Rosberg masters tricky conditions for pole at Spa

2014 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying

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Nico Rosberg extended his run of pole positions to his fourth in a row in a tricky wet qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Team mate Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second place after grappling with braking problems in Q3. Sebastian Vettel was best of the rest in third – but was over two seconds slower than the flying Mercedes.


A downpour 40 minutes before the start of qualifying meant the first competitive session of the weekend was held in the wettest conditions experienced so far.

The rain had stopped by the time the drivers joined the track, and with conditions uncertain most opted for intermediates while others opted for full wets. Valtteri Bottas was among those who took the full wets, and briefly headed the times while the track was at its wettest, before Daniel Ricciardo took the top time off him.

Once the Mercedes pair began lapping, however, the normal pecking order was resumed. At times they had as much as three seconds in hand over their rivals.

The contest to escape the drop zone was partly decided when Esteban Gutierrez came to a stop in Stavelot. He was already quick enough to out-qualify both of the Caterhams, and a late improvement by his team mate meant at least one of the two Saubers made it into Q2.

Sutil’s improvement pushed Pastor Maldonado down into the drop zone, the Lotus driver having spun at the chicane. His final effort left him six-thousandths of a second faster than Nico Hulkenberg, who was eliminated in Q1 for the first time this year in his Force India.

That meant Jules Bianchi took his Marussia into Q2 once again. Team mate Max Chilton had lost charge in his battery at the end of the session.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault2’11.261
18Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes2’11.267
19Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari2’12.566
20Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari2’13.414
21Andre LottererCaterham-Renault2’13.469
22Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault2’14.438


Fresh rain fell as the second part of qualifying began but the order at the top remained unchanged – the two Mercedes drivers continued to show everyone else the way, Hamilton over 1.8 seconds faster than the next non-Mercedes, which was Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

Having made it into Q2 Bianchi progressed no further, ending up 16th behind Romain Grosjean, who spun at the La Source hairpin.

Kevin Magnussen’s final lap jumped him into the top ten at the expense of his team mate. However Button found enough time with his final run to join his team mate in Q3.

That left Sebastian Vettel in the drop zone and also needing to make big gains with his last run. He made it – moving up to seventh – and was the last driver to escape the drop zone.

Into his place fell Daniil Kvyat, who spun in the Les Combes complex after taking his hand off the steering wheel.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault2’09.377
12Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault2’09.805
13Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes2’10.084
14Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari2’10.238
15Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault2’11.087
16Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari2’12.470


Hamilton’s bid to claim his first pole position since the Spanish Grand Prix went awry when he found his car was pulling to one side while braking in Q3. Heading into La Source at the beginning of his first lap he ran wide, losing time.

While Rosberg put up a benchmark pole position time which was two-and-a-half seconds faster than Vettel could manage with his first run, Hamilton only just managed to get within seven-tenths of a second of his team mate with his second lap.

It also meant he would only have time for one run on his final set of tyres, while Rosberg would have two. It turned out he only needed one, as Hamilton’s brake problems persisted on his second run, and he ran wide again at La Source and Stavelot. It left him shy of Rosberg’s time again, and Rosberg then posted a further improvement to put his pole position far beyond doubt.

Vettel stayed third while team mate Daniel Ricciardo took fifth despite going off at Blanchimont. Alonso also had an off-track moment but separated the Red Bulls for fourth.

Top ten in Q3

1Nico RosbergMercedes2’05.591
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes2’05.819
3Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault2’07.717
4Fernando AlonsoFerrari2’07.786
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault2’07.911
6Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes2’08.049
7Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes2’08.679
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrari2’08.780
9Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes2’09.178
10Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes2’09.776

2014 Belgian Grand Prix

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Image © Daimler/Hoch Zwei

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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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52 comments on “Rosberg masters tricky conditions for pole at Spa”

  1. Go Rosberg! When it mattered most he performed this qualifying session.

  2. For a wet qualifying session, this was surprisingly dull. Meanwhile, yet another Q3 fail from Hamilton.

    1. I don’t know what sort of world is a 2nd place a “fail”

      1. +1 Noting even with the mistakes how close it was.

        1. Even with the mistakes he only lost it in the last corner because he had oversteer, otherwise they were pretty close coming into the last corner

          1. If, if, if… otherwise, but… He came behind, end of the story. Sorry mate

      2. A world in which you drive a car that is 2 secs faster than that of the closest rival team. In such world, it is you against your team mate and you came out second – failure it is.

        1. especially when you aspire to be the next ayrton senna and fail again nico rosberg

      3. With a car 2 seconds faster that is a fail

    2. I agree. At that level, 1/10 of a second is like a full second for the others. As I very humbly said months ago, Nico is more mature and gets the best of the opportunities most of times, a little more than Lewis, which makes him a more complete driver. Just my opinion and I put my money on Nico for the Championship

  3. Anyone else saw the comparision of Nico and Lewis laps? fantastic how close they were! Hamilton was actually fastest, but tiny mistakes put him down.

    We’re in to some serious racing tomorrow I think! truly excited !

    1. I’m glad someone else saw that. Far too many people hung up on Lewis’ mistakes as if qualifying second is finishing last. Nico finds a way to get the job done, Lewis makes mistakes and yet we’re still on for a cracking race tomorrow.

      1. Gideon Hadi (@)
        23rd August 2014, 15:44

        Qualifying stil counts dont forget Pole Trophy

      2. @KxxxxTxxxxxxx Qualifying second in that Mercedes is pretty much the equivelent of being last.

      3. Far too many people hung up on Lewis’ mistakes as if qualifying second is finishing last.

        Funny, I seem to remember Button getting no end of stick for qualifying second to Hamilton.

        1. Because all knew that Button has never been to Lewis what Lewis is for Nico. You’re not comparing apple to apple

          1. Nico is out qualifying the so called fastest driver quite often don’t you think

    2. Sadly in reality mistakes count in qualifying, fact is he made up the time lost in La Source and Stavelot and was completely out driven through the last chicane, Nico destroys him through chicanes, he also did it in Canada.

      1. I think Nico may also be better at finding the best lines, as evidenced by your comment (it’s completely true that Nico’s much better at chicanes, should come useful at abu double)

    3. Hamilton was actually fastest, but tiny mistakes put him down.

      Sooooo…he wasn’t fastest then.

    4. I’m expecting Bottas and Massa to put a good show when recovering from their poor starting position

  4. Let’s hope Hamilton handles pressure better tomorrow…

  5. Hamilton appears quicker through the faster corners and makes up time in braking, Rosberg destroys him in the slower corners especially through chicanes. I expect Rosberg to comfortably out pace him in Singapore.

    1. Ham was shocking in the slow today though did you see the exits from turn 1? And the breaking just after sector 1 Ham had no confidence. Yet again it looks like im being a fanboy i know, i just think it was very close today Ham defo made mistakes which Ros did not so kudos to him. I think as long as both cars make it through lap 1 and are reliable Ham should be ok.

      1. Calm down, he had a brake problem.

        1. no he didn’t, he caused the brake issue, not brake problem.

        2. It’s starting to look like a left foot problem.

  6. So despite a mistake in turn one and running wide in stavelot, Lewis only lost the time in the final chicane, crazy. Anyway glad that qualy went well and no q1 exits, its the first time Lewis starts on the front row since Canada. Will Nico still lead by the time they get to les coumbs?

  7. Good job by Vettel and Bianchi :)

    1. @paeschli
      And Alonso. Kvyat did a good job to beat Vergne by half a second too, unlucky not to make top 10.

  8. The constant repeat of Hamilton’s ‘braking issues’ is a bit much. He didn’t have any mechanical problems outside of anything he helped create himself. He simply wasn’t as good today as ‘slow-poke Nico’. Time to give Rosberg some serious credit I think. Hamilton was not ‘actually faster’, rather he was ‘actually slower’… unless you want to claim Rosberg was actually faster in Barcelona Q (he wasn’t).

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more mate! It seems that many people can’t accept that Nico has beaten Lewis in qualifying so far. Fair and square! And I’m not buying those supposed “brake problems”. The correct phrasing would be: “couldn’t get his brakes up to temperature”. Something that happens to many drivers. So if anything it was Lewis’s fault. Once again in Q3 he simply couldn’t deliver. It’s not the first time it happened this year. Austria, Montreal and Silverstone Qualifying sessions-alongside with today’s- were the proof that Nico has clearly a psychological edge over Lewis. And he has clearly outdriven him so far. Something that not many fans or pundits expected before the start of the season…

      1. Gideon Hadi (@)
        24th August 2014, 1:03

        Agree. Many people overlooked Hamilton and I don’t think he’s better than Rosberg

  9. Im just glad we get a battle for the lead between them tommorow i cant wait.

  10. Andre Lotterer out qualified his team mate by 1 sec. Thats really good to see.

    1. @manohar
      I’m not sure what was happening there, he was about 5 seconds down until a few minutes to go then suddenly got a lap in

      1. yea i was surprised too, that lap came out of no where.

    2. quite embarrassing I would say:)

  11. The mercs are more than 2 seconds ahead than their nearest rivals, that too in wet conditions! this would may have certainly increased if it were a dry qualyfing….impressive… much for removing FRIC to slow them down…:)

    1. Actually, it would’ve been much closer if it had been dry. Merc have just seem to lose a lot less compared to their rivals in wet conditions.

    2. Are you listening FIA?

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        23rd August 2014, 17:50

        I like how the FIA introduced new engine and aero regulations to stop Red Bull from being dominant, and it resulted in another team being more dominant than Red Bull ever were.

        1. At least the new dominant team has two fairly equal drivers.

          1. Yes they are both not very good . Vettel or Alonso would be getting ready to be crowned champ if they were driving they cars

  12. Lewis was better at Eu Rouge according to Sky, but Nico thought that’s where he made the difference. It’s the stretch that separates the men from the boys. We will know who is who on lap 1.

  13. Whole year he’s talking on and on how he is the hungriest driver out there. And now when he gets glazed brakes, he complains again. Pull it together, Lew!

    1. He learn that from No grip Button, maybe is time to call him no break Ham

  14. Great driving by Lotterer. He hasn’t even sat in the car before yesterday, and managed to out-qualify his teammate who has been the car all season. At Spa. In the wet.

  15. Well done Rosberg. Beat Ham fair and square there. Lewis tries too hard.

    1. Absolutley he beat lewis on another so called lewis track in the wet! Nuff said.

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