Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel secured his eighth pole position of the season ahead of today’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
A late run in drying conditions was enough to give the reigning Champion a four-tenths advantage over McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
It was a reassuring run for Hamilton who survived an assault from William’s Pastor Maldonado at the end of Q2. As that stint drew to a close, the Venezuelan appeared to deliberately swipe Hamilton on the exit of La Source, earning Maldonado a five place grid penalty.
Mark Webber assumed 3rd on the grid following his final run, although the Australian lost time through the final sector behind Sergio Perez (Sauber).
Felipe Massa once again out-qualified Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso.
Nico Rosberg broke into the top five in his his Mercedes machine, but the real surprise came from Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari, who powered his way to 6th on the grid.
Bruno Senna went some way to silencing his critics with a good effort to 7th place, three places and 1.2 seconds quicker than fellow Renault pilot Vitaly Petrov, while Alonso and Perez took 8th and 9th respectively.
Both Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) and Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) only just missed out on the final portion of qualifying.
Remarkably, Jenson Button could only manage 13th in his McLaren. The Briton was brought in early during the session, only to fall down the order as the track began to dry out.
Rubens Barrichello leads the charge for Williams in 14th place, ahead of Adrian Sutil (15th) who crashed his Force India lightly at the top of Eau Rouge.
A good session for Heikki Kovalainen means he starts 16th for Team Lotus, two spots ahead of veteran teammate Jarno Trulli.
Paul di Resta lost out in Q1. Like Button, the Force India driver was called into the pits with a time that was assumed to be safe, only for the Scot to drop out as the chequered flag flew.
Timo Glock leads an all-Virgin tenth row, ahead of the penalised Maldonado.
Vitantonio Liuzzi and Daniel Ricciardo assumed 22nd and 23rd respectively for HRT F1, while a lose wheel ended Michael Schumacher’s qualifying before he had even set a lap.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m48.298s 2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m48.730s + 0.432 3. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m49.376s + 1.078 4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m50.256s + 1.958 5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.552s + 2.254 6. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m50.773s + 2.475 7. Bruno Senna Renault 1m51.121s + 2.823 8. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m51.251s + 2.953 9. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m51.374s + 3.076 10. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m52.303s + 4.005 Q2 cut-off time: 2m04.625s Gap ** 11. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2m04.692s + 1.924 12. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2m04.757s + 1.989 13. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m05.150s + 2.382 14. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 2m07.349s + 4.581 15. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2m07.777s + 5.009 16. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 2m08.354s + 5.586 Q1 cut-off time: 2m07.194s Gap * 17. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 2m07.758s + 5.945 18. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 2m07.773s + 5.960 19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2m09.566s + 7.753 20. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 2m11.601s + 9.788 21. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 2m08.106s + 5.338 *** 22. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 2m11.616s + 9.803 23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 2m13.077s + 11.264 24. Michael Schumacher Mercedes no time 107% time: 2m10.339s * Gap to quickest in Q1 ** Gap to quickest in Q2 *** 5-place grid penalty