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2010 Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps, Round 13, August 28th)

August 28, 2010

The layout of Spa-Francorchamps. © FIA

Free Practice 3
Despite Saturday morning starting out dry, there was not much running early in the session as the long Spa-Francorchamps circuit held onto occasion damp spots. Mark Webber used the shortened time to his advantage to secure the top time of third practice ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button.Hamilton returned to the old Silverstone-spec front wing package, while team mate Button kept the Hungaroring version. Vettel had a more turbulent session – the young German lost engine power during his final run as he suffered from problems with his air box; surprisingly, Vettel making use of an old engine this weekend.
Sauber already have Pedro de la Rosa on his 8th engine of the year as the Spaniard hits his maximum limit of power units, setting the 11th best time in the process. Vitantonio Liuzzi spent much of the session in the garage – the F-duct was removed from his Force India, leaving the Italian to set the 18th best time.
With 15 minutes left, the skies opened halting any fast runs.

Qualifying
It didn’t look like he would do it, but Mark Webber secured his fifth pole position of the 2010 Championship. All weekend the Red Bull driver looked like he might be pipped by his team mate, the McLaren’s and even the Ferrari’s, but Championship leader pulled a special lap out of the bag when it mattered.
He will be wary on the opening lap tomorrow though. The powerful Lewis Hamilton flanks the Australian on the front row, as he beat Robert Kubica to 2nd spot at the last moment. The Pole still beat the other Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel to lead the second row of the grid – they will also be very aware of the Mercedes powered Jenson Button in 5th spot as they head out on the opening lap.

Felipe Massa (6th) led the Ferrari’s in a poor session for Fernando Alonso (10th) – the Spaniard stayed out too long on his soft tyres during the session, negating any chance of an improved position. Rubens Barrichello led the Williams charge in 7th, with younger team mate Nico Hulkenberg in 9th; both the Cosworth powered cars sandwiched the Force India of Adrian Sutil who 8th quickest.
Rain returned in the final moments of qualifying, but it was not enough to slow the field.

A disappointing session for the Mercedes pair saw both drop out of qualifying after Q2, with Michael Schumacher leading the two. It’ll be a tough race for the German squad as both will also pick up penalties – Schumacher a ten-place drop for his antics at Hungary and Nico Rosberg a five-place drop for a gearbox change.
The two Toro Rosso’s also fell by the wayside, with Jaime Alguersuari heading Sebastien Buemi (13th & 15th respectively); however Buemi will also serve a penalty for impeding Rosberg. Vitantonio Liuzzi split the Italian cars with the 14th best time; not aided by a mid-run spin.
Both Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock made it through to Q2 following a crazy first session, but in the dry condition, the pair rounded up Q2 in 16th and 17th. Glock would also take a penalty for impeding Sakon Yamamoto in the opening 20-minute run.

In a manic opening session that was halted by a red flag, there were a number of minor shocks. Indeed while Kubica surged forward, his Renault team mate, Vitaly Petrov, dropped a tyre onto a wet kerb and was flung across the circuit and into the arms of the Armco barrier. It left the Russian in a dangerous position and the reds came out as the marshal’s cleared the stricken machine.
Both Sauber’s had offs that finished their sessions early. With little to lose, Pedro de la Rosa decide to go for an engine that resulted in a grid penalty for the Spaniard.

Rain fell during the twenty minute run resulting in a few spins, including a faint accident between Lucas di Grassi and Jarno Trulli. The Virgin wobbled midway around the circuit and was connected by Trulli; both spun around, but recovered with the Lotus rejoining by driving the wrong way down the gravel trap – stewards took no action.
Both Trulli and di Grassi would drop out of Q1 though, as too did the Hispania pair – for a time they looked like they just might make it to Q2, but were knocked out as the track dried.

Belgium, Qualifying (August 28th)
3rd Session
1  WEBBER        Red Bull      1m45.778s
2  HAMILTON      McLaren       1m45.863s
3  KUBICA        Renault       1m46.100s
4  VETTEL        Red Bull      1m46.127s
5  BUTTON        McLaren       1m46.206s
6  MASSA         Ferrari       1m46.314s
7  BARRICHELLO   Williams      1m46.602s
8  SUTIL         Force India   1m46.659s
9  HULKENBERG    Williams      1m47.053s
10 ALONSO        Ferrari       1m47.441s
2nd Session
11 ALGUERSUARI   Toro Rosso    1m48.267s
12 LIUZZI        Force India   1m48.680s
13 KOVALAINEN    Lotus         1m50.980s
14 ROSBERG       Mercedes      1m47.885s (*)
1st Session
15 TRULLI        Lotus         2m01.491s
16 BUEMI         Toro Rosso    1m49.209s (**)
17 KOBAYASHI     Sauber        2m02.284s
18 SENNA         HRT           2m03.612s
19 YAMAMOTO      HRT           2m03.941s
20 GLOCK         Virgin        1m52.049s (***)
21 SCHUMACHER    Mercedes      1m47.874s (****)
22 DI GRASSI     Virgin        2m18.754s
23 PETROV        Renault       no time
24 DE LA ROSA    Sauber        2m05.294s (*****)

* penalised 5 places for gearbox change
** penalised 3 places for impeding Rosberg
*** penalised 5 places for impeding Yamamoto
**** penalised 10 places after Hungarian GP
***** penalised 10 places for using 9th engine

Belgium, 3rd Free Practice (August 28th)
1  WEBBER        Red Bull      1m46.106s
2  HAMILTON      McLaren       1m46.223s
3  VETTEL        Red Bull      1m46.396s
4  BUTTON        McLaren       1m46.397s
5  KUBICA        Renault       1m46.492s
6  ALONSO        Ferrari       1m46.627s
7  MASSA         Ferrari       1m46.962s
8  SUTIL         Force India   1m47.064s
9  HULKENBERG    Williams      1m47.170s
10 KOBAYASHI     Sauber        1m47.296s
11 DE LA ROSA    Sauber        1m47.388s
12 PETROV        Renault       1m47.406s
13 BARRICHELLO   Williams      1m47.512s
14 SCHUMACHER    Mercedes      1m47.695s
15 ROSBERG       Mercedes      1m47.837s
16 BUEMI         Toro Rosso    1m47.905s
17 ALGUERSUARI   Toro Rosso    1m47.981s
18 LIUZZI        Force India   1m48.692s
19 TRULLI        Lotus         1m50.600s
20 SENNA         HRT           1m51.133s
21 KOVALAINEN    Lotus         1m51.384s
22 DI GRASSI     Virgin        1m51.517s
23 GLOCK         Virgin        1m51.669s
24 YAMAMOTO      HRT           1m52.001s

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