Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying

It’s been five weeks since the Hungarian Grand Prix but the Belgian GP weekend started just the same as the past few races … with heavy rain πŸ™ There was almost no running in Free Practice 1 or FP2, so I didn’t bother to create a separate blog entry.

Fortunately it’s dry for Qualifying, and the forecast is for race day to be dry too. Air temperature 16°C; track 26°C; wind 3m/s

Tyre compounds available this weekend: prime = hard (grey band) and option = medium (white band).

My GridBids picks for this race: SV, MW, JB, LH, FM, SP.

Alonso sits in his throne as he watches the Ferrari team prepare his car.

It’s Michael Schumacher’s 300th Grand Prix.

5-grid spot penalties await MW and NR for unscheduled gearbox changes.

Qualifying 1 (Q1)
CP waits at the end of the pit lane … and the lights turn green for the 20 minute Q1 session
CP 1:53.493
TG 1:53.205
NR 1:51.125
PRe 1:50.033
SP 1:49.642
Radio from MS – brakes locking – team say it’s brake/throttle overlap, i.e. driver error πŸ™‚
RG runs a little wide, kicks up some dust
FM fights his Ferrari through Turn 13
NK reacts quickly to prevent his car spinning around
10mins left of Q1
Radio from JB – complaining of understeer – seems he has this problem every weekend
FA 1:49.401
FM slowed by back-marker as he catches an HRT that’s recovering from a small off
JB 1:49.250 that moves the 107% target time to 1:56.897 – everyone’s inside it
5mins left; no lap time yet from SV but he’s on track
Incident involving PM & NH under investigation – impeding
3mins left; bottom 7 are MS, VP, TG, CP, HK, PRo, NK
PM 1:48.993 – he’s on options (medium compound) – 107%=1:56.622; all inside
LH & FA out on options too – are they wasting a set?
RG struggles but the Lotus runs wide in Puhon
Chequered flag
NR didn’t cross the line in time for another flying lap – he’s P18 and out of Qualifying
Bottom 7 are NR*, HK, VP, TG, CP, PRo, NK
*NR has a 5 grid spot penalty for a gearbox change

Qualifying 2
Track temperature up to 29°C
McLaren busy making a rear wing adjustment on JB’s car
SP 1:48.880
MW 1:48.662
FA 1:48.598
LH 1:48.563
KR 1:48.414
JB 1:47.654
BS loses the tail but keeps moving forward, regains control
5mins left of Q2; bottom 7 are MS, PRe, FM, JV, DR, PM, BS
Radio for KR telling him they don’t expect to run again in Q2
3mins left; time to leave the pits for one final flying lap
Only JB & KR remain in the pits, confident in going through to Q3
(FM P9, relegating NH)
Chequered flag
(JV P11)
(PM P9, relegating FM)
(NH P10, releg SP)
(SP P2, now NH P11)
(SV P11 – he’s not going through to Q3!)
Middle of the grid: SV, NH, MS, FM, JV, DR, BS

Qualifying 3
Battling over the top 10 grid spots: JB, SP, KR, MW*, LH, KK, FA, RG, PRe, PM
(*MW has a 5 grid spot penalty for a gearbox change)
KR 1:48.205
LH struggles with massive oversteer
JB 1:47.686
PM pits without setting a time
5mins left of Q3; only KR & JB have set lap times
Radio for JB confirms he’s 0.5sec faster than KR
3mins left; cars are heading back onto the track
FA sitting a long time in the garage without tyre warmers
LH has to jink around SP at the pit exit – why was SP almost stationary, blocking the exit? Will either driver get a penalty?
Chequered flag; order is JB, KR, and no other lap times, but everyone’s on track for a single flying lap
KK P2
PM P3
PRe P5
KR doesn’t improve on P4
MW P5
FA P5
JB 1:47.573 – I think his P1 time was already pretty safe
LH P7
SP P5
Front of the grid: JB, KK, PM, KR, SP, FA, MW*, LH, RG, PRe

That’s JB’s first ever pole for McLaren! πŸ™‚

Sauber P2 and P5, Williams P3 and Lotus P4 – what a mix of teams at the front!

Provisional grid: JB, KK, PM, KR, SP, FA, MW*, LH, RG, PRe, SV, NH, MS, FM, JV, DR, BS, NR*, HK, VP, TG, CP, PRo, NK. (MW & NR have 5 grid spot penalties for a gearbox change.)

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