Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying

It feels like an age since the last Grand Prix but Hungary was just three weeks ago. Rosberg is only 11 points ahead of teammate Hamilton, with Ricciardo 60 points further back. (Points tables)

Initially Marussia announced that Max Chilton had been replaced by reserve driver Alexander Rossi for the Belgian GP due to unspecified “contractual issues”, but then said Rossi was only in for Free Practice 1 and Chilton would drive the rest of the weekend.

Caterham also announced a driver change: three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andre Lotterer will replace Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi.

Free Practice results:

  • FP1: ROS (1:51.577), HAM, ALO, BUT, RAI
  • FP2: HAM (1:49.189), ROS, ALO, MAS, BUT
  • FP3: BOT (1:49.465), RIC, ROS, RAI, HAM

My GridBids picks are: VET, ROS, HAM & BUT.

Tyre choices: prime = medium (white lettering) and options = soft (yellow)

Air temperature 9°C; track 21°C; humidity 92%
It’s not raining now but it did recently and the track is still damp

Qualifying 1 (Q1)
The two Marussia cars waiting at the pit exit; both Caterhams lining up behind them
Green light; Q1 starts
Some going out on intermediates, some on full wet tyres
KVY runs a little wide
BIA 2:16.474
ERI 2:15.829
KVY 2:14.966
VER 213.697
BOT 2:10.750
RIC 2:10.642
HAM is quick, but then he runs wide
HAM 2:09.492 despite running wide
New-boy LOT (Lotterer) has set a time – 2:21.679
HAM 2:07.587
GUT slowing; pulls off line and parks his Sauber on the edge of the track
5mins left of Q1; bottom 6 are SUT, GRO, CHI, RAI, ERI, LOT
(RAI P5; KVY to P17)
MAG runs wide
(KVY P8; PER to P17)
Radio for ROS – look after tyres, expecting rain shortly
HAM 2:07.280
SUT runs wide
2mins left; bottom 6 are MAL, SUT, CHI, GUT, ERI, LOT
On-board with MAL looks really wet
MAL spins
LOT faster than his teammate – goes P21
Chequered flag
(MAL 16; HUL to P17)
(SUT P15; MAL back to P17)
Back of the grid: MAL, HUL, CHI, GUT, LOT, ERI

Qualifying 2 (Q2)
Rain getting harder; track temperature down to 18°C
Radio for PER – expecting more rain in Q2
GRO 2:13.974
SUT 2:11.768
BUT 2:09.907
BOT 2:08.591
ALO 2:08.470
Only VER not on track at the moment
Radio from GRO – “there’s something wrong”
ROS runs wide
ROS 2:08.108
HAM 2:07.089
VER finally on track with about 6 mins left of Q2
ROS runs wide again
Radio from BUT – needs to change gloves when he pits for fresh tyres
5mins left of Q2; bottom 6 are KVY, PER, SUT, GRO, BIA, VER
(VER P12)
3mins left; bottom 6 are KVY, VER, PER, SUT, GRO, BIA
Rain easing off a little but it’s definitely still raining
(KVY P8)
HAM 2:06.609
ROS and ALO improve their times too
Chequered flag; bottom 6 are BUT, VER, SUT, PER, GRO, BIA
(GRO P13)
(BUT P9; VET to P11)
(VET P7; KVY to P11)
Middle of the grid: KVY, VER, PER, SUT, GRO, BIA

Qualifying 3 (Q3)
Battling over the top 10 grid spots are: HAM, ROS, ALO, BOT, RAI, MAS, VET, MAG, RIC & BUT
VET waiting for the lights to turn green
ROS and HAM follow VET onto the track
ALO runs wide on his out lap
Everyone still on inters
HAM runs a little wide in La Source but that’s hampered his speed
VET 2:08.141
HAM P2 – complaining car pulls to one side
ROS 2:05.698
ALO P3
MAS P4
VET has spun but continued
BOT P4
MAG P5
RIC P5
BUT P6
RAI P4
HAM P2
5mins left of Q3; order is ROS, HAM, VET, ALO, RAI, BOT, RIC, BUT, MAG, MAS
Sun increasing, rain pretty much stopped
ROS backs off, so he’ll have just one more quick lap
VET pushing hard but doesn’t improve his P3 time
Chequered flag; all 10 are on track
ALO runs wide
HAM using all the kerbs, which is brave when they’re this wet
RIC runs very wide
RIC P4
RAI P7
HAM P2
MAS P8
ALO P4
ROS 2:05.591
BOT P6
Front of the grid: ROS, HAM, VET, ALO, RIC, BOT, MAG, RAI, MAS, BUT

Forecast is for a dry race, so how many compromised their qualifying performance in order to set up the car for tomorrow?

Provisional grid: ROS, HAM, VET, ALO, RIC, BOT, MAG, RAI, MAS, BUT, KVY, VER, PER, SUT, GRO, BIA, MAL, HUL, CHI, GUT, LOT, ERI.

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