Bruno Senna, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

Alguersuari and Senna shine in wet qualifying

2011 Belgian GP qualifying analysis

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Bruno Senna, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011
Bruno Senna, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

There were some stand-out performances in mixed conditions in qualifying at Spa.

Jaime Alguersuari claimed a career-best sixth on the grid for Toro Rosso.

And Bruno Senna beat his team mate in his first race for Renault.

Qualifying times in full

  • Fernando Alonso had his worst qualifying performance of the year, at a track where he also qualified poorly last year. He blamed traffic for his Q3 time: “Unfortunately, I hardly ever managed to get a clean lap because on both my second and third laps I found Perez ahead of me and on the last one I had to slow at the entrance to the chicane to let Webber pass, otherwise I might have been penalised.”
  • Stefano Domenicali said the team also had their usual problem with tyre warm-up in cool temperatures: “We managed to get through the first two sessions in the wet in one piece but then, once we switched to the dry tyres, the chronic problem that has characterised our season was clear to see, even more so here than elsewhere, namely the difficult in getting the tyres to work well in low temperatures and on a damp track.”
Driver Car Q1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 2’03.029 2’03.317 (+0.288) 1’48.298 (-15.019)
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 2’03.008 2’02.823 (-0.185) 1’48.730 (-14.093)
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 2’02.827 2’03.302 (+0.475) 1’49.376 (-13.926)
4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2’05.834 2’04.507 (-1.327) 1’50.256 (-14.251)
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2’05.091 2’03.723 (-1.368) 1’50.552 (-13.171)
6 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 2’05.419 2’04.561 (-0.858) 1’50.773 (-13.788)
7 Bruno Senna Renault 2’05.047 2’04.452 (-0.595) 1’51.121 (-13.331)
8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2’04.450 2’02.768 (-1.682) 1’51.251 (-11.517)
9 Sergio Perez Sauber 2’06.284 2’04.625 (-1.659) 1’51.374 (-13.251)
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 2’05.292 2’03.466 (-1.826) 1’52.303 (-11.163)
11 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 2’04.744 2’04.692 (-0.052)
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 2’07.194 2’04.757 (-2.437)
13 Jenson Button McLaren 2’01.813 2’05.150 (+3.337)
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams 2’05.720 2’07.349 (+1.629)
15 Adrian Sutil Force India 2’06.000 2’07.777 (+1.777)
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams 2’05.621 2’08.106 (+2.485)
17 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 2’06.780 2’08.354 (+1.574)
18 Paul di Resta Force India 2’07.758
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus 2’08.773
20 Timo Glock Virgin 2’09.566
21 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 2’11.601
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 2’11.616
23 Daniel Ricciardo HRT 2’13.077
24 Michael Schumacher Mercedes

Team mate comparisons

Compare the best times of each team’s drivers in the last part of qualifying in which they both set a time.

  • Jaime Alguersuari qualified an excellent sixth for Toro Ross. Technical director Giorgio Ascanrlli said: “for the race, we are experimenting with two very different trims on the cars.”
  • Bruno Senna out-qualified Vitaly Petrov in his first race, something Nick Heidfeld only managed three times in 11 attempts. Petrov spun during one of his attempts in Q3.
  • The gaps between drivers were generally much larger owing to the conditions. But there was only a tenth between the Sauber and Toro Rosso team mates in Q2, and in both cases it was the difference between which was knocked out and which one stayed in.
Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Round
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’48.298 -1.078 1’49.376 Mark Webber Q3
McLaren Lewis Hamilton 2’02.823 -2.327 2’05.150 Jenson Button Q2
Ferrari Fernando Alonso 1’51.251 +0.995 1’50.256 Felipe Massa Q3
Renault Bruno Senna 1’51.121 -1.182 1’52.303 Vitaly Petrov Q3
Williams Rubens Barrichello 2’07.349 -0.757 2’08.106 Pastor Maldonado Q2
Force India Adrian Sutil 2’06.000 -1.758 2’07.758 Paul di Resta Q1
Sauber Kamui Kobayashi 2’04.757 +0.132 2’04.625 Sergio Perez Q2
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 2’04.692 +0.131 2’04.561 Jaime Alguersuari Q2
Lotus Heikki Kovalainen 2’06.780 -1.993 2’08.773 Jarno Trulli Q1
HRT Daniel Ricciardo 2’13.077 +1.461 2’11.616 Vitantonio Liuzzi Q1
Virgin Timo Glock 2’09.566 -2.035 2’11.601 Jerome D’Ambrosio Q1

Sector times

Here are the drivers? best times in each sector.

  • Interestingly, the fastest time in the downforce-critical middle sector was not set by a Red Bull, but Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. It suggests their new rear wing, designed to give a greater benefit when using DRS and allow them to run more downforce, is working as intended.
  • The Mercedes-powered cars have been very fast through the first sector where straight-line speed is all important, and sure enough Nico Rosberg was fastest here.
  • We didn’t get to see what the Force Indias might have been capable of in Q3 after their strong performance in practice. Keep an eye out for them in the race.
Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel 31.738 (2) 47.800 (2) 28.747 (1)
Lewis Hamilton 32.066 (6) 47.708 (1) 28.865 (2)
Mark Webber 31.915 (3) 48.339 (3) 29.074 (5)
Felipe Massa 32.082 (7) 48.928 (4) 29.114 (7)
Nico Rosberg 31.582 (1) 49.926 (8) 28.991 (3)
Jaime Alguersuari 32.149 (8) 49.363 (6) 29.197 (9)
Bruno Senna 32.430 (10) 49.520 (7) 29.080 (6)
Fernando Alonso 32.022 (5) 49.261 (5) 29.235 (10)
Sergio Perez 31.994 (4) 50.387 (9) 28.993 (4)
Vitaly Petrov 32.282 (9) 50.547 (10) 29.163 (8)
Sebastien Buemi 33.516 (16) 58.547 (14) 31.203 (12)
Kamui Kobayashi 33.625 (17) 58.758 (15) 31.698 (14)
Jenson Button 32.998 (11) 57.505 (11) 30.995 (11)
Rubens Barrichello 33.359 (13) 59.680 (18) 31.938 (16)
Adrian Sutil 33.207 (12) 58.414 (13) 31.755 (15)
Pastor Maldonado 33.417 (15) 59.286 (17) 31.670 (13)
Heikki Kovalainen 33.882 (18) 58.081 (12) 32.248 (17)
Paul di Resta 33.395 (14) 58.879 (16) 32.518 (19)
Jarno Trulli 34.393 (20) 60.305 (19) 32.454 (18)
Timo Glock 34.465 (22) 61.272 (20) 33.829 (21)
Jerome D’Ambrosio 35.229 (23) 62.864 (21) 33.508 (20)
Vitantonio Liuzzi 34.434 (21) 63.027 (22) 33.869 (23)
Daniel Ricciardo 34.343 (19) 63.986 (23) 33.857 (22)
Michael Schumacher

Speed trap

Here are the drivers? maximum speeds.

  • Red Bull are running noticeably thinner rear wings than their rivals, which may explain their rare appearance near the top of the fastest speeds. The speed trap at Spa is positioned close to the exit of Eau Rouge, and the higher speed they can carry through the corner will also play a role.
  • Both Mercedes as well as Jenson Button have said they are running dry weather set-ups.
Pos Driver Car Speed (kph) Gap
1 Sergio Perez Sauber 300.9
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 299.5 -1.4
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 298.8 -2.1
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 298.6 -2.3
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 296.0 -4.9
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 295.6 -5.3
7 Bruno Senna Renault 293.9 -7.0
8 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 293.5 -7.4
9 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 292.7 -8.2
10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 285.5 -15.4
11 Pastor Maldonado Williams 282.7 -18.2
12 Jenson Button McLaren 282.5 -18.4
13 Adrian Sutil Force India 281.3 -19.6
14 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 280.5 -20.4
15 Paul di Resta Force India 277.1 -23.8
16 Rubens Barrichello Williams 277.1 -23.8
17 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 274.8 -26.1
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 266.2 -34.7
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 260.1 -40.8
20 Timo Glock Virgin 257.2 -43.7
21 Daniel Ricciardo HRT 255.9 -45.0
22 Jarno Trulli Lotus 252.8 -48.1
23 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 250.5 -50.4
24 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 180.6 -120.3

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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32 comments on “Alguersuari and Senna shine in wet qualifying”

  1. Way to go these two.

  2. Senna showed his true colours.

  3. Senna’s performance has certainly made me rethink my previous opinion of disliking him being brought into the car.

    Yet, Spa and Monza are the circuits that will allow midfield teams to mix it a bit, so perhaps his performance may be exaggerated a tad… good qualifying though by Senna (and Alguersuari) though, we’ll see how he gets on.

    1. Yes, a wet Spa is probably one of the easiest to get a great result on team debut…. perhaps a raining Monaco would be better?

      1. I wouldn’t say easiest…

    2. I agree. Am I crazy for thinking that having watched the moving/powerful “Senna” documentary he became to believe/realize that there may be a deeper source of focus/talent/will inside himself that we wasn’t tapping?

    3. My exact feeling. Though after the turn 1 accident this has changed…

  4. Senna seemed on it all weekend (apart from the brief time when he was in the barrier). It was wonderful to watch him. I kept thinking “oh, he’s doing quite well” but at the end of the day I expected Petrov to out qualify him by a couple of tenths so that was a great surprise. That Renault must be a dream compared to the HRT too.

    Jaime was very good as well. It’ll be interesting to see how he and Buemi do in the race if they’ve gone for very different set ups.

    The saddest thing about today was what happened with Michael. What a way for his anniversary weekend to go but hopefully he’ll give us a cracking race tomorrow.

    1. Yeah, shame about Schumi, but on the other hand it gives him the opportunity to do something really special tomorrow.

    2. I was really gutted for Schumacher. Remember what happened to Barrichello last year for his 300th Grand Prix? Spa is cursed!

      Let’s hope he has a better race. Can’t go much worse.

  5. Fully agree with that assessment Keith.

    I must say I have been very sceptical of Senna’s speed indeed, but he has already shown he deserves a chance. But it surely means either their car likes the cold temperatures, or Renault has found something to get back on the pace.
    And Alguearsuari proves once again, that he can do the job if he puts his heart into it. Didn’t he have his last best grid position after a wet/damp qualifying as well?

    1. I think his best was in Shanghai, where he qualified 8th (or somewhere around 8th), which was dry, but a crazy session nonetheless.

  6. It’s interesting to see the top Mercedes engine powered car is only sixth in through the speed trap. Real shame for Schumacher, I really think he could have got well into the top ten today.

  7. wow a 26kph speedtrap difference between KOB and PER! interesting…

    1. It was a lot drier in Q3, it’ll just be that I reckon. Still it does suggest Perez had a good run through Eau Rouge on his lap.

      1. ah yes of course. Also just so people know, 300kph is nowhere near the top speed at the end of the kemmel straight this year. we’re talking more like 325kph+ which is 200mph+

        1. Which makes me wonder… Who won’t be able to pass because the rev limited kicks in this year?

      2. Also of note, in 2009 Luca Badoer was fastest through the Eau Rouge speed trap, he just didn’t carry the speed through… as evidence by him being a bit rubbish.

        That nickname article Keith did a while ago, some journalists were calling Luca Badoer “Look how bad you are”!

        This is why we can’t have nice things.

  8. The Toro Rossos always seem to be strong in the wet for some reason. It’s nice to see them mix it up with Saubers and even get ahead of Force India.
    It’s odd seeing Fernando qualify 8th. To be honest, he’s almost been invisible this weekend. Haven’t seen much of him at all. I wonder if it’s got something to do with the car or is it just that Spa isn’t exactly his favourite track?
    Tomorrow seems like it’s going to be an exciting race, I hope we see someone different on the podium!

    1. I too hope we see a different podium result than usual, Massa and Rosberg both stand a great chance of making it there, and who knows, an unpredictable race could give the likes of Senna and Alguersuari a chance too!

      As far as Alonso’s poor form, I think he just struggles at Spa. It’s something he needs to fix if he wants to be truly counted among the all time greats.

      Schumacher, Senna, Clark, Fangio, Prost, Lauda, Raikkonen are all multiple winners at Spa.

      Alonso’s best result was 2nd in 2005, nearly 30 seconds behind Kimi.

  9. I didn’t expect Bruno to be better than Nick, but I’m glad he surprised us;-) Comparing his sector times and speed trap of 81.64 m/s with Petrov’s sector times and speed trap of 79.31 m/s and also comparing with those around him, it is evident that Bruno and his race engineer has got something right, to exploit the potential of the Renault. Can’t wait to see him race tomorrow.
    Hopefully Schumacher will move up through the field, to where he supposedly should be, without any accidents – it is his anniversary after all.

  10. To be fair to Petrov, he probbly did the least running of anyone on the field after he had that steering problem in FP2. So for him to make Q3 at all was a pretty good effort.

  11. Maybe the time and tricks he learned at HRT are working now..

  12. Senna surprised me actually, so much so it makes me wonder just how fast the Renault really is.

  13. So happy for Senna, it seems most people are changing there opinions of him now. Hopefully he can have a clean race and score some points. Maybe my race prediction is possible. :)

  14. Looking at Kimi’s performance on a track like spa..i wonder why isn’t he counted in the greats…whereas alonso who’s not yet won on a real driver’s circuit is..??

  15. How slow is Ricciardo…

    i am amazed no one is saying anything about this guya while Narain has been labelled “slowest driver on the grid”, this guy is even slower..!!!

    1. He is slow but narain is worst I can beat both of them blind folded

    2. Ricciardo has next to no experience next to Narain.

  16. I’ve missed these articles. Great analysis.

  17. People seem to have forgotten that Bruno had his career interrupted for almost 10 years, after Ayrton’s death, during his critical early days in karts.

    What he achieved so far (runner-up in GP2, one year in F1 generally beating his team-mate) is remarkable in itself, given his deep lack of experience when compared to any other driver of his age.

    I always thought he had plenty of raw speed and natural talent, things that shine brighter in conditions like those in Spa yesterday.

    My only concern about him, that I still have, is that these “lost years” might lock part of his true potential, in terms of delivering consistent results, slowing his development until he reaches an age when he’ll be too old for Formula 1.

    Apart from that, I’m sure his capable of one-off brilliant performances like these, or even of winning a race if given the right car. Far from sure when it comes to winning a WDC, for the reasons said above…

    If he keeps delivering results beyond expectations, Renault will be deeply sorry for not putting him on the car since the beginning of the year…

Comments are closed.