After the long summer break, the drivers took to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit for qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix.
After the deluge of rain during Friday practice, the sun was out during the qualifying session and in Q1 Sauber’s Sergio Perez was the first driver to get under the 1 minute 50 barrier with a 1:49.642.
Felipe Massa, Narain Karthikeyan and Romain Grosjean all ran wide on various parts of the ‘green’ circuit as the challenging track caught a few drivers out.
Championship leader Fernando Alonso took the top spot with eight minutes to go on a 1:49.401. But then controversial Williams driver, Pastor Maldonado took it off him with a 1:48.993 on the softer tyre.
The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and Lotus driver, Kimi Raikkonen left it late to set their laps, but all made it successfully to Q2.
Suprise casualty of the session was Nico Rosberg as he mistimed the chequered flag and failed to get to the line to start his flying lap.
Out in Q1 were: Nico Rosberg, Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Timo Glock, Pedro de la Rosa, Charles Pic, Narain Karthikeyan
Perez was the first to set a competitive lap in Q2, but Webber, Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Raikkonen all set faster laps to show their pace. Jenson Button, on his first flying lap set a 1:47.654 to move the bar for his rivals.
Six-time Spa winner, Michael Schumacher was in the drop zone along with Massa, while Vettel, in 10th, had 3 minutes to get out on circuit and make sure he didn’t drop out in the dying minutes of the session. All three failed to make it into the top 10.
Q2 losers were: Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo, Bruno Senna
Button continued to set the pace and a 1:47.686 lap left him on provisional pole with 5 minutes remaining, just half a second faster than Raikkonen.
With 8 drivers choosing to put in a time in the last few minutes, there was frantic activity on track as they all looked to beat the McLaren driver.
But he couldn’t be beaten and the British driver took his first pole position since 2009 and his first for the team.
Paul di Resta
By Stephen Turvil
Sat, 01 Sep 2012