NH, RB, FA, AS
(RB P7)
(AS P8)
Quick change of tyres for the final flying laps
It’s raining in the pit lane
Pit-car radio for SV confirms spots of rain in Turn 1 “but don’t let that bother you”
FM runs wide and catches the end of the gravel trap but ploughs on
Chequered flag
FA can’t improve on P10
(JB P5)
(LH P2)
The rain helped MW hold on to pole
Front of the grid: P1=MW, 2=LH, 3=RK, 4=SV, 5=JB, 6=FM, 7=RB, 8=AS, 9=NH, 10=FA

Provisional grid: MW, LH, RK, SV, JB, FM, RB, AS, NH, FA, (MS*) NR, JA, VL, SB, HK, TG, JT, KK, BS, SY, MS, PdlR, LdG, VP
*10 grid spot penalty for MS drops him from P11 to P21