Vettel steals pole from Hamilton at wet Spa

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel will start the Belgian GP from from pole position

Aug.27 (Reuters with additional input from PVM) Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel charged to pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday after denying McLaren‘s Lewis Hamilton the top slot in the final seconds of qualifying.

Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, third; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, pole position; Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, second. Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday 27 August 2011.

Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Mark Webber (third) Sebastian Vettel (pole position) and Lewis Hamilton (second)

In a wet and eventful session, the 24-year-old German secured Red Bull‘s 13th pole in a row and his ninth of the season.

Vettel’s Australian team mate Mark Webber, celebrating his 35th birthday with a new one-year contract, will line up third and alongside Ferrari‘s Felipe Massa.

Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, who made his debut at the circuit 20 years ago, had a nightmare afternoon and failed to set a time in the first phase after skidding his Mercedes into the wall.

Hamilton, winner at Spa last year, found himself in the middle of another controversy after clashing with Williams‘ Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado in the second phase of qualifying.

The Briton forced his way past Maldonado as the seconds ran out and then, after completing the final lap, appeared to be cut up by the Venezuelan with the McLaren damaged by the contact.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton will start from second on the grid

“It was done deliberately,” Hamilton said over the team radio of the rookie’s actions. McLaren fitted a new front wing and patched up the car for the final phase.

There was no immediate comment from race stewards but Hamilton said he was expecting the call, with both drivers facing possible sanctions.

The two men had also clashed at Monaco earlier in the year, with Hamilton tipping Maldonado into the tyre barriers when the Venezuelan was heading for his first points finish.

Hamilton’s team mate Jenson Button, winner in Hungary before the summer break, was left in 13th place on the grid after a ‘misunderstanding’.

The 2009 champion was told to pit, an order he questioned by saying “Are you sure? Are you sure?”, during the second session and then had to watch as his time proved too slow to make the cut.

The damaged car of Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday 27 August 2011.

Michael Schumacher's damaged Mercedes GP returned to the pits

“That is massively disappointing and a huge shock,” he said. “A big mistake on our part. In every practice session we’ve been in top three. Tough being back in 13th but we’ve got to deal with it.”

Schumacher’s hopes of a first podium since his comeback last season suffered a major setback with the 42-year-old facing a back-row start.

A rear tyre worked itself off his Mercedes GP, whereupon the German slammed into the barrier before he could set a timed lap, his session ending at the top of the hill at Les Combes.

“I don’t know what happened,” he said over the team radio after the car came to a halt. “It’s something unexpected.”

Schumacher said afterwards, “I have had some experience on three wheels before but to to lose a rear wheel is a bit more difficult to handle. Initially, I didn’t know I’d lost a rear wheel. There is no reason to blame anybody, we all try our best but at the end of the day we are all humans.”

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 150 Italia.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday 27 August 2011.

Felipe Massa outqualified team mate Fernando Alonso

“I’ve had some interesting races from the back so it’s going to be entertaining,” added the veteran.

Brazilian Bruno Senna made an impressive start to his first race weekend with Renault, qualifying seventh and ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in eighth place.

The Spaniard looked strong all weekend, but was caught out in traffic after a red flag period came into effect to clear debris from Adrian Sutil’s crash exiting Eau Rouge.

Senna’s Russian team mate Vitaly Petrov qualified 10th.

Force India’s British rookie Paul di Resta was another casualty of the first session after spinning on his flying lap.

Both the HRTs and Virgin Racing’s Belgian Jerome d’Ambrosio were at the mercy of the stewards after failing to meet the 107 percent qualifying threshold, along with Schumacher.

The second phase of qualifying was halted briefly after Force India’s Adrian Sutil spun and skidded into the tyre wall at the top of Eau Rouge.

Saturday, 27 August – Qualifying

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 2:03.029 2:03.317 1:48.298 22
2 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 2:03.008 2:02.823 1:48.730 21
3 2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 2:02.827 2:03.302 1:49.376 23
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 2:05.834 2:04.507 1:50.256 21
5 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2:05.091 2:03.723 1:50.552 23
6 19 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 2:05.419 2:04.561 1:50.773 24
7 9 Bruno Senna Renault 2:05.047 2:04.452 1:51.121 24
8 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2:04.450 2:02.768 1:51.251 22
9 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 2:06.284 2:04.625 1:51.374 24
10 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 2:05.292 2:03.466 1:52.303 23
11 18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 2:04.744 2:04.692 18
12 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 2:07.194 2:04.757 18
13 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2:01.813 2:05.150 15
14 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 2:05.720 2:07.349 17
15 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 2:06.000 2:07.777 12
16 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 2:05.621 2:08.106 17
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 2:06.780 2:08.354 15
18 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 2:07.758 8
19 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 2:08.773 8
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 2:09.566 9
DNQ 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 2:11.601 9
DNQ 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 2:11.616 9
DNQ 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 2:13.077 9
DNQ 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes No time 1
Q1 107% Time 2:10.339
  • aknit

    This article is incorrect about Schumacher. He didn’t crash because he skidded, he crashed because the rear wheel came off, which caused him to spin and crash. Get the facts right, please.

  • Editor

    @aknit you 100% correct the paragraph on Schumacher’s crash was wrong – correct now.

  • Eddystone

    He did, indeed, skid. We’ll cut him some slack since he apparently only had three wheels in contact with the road when the skid occurred. Did someone correct the article, or did you guys not read far enough to see the paragraph concerning the loss of the wheel?