Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying

It’s been three weeks since the last race when Jenson Button won the Hungarian Grand Prix. It’s also 20 years since Michael Schumacher’s debut! Mark Webber has confirmed he has re-signed with Red Bull for next year, and it’s his birthday tomorrow.

Bruno Senna has replaced NH in the Renault for this (and, it’s rumoured, the next) race.

Tyre compounds for this weekend are medium (white band) and soft (yellow), although the intermediate and maybe even full wet tyres are likely to get a lot of use 🙂

MS was fastest in Free Practice 1 – only he and Mercedes teammate NR posted lap times before the rain; PD spun and hit the tyre wall, resulting in a brief red flag.

FP2 was headed by MW, followed by FA, JB, LH, FM & NR although the rain arrived about 35mins into the session and effectively put an end to it.

This morning’s FP3 was very wet; MW was fastest again, followed by LH, JA, JB, SV & SB.

Rain is forecast again for Qualifying; although it’s not raining right now the track is wet.

Qualifying 1
Lights turn green; long line of cars waiting to get on track
Looks like everyone’s going out on intermediates (blue ring)
MS off – his right-rear wheel came off and he spun off the wall and into the gravel trap. Not a good way to mark his 20th anniversary
JA 2:14.320
SB 2:11.806
LH 2:09.506
No dry line as yet but at least it’s not raining
SV 2:07.723
MW 2:06.872
Pit-car for JB says they expect it to continue to get drier, but SV’s told it’s going to rain in 3-4 laps time
10mins left = halfway through Q1; still no time from VL, DR (and MS)
BBC report clouds forming off to the edge of the circuit
SV 2:06.595
MW 2:04.481
LH 2:04.240
A dry list is starting to appear in a couple of places
7mins left; everyone bar PD & MS on track
JB 2:03.882
LH 2:03.008
5mins left of Q1
Force India have put both their drivers on new sets of inters
JB 2:01.813 – there’s now 5 drivers outside the 107% mark: JD, DR, VL, TG & MS
FA & FM are in the pits
2mins left; bottom 7 are HK, JT, JD, DR, VL, TG & MS
NR tries to pass, outbrakes himself into the final chicane
PD touches a white line and spins; recovers but he’s only got 1 lap left to improve his time
Chequered flag; bottom 7 are HK, JT, JD, DR, VL, TG & MS
HK has traffic but still manages to jump to P17, pushing PD out
Back of the grid will be PD, JT, TG, JD, VL, DR, MS … assuming they’re all allowed to compete despite not meeting the 107% time (2:10.339)

Qualifying 2
Light rain
JA and SB first on track but everyone wants to post a good time before the rain gets heavier
JA 2:10.471
SB 2:09.421
FA 2:09.208
JB 2:07.232
(LH P2)
(MW P2)
SV 2:07.085
AS loses the tail coming over the brow out of Eau Rouge (through Raidillon); belts the barrier and wrecks his suspension; pulls the Force India off track
MW 2:06.644
Red flags (session suspended) so they can clear the debris from AS’ incident; 6:53 left on the clock for Q2; bottom 7 are FA, SP, BS, RB, KK, PM, HK
Queue forming at the end of the pit lane, waiting for the lights to turn green
Pit-car for BS tell him to push for all 3 laps
FA whining like a little girl that the cars in front won’t let him pass – awwwww, poor thing
FA holds everyone up through the final chicane, then struggles to make it through Turn 1
SB 2:06.310
2mins left; bottom 7 are SP, PM, NR, FM, RB, KK, HK
FA 2:06.119
JB 2:05.150
MW 2:04.542
SV 2:03.317
Chequered flag; FA is the last to cross the line before the flag
LH 2:02.823, jumping up from P12
Bottom 7 are VP, FA, SP, RB, AS, PM, HK but there are still people on one final flying lap
JB is falling down the table as everyone leapfrogs him
PM pulls alongside LH and clearly side-swipes the McLaren!!!!!!!
Maldonado should be suspended, if not have his super license revoked for that deliberate collision!!
Damage to LH’s car – will he be able to take part in Q1?
Middle of the grid: SB, KK, JB(!), RB, AS, PM, HK

Qualifying 3
The top 10 shootout will be between SV, MW, LH, FA, FM, NR, BS, VP, SP & JA
FM loses the tail and runs through the gravel – he’s on soft tyres
LH finally leaves the garage – fortunately PM didn’t cause too much damage
NR started on inters but he’s pitting for slicks
SP 1:58.312
FA 1:54.550
MW 1:53.798
(FM P2)
(FA P3)
(JA P5)
(BS P6)
SP 1:52.896
MW 1:50.875
(FM P2)
(LH P2)
(SV P2)
(NR P9)
2mins left; order is MW, SV, LH, FM, JA, SP, BS, FA, NR, VP
MW 1:49.376
(LH P2)
SV 1:49.180
(NR P5)
Chequered flag
Sparks from the front wing as LH’s McLaren bounces over the bumps
LH 1:48.730
SV 1:48.298
Front of the grid: SV, LH, MW, FM, NR, JA, BS, FA, SP, VP
P2’s not bad for a car with duct tape holding it together!!

Unfortunately TSN cuts the feed before we get to see LH park his McLaren in parc ferme – I wonder if he’ll visit Maldonado’s garage?

Provisional grid: SV, LH, MW, FM, NR, JA, BS, FA, SP, VP, SB, KK, JB, RB, AS, PM, HK, PD, JT, TG, JD, VL, DR, MS … but that’s assuming (a) PM isn’t penalised and (b) those that didn’t make the 107% time requirement are allowed to compete on Sunday.

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