Vettel on pole again after action-packed session

2011 Belgian GP qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2011

A hectic qualifying session at Spa rain, crashes and two drivers coming to blows on the track.

But it didn’t stop Red Bull continuing their domination of qualifying, claiming their 12th pole position this year.

Sebastian Vettel heads Lewis Hamilton on the grid, despite Hamilton being hit by Pastor Maldonado during the session.


Qualifying began on a wet track and with more rain expected drivers were queueing up at the pit lane exit to get a lap in.

As the drivers went around on their first laps Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes suddenly speared off the track at the exit of Malmedy. A right-rear wheel had come off, sending him into the barriers and skidding onto the run-off at Rivage.

His car was recovered under yellow flags while drivers did their tentative first laps. Lewis Hamilton led the times initially before heading to the pits.

The Red Bull drivers took over at the top of the times, but Hamilton went fastest again when he returned to the track.

But it was Jenson Button who set the fastest time in Q1, lowering the best to 2’01.813.

Heikki Kovalainen capitalised on a mistake by Force India to claim a place in Q2 for Lotus. Paul di Resta spun at the chicane at the end of a lap, then was called into the pits by his team who felt his time was good enough to get him into Q2.

But Kovalainen beat di Resta’s time by a second despite running wide at Rivage as fresh rain fell.

Jerome d’Ambrosio and the two HRT drivers were both outside the 107% time, but are likely to receive dispensations due to the conditions.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes2’7.758
19Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault2’8.773
20Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth2’9.566
21Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth2’11.601
22Vitantonio LiuzziHRT-Cosworth2’11.616
23Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth2’13.077
24Michael SchumacherMercedes


It got worse for Force India in Q2 as their sole remaining car crashed, causing a red flag.

Adrian Sutil had just gone fifth fastest when he lost the car at the top of Raidillon, clipping the barrier on the inside of the corner. That brought out the red flags with less than seven minutes remaining.

All 16 cars headed out as soon as Q2 resumed. In the middle of the pack was Fernando Alonso, 11th and needing to improve to reach the final ten. “It’s impossible” he told his team, unhappy at being stuck in traffic. But his first lap moved him up to second place.

Meanwhile it was all going wrong for McLaren. Hamilton fell to 11th place as the first set of drivers improved and he had to pick his way through traffic at the end of the lap. He squeezed past Pastor Maldonado at the final corner and set the fastest lap to secure his place in Q3.

But Maldonado took except to Hamilton’s driving and weaved into the side of the McLaren after they’d crossed the finishing line.

There was worse news for Jenson Button, however, who was called into the pits too early and wasn’t able to improve his time, leaving him 13th.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari2’4.692
12Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari2’4.757
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes2’5.150
14Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth2’7.349
15Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes2’7.777
16Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth2’8.106
17Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault2’8.354


With no more rain falling, Q3 came down to who could find the most time using the slicks tyres on a drying track.

Webber led the way initially, setting and then lowering the fastest time. But he failed to improve with his last effort after catching Sergio Perez’s Sauber.

Behind him Hamilton, in his repaired McLaren, claimed the fastest time. But Vettel was just a few seconds behind and set a 1’48.298 to capture his ninth pole position of the season.

Felipe Massa out-qualified Fernando Alonso for the second race in a row, claiming fourth place. Nico Rosberg took fifth ahead of Jaime Alguersuari.

Bruno Senna was seventh on his debut in front of Alonso, Perez and Petrov.

Top ten in Q3

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’48.298
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’48.730
3Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’49.376
4Felipe MassaFerrari1’50.256
5Nico RosbergMercedes1’50.552
6Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’50.773
7Bruno SennaRenault1’51.121
8Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’51.251
9Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’51.374
10Vitaly PetrovRenault1’52.303

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    110 comments on “Vettel on pole again after action-packed session”

    1. I might be a Lewis Hamilton fan, and il try to keep bias to 1 side, but I don’t believe that Lewis did anything wrong at Bus stop, Maldonado appeared to either go wide in his turning and did’nt see Lewis in his mirrors. Even if Lewis is at fault, you dont take matters into your own hands with an act of revenge which i believe this was. No defence in my eyes.

      1. I dont like lewis a bit, but that was def maldonado’s fault.

      2. ops i meant ..
        “Maldonado appeared to either go wide in his turning and did’nt see Lewis in his mirrors or left Lewis too much space to make that last-gasp pass.”

    2. DQ for Mr. Maldonaldo?

      1. Hamilton also did move to left

        1. sorry right

        2. Cause that’s the racing line…

          1. No, he swerved.

            1. no, he had a twitch due to the wet track off the racing line.

            2. no the track goes to the right, he is not gonna go off track to avoid a looney.

        3. Yeah but wasn’t he just sticking to the racing line, the track bends off to the left before Eau Rouge.

        4. Yes because the barrier comes out from the left, if he went straight he would have been in the barrier.

        5. Hamilton threw the first punch by swerving to the right alongside Maldonado who then retaliated by swerving to the left.

          1. No, I disagree, Hamilton looked to swerve towards Maldonando not knowing that he was there. So then quickly corrected his car back to the left to not hit Maldonado. If it was a deliberate swerve to hit Maldonado then why would he have backed out of it so quickly?

            1. Because he never intended to hit Maldonado and possibly damage his own car!

      2. Hope he gets *at least* that. They should revoke his superlicense. There’s no place in F1 for drivers like that, especially when there are drivers with far more talent sidelined.

        1. I agree.


          I understand you want to drive a Mclaren but the paint you just stole doesn’t count.

          1. hehe, that’s brilliant, yup, that’s literally the closest he’ll ever get to a McLaren.

        2. Laranja Mecanica
          27th August 2011, 14:51

          I wholly agree, Mr. Hamilton’s superlicense must be revoked at once, there are dozens of more tqlented drivers. Every one of them in fact

        3. Don’t you think that’s a bit harsh? The last driver to get his license revoked was Juji Ide, who was definetely worse than Maldonado and a hazard to other drivers. And judging other driver’s talent is not your job, sorry.

          1. It doesn’t matter how good a driver he is, if it was the other way round people would still be saying the same thing. It’s not about talent, on track retaliation is unacceptable and dangerous.

      3. DQ for Mr. Maldonaldo?

        You can’t disqualify a driver from a race for an incident in qualifying. The FIA can, however, suspend his racing licence, preventing him from getting in the car tomorrow.

        1. Was just thinking the same. and I hope they do.

          1. 1) Is he guilty? Look at telemetry of both drivers

            a) If just stupid. Send him to the back of the grid and yell at him.

            b) If no, leave him

            c) If yes DSQ him from the event and tell the FIA to ban him for the rest of the season.

            If was driving in Karting at the age of 12 and deliberately drove into someone beacuse I was anoyed then I wouldn’t be allowed to start the race, if someone odes it at 25 in Formula 1 they should not be allowed to finish teh season.

            It’s rediculous if he did it deliberately. You can’t have glam, Monaco, best tech in the world and guys ramming or threatening when they get anoyed. It destroys a sport. It destroys a premium sport like F1.

        2. Nonsense, of course they can penalize a driver at any time during the “event”. That includes a DSQ.

    3. Very good job for Senna.

      1. Indeed, will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. Its a nice case of seeing what someone who has been at the back of the grid can do in a car thats a better performance to gauge how good he is as a driver.

      2. I was really impressed.

        Still the pressures on Petrov now.

      3. If you compare what with Chandhok could achieve against his more experienced teammate in Germany it’s even more impressive.

        1. What do you mean?

          1. he means that if you use kovalainen-chandok performance as reference of established-new driver, you can say that Bruno’s performance is just impressive

      4. Yes. And Massa ahead of alonso for the 2nd (consecutive) time.

        1. Yay for Massa and a big YAY Yes Well done For Senna.

          Disappointed for Webber. Would prefer Vettel to never be on pole again.

          Red Bull now has the 3rd longest run of poles.. and people put it down to the driver.. nup just the best car

          1. In the last two races (especially Hungary) Red Bull have not been expected to have much of an advantage. The driver Vettel has indeed pulled it out of the bag again.

    4. I’ll be interested to see what they do with Maldonado. It seems to be a similar incident to the Mucke-Westbrook situation at Silvertone in the FIA GT. Didn’t they withdraw Mucke’s race licence for that spat?

      1. They did indeed if i recall. The only difference was, that was in race conditions and lead to cars crashing off the track.

        1. I suppose the fact that Hamilton’s car was able to continue will mean that it’s a less severe penalty. That would be a travesty becuase it’s the intention of the act, not the result that should be severely punished.

    5. Petulant and cowardly from Maldonado. Should be a 3 race ban for swiping at another driver. Or fit his car with handbags.

      1. A three-race ban is unlikely. He’ll probably get chewed out by the stewards and bumped to the back of the grid. It’ll be pale in comparison to the roasting he’s going to get from Frank Williams, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sir Frank replaced him for Monza as punishment.

        1. I think your right PM, Frank might give him a more stern punishment then the FIA. But I hope thats not the case, the FIA/Stewards can use this to send out a proper message with intent. I think it will be either lining him up behind Schumacher tomorrow or telling him to go home for the weekend and see you in Monza.

        2. Agree PM. Frank is not going to be pleased at all. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at Williams right now

          1. Really? I wouldn’t want to be in the same time zone, myself.

            1. The trouble is Williams are reliant on Pastor’s sponsorship. The only way he will miss races is if the FIA get involved. If they don’t, it will send out a really bad message to every other petulant rich kid wannabe, that they can do anything they want.

        3. I agree on that, even if by now we know, that the FIA stewards were pretty lenient with penalties, giving Pastor only a 5 place grid penalty (and Hamilton another reprimand)

      2. I thought exactly that, 3 races seem to fit the crime, any less and they lose credibility.

      3. Still, a good qualifying session by Hamilton and Massa (and the Red Bulls obviously). What happened to Alonso?

      4. If anything, it was cowardly. Lewis gave him the finger, so he through a punch.

        A coward would have let Lewis walk all over him.

        1. If anything, it was not* cowardly

          1. What a stupid comment.

            This is not a brawl at your local pub, its a top-flight, ultra-professional, non-contact sport, where people do get seriously injured/killed because of contact.

    6. Good Quali session, epic performance by Vettel once again, half a second.

      Great to see Senna up there, it was really tense watching his fast laps in today’s conditions. It’s probably a good thing he binned it on friday, took that pressure off of him. I hope he does well in the race, he seems like a cool guy.

      1. Agree, he missed where he could miss… he is better prepared now…
        Really cool to see the final times on Q3 today, and how about Schumi ? Historical weekend on the run… Michael 20’s and Senna on black lotus… i hope they surprise tomorrow! very very very cool!

    7. What a session Q3 had my heart pumping like crazy! I thought Mark would seal it but Seb pulled it out & stuck it on pole once again. Brilliant lap from Alguersuari, I wasn’t expecting that & i’m so happy that STR’s updates are working. Also a mention to Bruno Senna outqualifying Petrov on his first race for Renault.

      1. What a way to bring F1 back from the break!

        I <3 Spa.

    8. It was raining and pouring but for once JB was caught snoring. It really was a bad day for him. Alonso was absolutely nowhere too. Senna was brilliant and not just today but all weekend (when he wasn’t in the barrier) he’s looked pretty nifty.

      I have no idea what to make of the Mal vs Ham incident. I’ve watched it a few times now but the camera isn’t that clear. I don’t know if Mal hits Ham first although it seems like he may well have done but Ham’s front end definitely twitched in Maldonando’s direction but given the conditions he may not have been aware of where Pastor was much like when JB hit Ham in Canada. The naive part of me hopes it was just a misunderstanding and an unfortunate coincidence that it involved these two after the previous tussle a few minutes earlier. However, if Pastor did swipe at Lewis deliberately then one DSQ isn’t enough in my opinion. If Lewis was found to be exaggerating he should maybe be told to calm down a bit by the stewards but it is understandable he may jump to that conclusion in the heat of the moment. Whatever happened and is going to happen I’m glad I’m not a steward.

      1. Sorry for double post but Icthyes just sent me a link to the incident ( and thanks very much btw) and it seems like Pastor did hit Lewis from behind so I can’t really blame Hamilton’s twitch. Daft driving from Pastor to say the least.

      2. Nothing to do with Button, unless you think he’s actually supposed to ignore McLaren strategy calls as a default action now (might not be the worst plan ever).

        1. Well, it is to do with JB because he agree to go with the call but I should have been more clear when I referred to JB I didn’t just mean him I meant his side of the garage too.

          1. He asked 2x if that was really the right thing to do, so not really putting much blame on Button for that.

      3. I cant help but wonder if Alonso is trying to go for an all out dry setup, as opposed to a dry-with-a-bit-of-wet setup like the rest.

    9. Ohh… I was playing tennis and they were showing the qualy on the telly in the cafe, next to the courts.

      Mark was first and I was so happy, hopeful that he’d get Pole.

      Trip back home and bang… Vettel on pole again! :(

    10. Disgraceful from maldonado there, he deserves a 5 place grid drop at the very least.
      Brilliant effort by Senna, good pace in wet and dry and they were saying on bbc that his long run pace was impressive in hungary practice so looks in good shape for the race.
      Should be a great race tomorrow, i think top 3 will stay the same, no idea what the order will be, hoping for a hamilton win

    11. Well. Bruno was not that bad after all

    12. Sign of things to come – ridiculous end of coverage on BBC. 1 min discussion of Hamilton-Maldonado incident, interview with Button, farewell. No interviews, was there a picture of pole-sitter coming to garage?

      1. Red Button

        1. Don’t know about Red Button, but BBC F1 website (not BBC1 stream) was showing rugby after Buttons interview.

          1. Also, here is Jake Humphrey’s explanation on twitter:
            Sorry we flew off the air. Red flag delayed the end of quail, and the rugby with @clarebalding1 was waiting in the wings. Latest online!

            1. often happens with a red flag delayed quali, nothing new tbh.

    13. Massa and Senna great performances. :-)

    14. As I said in the Live blog –

      HAM and MAL into final chicane – racing incident, MAL was impeded by BAR, so HAM took the opportunity to reduce potential time loss behind MAL, got his nose infront and they touched, to no great detriment of MAL as he failed to out-qualify a Force India that had been stationary for 10 minutes, parked up on the grass.

      Coming out of La Source Hairpin, no need to be pushing as the chequered flag had fallen. MAL pulls alongside a cruising HAM who is about to move Right into centre of track. HAM changes course to avoid collision with MAL. MAL then comes fully alongside/past HAM with approx 1 car width between. HAM moves away from edge of track, MAL pulls across and they collide.

      1. Toothpickbandit
        27th August 2011, 14:41


        1. Blame shall be apportioned if appropriate upon seeing the on-boards.

          Even Schumi-Villenueve wasn’t clear-cut until we saw Michael’s steering…

          1. Track bends right. Hamilton was following about a car length or so along the track, slowly going right so he didn’t go off. Maldo continued onwards.

            Also, Maldo accelerated to get next to Hamilton. If Maldo wasn’t in a rush he would have stayed behind, if he was then he would continue on faster. Why would he move to go parallel with Hamilton and then slow down?

    15. Even if Hamilton manages to clinch a win tomorrow there really isn’t anyone else able to challenge Vettel bar Webber, which means that unless something goes terribly wrong I don’t see Vettel losing points in the championship. But this being Spa Alonso and Button might take the fight to the front somehow.

      Senna did a fantastic job, but Alguersuari is the hero of the day. What a performance! That can’t be said of Maldonado – what an utter disgrace.

    16. Was JB actually called into the pits too early? He was behind Lewis and Lewis didn’t make it across the line before the flag dropped. The problem came because Jenson hadn’t known it was his last lap and was cooling his tyres.
      On a seperate note, if Maldonado deliberately cut into Hamilton, I’d support a black flag.
      Can’t wait for the race! :-)

      1. BBC reported a radio call, so yes, he was – and Button was originally ahead of Hamilton on track before he aborted his run.

      2. yeah, he got a call about slowing down and getting in.

        A “misunderstandment” indeed. Costly for him, although at Spa he might be in with a chance. Didn’t he start about the same place in 2009 though when he and Lewis got taken out in that crash with Grosjean?

    17. Maldonado is mad. Nuff said.

    18. Brilliant pole by Vettel, when the chips are down and he has time he always pulls it out the bag. I think he almost certainly got a tow on Lewis as well so well done to him. Well deserved.
      Lewis as usual drove the wheels off his McLaren and almost made it, but the incident with Maldonado must almost certainly disqualify Maldonado. His move on Lewis was malicious, petty, extremely dangerous driving, and he deserves to be punished very severely. Let’s see if the steward agree with me . . .
      There is no place in racing for that kind of behavior.
      He is an idiot!

    19. 6 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’50.773

      WOW! Well done there! That’ll motivate Buemi xD!

      1. Buemi was quick, but Q2 was so close.

      2. Yes, really shows there is a lot into this kid! He did shine a bit earlier when it was damp I think.

    20. I feel sorry for Barrichello I really think those updates could have given him a shot at Q3 but his laps were ruined by traffic especially the last 1 due to Kovalainen

    21. Even there was contact, not sure if the hamilton/maldonado incident was as dangerous as barichello/schumacher in hungary last year.

      1. There is a fundamental difference between defending a position and deliberately running into someone. Of course, the incident in Hungary 2010 seemed scary due to the sheer speed. Pastor M took the matters personal and he is mad.

    22. I’m not a Vettel fan to say the least, but you’ve got to hand it to him. Quali King

      1. He’s faster than Webber at least.

    23. Guys, have you seen the incident or do you blame Maldonado just because Hamilton is British?
      Please, use your brain and look at that.

      1. What Maldonado did was stupid, but in the end he didn’t change direction and Hamilton could brake as well as drive into Maldonado, he is as much to blame.

      2. What’s your take on it?

        I see Hamilton going to take a central line (the same line the drivers ahead of them are using), just as Maldonado moves from behind Hamilton to along side. Hamilton then changes his line to move closer to the barrier and avoid any contact.

        Maldonado then seems to pick a line from the centre that will take him back over to the left, meaning when Hamilton continues round the turn (to the right) he isn’t given any room.

        I’m not sure Maldonado intentionally went to “cut him off”, but given he moved quite close up along side him, he should not have been moving back over to the left in a right-hand turn.

      3. Why do so many sh|tty videos say “HQ”?

        Anyway I want to see an onboard, but do still think Maldonado swiped Hamilton from that video.

    24. Let’s not jump to the conclusion that Maldonado OR Hamilton did anything deliberately. Let’s wait until all the evidence is in and the stewards have made a decision before we make a calm assessment. There’s nothing worse than hot-heads jumping to massive conclusions and baying for blood.

    25. Oh look, Vettel’s domination in F1 is over :)

      1. 1 sec faster than his teammate and 4 tenths on 2nd? It sure is mate :)

        1. In a couple of laps finger boy will be looking at Lewis ass.

          1. Well, the one thing that isn’t just speculation is that Hamilton will be at least 60 points behind Vettel by the end of tomorrow’s race. That’s a result of “looking at Sebastian’s ass” for most of the season, if you will.

      2. he really seems to be like senna in qualis. incredible.
        and in races I think he is getting better and better…

    26. Well…we all know the matter the most is tommorow result !! Pole doesnt mean anything….We all know mclaren and Ferraris are the faster car than Redbulls on raceday .

      1. + Mercedes also has a faster car in straights. Nico has a good chance to finish in top 5

    27. Heres hoping Mclarens new super drs wing can count for something tomorrow :)

    28. What happen to Alonso the greatest driver on the GRID? 8th and outqualified by Massa, terrible.

    29. Two very deliberate looking twitches towards Maldonado from Hamilton and yet it’s entirely the William’s driver’s fault? Hamilton has a history of brazen, often reckless driving. Punish both or neither.

    30. So, Schumacher’s wheel fell off and caused a wreck. If it’s a pit error, not a mechanical failure, will the team be penalized? Stewards have been consistently draconian on this issue.

    31. I don’t know how Heidfeld’d’ve performed, but Senna was great! I had doubts on him before today, but he looked easily ahead of Petrov for all the session.
      Alonso was a let down, Massa in 4th was a nice surprise as Ferrari had clearly the third fastest car. Nice battle between Vettel and Hamilton, not nice battle between Hamilton and Maldonado.
      Perez and Senna did well.
      Liuzzi beat once again Ricciardo, but in my opinion them and D’Ambrosio shouldn’t be allowed to race. After all, the track was dryer when they set their lap times, and they were outside the 107% margin on pure pace.
      Pity for Schumacher, he could’ve done well.

      1. nice “new” helmet Fixy! Fully agree with you about Senna, completely took me by supprise. Seems the Renault was doing better here, but I doubt Nick would have beaten Petrov here. And Massa did really well again to outqualify Alonso and show the cars pace.

        But I do think the HRT cars and D’Ambrosio should be allowed to race (and Schu). They kept it on the track, and the 107% are meant to keep disgracefully bad cars/drivers out, not minimize the field when they were being extra carefull in the wet.

    32. Vettel again showing he is the heir-apperent of Ayrton Senna, the master qualifying specialist bringing out his best at the last moment. it looked like webber and hamilton (and button until the tactical error in q2) would beat vettel, but vettel stepped up at the end to show them all how it is done. no doubt these consistent poles and a coming second championship is what is causing hamilton to keep making errors, he cant take that another driver is emulating Senna when he thinks he is entitled to that honour.

      1. :) Maybe. I believe both hamilton and alonso are a bit nervous about this vettel dominance. They should do what Schumi did in his days to beat Newey: work harder.

        1. Rather than simply work harder, maybe you mean: get Rory Byrne.

          As for an ‘heir-apparent of Ayrton Senna’, it could be argued that other qualities and attributes don’t suit this title.

    33. Congratulations to Senna, for who did not run is a great result. Who knows a grateful surprise!

    34. A great.Spa not only have great race but good qualifying as well.Feel bad for Schumacher & Button,I see nothing wrong with Hamilton in the flying lap.Good job by Senna.

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