Formula 1 – Vettel Snares Pole In Dramatic Spa Qualifying

August 28, 2011

Formula 1

In a final flurry of swinging fortunes, and in wet conditions, Red Bull Racing‘s Sebastien Vettel took pole away from Lewis Hamilton for yet another pole position of a dominant 2011 season for the German.

His teammate Mark Webber will start 3rd on the grid, with Massa surprisingly putting his Ferrari in 4th.

Bruno Senna evoked memories of his famous uncle Ayrton, handling the wet conditions with supreme confidence, surprising everyone by qualifying in 7th.

Some notable absentees from Q3 were Michael Schumacher who had a wheel come off in Q1, and Jenson Button who will start in 13th after a misunderstanding with the team in Q2.

Red Bull Racing

Sebastian Vettel

“It was difficult in Q1 and Q2, although at the end of Q3 the circuit was drying very quickly. I didn’t feel comfortable at the beginning of qualifying, but for Q2 I think we made a big step forward and I rediscovered Spa in a way! In the last session, I used the first two laps of Q3 to get temperature into the tyres and then for the last two I tried to push as hard as I could. I think tomorrow it will be one of those races where anything can happen. I think the best way to get a forecast here is to look up into the sky and see what’s happening. It’s likely to be dry tomorrow and the balance felt good at the end of Q3 when it was dry. It’s a long race tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Mark Webber

“It was a close session today; I think I went a bit too hard on the slicks initially in Q3. I felt comfortable, and you never know if the lap you’re on is the one before the weather changes. There were sprinklings of rain here and there and as soon as we finished Q3 it began to rain again, so I probably could have built up a bit slower and had a better run into the third and fourth lap. But, that’s how it goes and we have had a smooth weekend. It’s very easy in these conditions to end up out of position and we’re in position, it would have been nicer to have been a slightly higher up, but the guys in front did a good job and we’re in the hunt tomorrow.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Jenson Button

“Failing to get into Q3 was a misunderstanding between the team and me. I’d just done a fast lap, and was cooling the tyres, not knowing that there wasn’t any more time left in the session. If I’d known, obviously I wouldn’t have slowed down on my final lap. Obviously, with the track getting drier with every lap, it was vital to be going quickly until the end of the session. I think I was second- or third-quickest when I did my lap; it’s just a pity I that didn’t get a chance to put in another lap. It’s very disappointing. Obviously, in Q1, I was a second quicker than everyone. Our car is clearly one of the quickest around here, and it’s going to be tough starting back in 13th. But I’ve just got to deal with it now. I think I’ll just have a cup of tea and move on from it.”

Lewis Hamilton

“It was an incredibly eventful hour: it’s hard work trying to determine exactly what’s happening with the weather and what tyres are needed, then finding the gap and getting a good lap under your belt. One of the biggest worries is that the track is drying all the time, so you’re always pushing to find the grip; but you also have to be mindful that you can come around on the next lap to find that it’s raining again, which can catch you out. That’s why it’s such an amazing and unpredictable venue. At the end of Q2, I came across the two Williams cars going quite slowly. I was able to get past Pastor [Maldonado] at the final corner, but I lost a little time in so doing. At the exit of Turn One, once we’d taken the chequered flag, we made contact; but fortunately I got back to the pits and the guys were able to change the front wing and patch up my sidepod. As ever, they did a great job to get me out again for Q3. The fortunate thing is that we were therefore able to complete the final session. Most importantly, too, we’re in a great position to fight for the race win tomorrow.”

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

Fernando Alonso

“Eighth is definitely not a good result, but we have to accept it and try to make up for this bad qualifying in tomorrow’s race. I am confident because I know the car’s true potential is definitely better than this position. We did a good job of managing Q1 and Q2, even if the red flag in the second part put us under a bit of pressure because there were only seven minutes left and at that time I was not through to Q3. In the dry I don’t think I could have fought for pole position, but I could have been at least on the front two rows. 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. That’s how it was, but definitely there is a sense of regret, as I could have got a better place. No one is really sure what the relative strengths are down the field: all weekend long we have seen very big gaps of seconds not tenths, depending on when the cars were out on track and also, we don’t have an idea about tyre degradation. We will see what happens: I am voting for a dry race and we will do all we can to get on the podium.”

Felipe Massa

“At the start of the session, when the rain came down, if I had been offered a fourth place, I would have signed for it on the spot. My result isn’t bad, even if the cars ahead of me have shown a much quicker pace. However, it’s true that conditions in Q3 were the worst possible for us: we could not get the best grip level right from the start, because we struggled a lot to get the tyres up to temperature. I think that tomorrow, if we have a dry track, we could be more competitive and I hope to be fighting with the drivers who are ahead of me today. It’s difficult to make predictions, because we don’t have much data on tyre degradation, but I think we will see two or three stops. Starting from the dirty side of the track again? True, but it’s not as much of a disadvantage here as it was in Budapest and so I think I can have a normal start.”

Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team

Michael Schumacher

“Well, obviously I would have wished for a different end to today’s qualifying, but it is difficult to drive on three wheels – even if I should have the experience to do so in Spa. Seriously, this is certainly something that should not occur, but then this is also Formula One; we are working at the highest level but still things can happen. At first, I wasn’t sure what had happened, as I just felt myself lose the back end suddenly which is why I instantly apologised to the team. But then I saw the wheel off the car and understood the reason why I had lost control. Trying to find the good in the bad, I’d probably say that I still have some fresh sets of tyres left, and that there is only one direction to go tomorrow: forward.”

Nico Rosberg

“It was a typical Spa day today, and a difficult situation out there with the conditions changing all the time. Wet, intermediates and dry tyres; we had everything today but we made the most out of it. Two cars from the top three teams are starting behind me which is nice to see. The team really got it right with the strategy, and everything that we did worked out well today. I’m confident for a good result tomorrow as we set the car up with the race conditions in mind, and the car has also been working well in all conditions.”

Lotus Renault GP

Bruno Senna

“I am really quite satisfied with my qualifying and I don’t think my first weekend racing for Lotus Renault GP could have started much better; I wasn’t expecting to be in the top ten when I set out this afternoon. I was a little nervous going out in Q3 using dry tyres on a damp track, because I hadn’t managed much running on them this morning or yesterday. Bearing this in mind, I feel absolutely delighted with P7. Leading up to qualifying, I’d been working on getting a good performance in the wet, and I knew that if qualifying was fully wet I would be in a strong position, so to perform well on dry tyres is a fantastic feeling. Looking ahead to the race, I’ll take everything step by step. The car was very good to me in qualifying so I hope this is something that repeats itself tomorrow. This circuit has been kind to me in the past and I hope that continues; the weekend is just getting better and better for me!”

Vitaly Petrov

“It’s a good feeling to qualify in the top ten again, even though I would like to have finished higher than P10. I will need to sit down with the engineers to discover what happened in Q3 when I spun, but the conditions throughout qualifying were very, very difficult. It was challenging for the team to know which tyres to select because the weather changed more than once in the hour-long session and this really tested us. As a whole, the weekend has been interesting because we’ve seen several different tyre compounds used, but the most important thing is we came out with both cars in the top ten. It’s good to see the team members with smiles on their faces once again!”

AT&T Williams

Rubens Barrichello

“Today was one of those qualifying session that I enjoy very much. We have a new package for this race but the car is still not as fast as we would wish. Unfortunately I had traffic all the way through which is a shame as if it wasn’t for that, I’m really sure we could have gone into Q3.”

Pastor Maldonado

“It was a difficult qualifying because of the changing conditions and I had some problems with the balance because of that, especially during Q1. I was expecting a bit more in Q2 and thought we’d make it through to Q3 but I had traffic in my final lap which cost me a quicker time. This race is a long one and I think our pace is better here so we will see. About what happened with Lewis. He slowed down a lot at the end of the session, so I tried to go past him. I then felt contact at the back of my car. I don’t really know what happened. It was a difficult moment.”

Force India Formula One Team

Adrian Sutil

“What happened today is such a shame because the car has felt so good during practice. Q1 was quite straightforward for me, but in Q2 I made a little mistake on the exit of Eau Rouge. I ran a bit wide, touched the kerb and the rear of the car went away from me and sent me into the barrier. It was not a very big impact, but it damaged the front and left side of my car. I think without this we could have qualified in a very strong position. Tomorrow we expect the conditions to be drier and we know that anything can happen in the race – especially at Spa. So I will try not to be too disappointed today and concentrate on doing a good job tomorrow.”

Paul Di Resta

“Starting P18 is not what I had in mind for my first Belgian Grand Prix. We chose to go out at the start of Q1 and sat out the middle part so that we could make the most of the track conditions at the end of the session. Unfortunately it started raining again and I got caught out at the chicane and spun on what would have been my quickest lap. On the next lap the team called me in thinking the track was wet and that we were safe, but when I got back to the pits they told me that Kovalainen had gone quicker, which knocked me out of qualifying. It’s really frustrating because there was a lot more to come and we could have been much further up the grid. Fortunately Spa is a track where you can overtake so we have plenty of work to do tomorrow to try and move through the pack.”

Sauber F1 Team

Sergio Pérez

“I’m happy. It was a very difficult but good qualifying for the team. We have put ourselves in a good position to score points tomorrow. In Q3, when I was on dry tyres for the first time in today’s qualifying and obviously using the soft compound, the track was drying quickly with the conditions improving every single lap. In Q1 and Q2 especially it wasn’t easy with the car being set up for the dry conditions that are expected tomorrow. I’m glad it all worked out today. I was in Q3 for the third time and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do from what is my best grid position so far in Formula One.”

Kamui Kobayashi

“Of course it is a shame I missed Q3 by a small margin, but overall it was a good qualifying performance from us today. Because of our timing at the end of Q2, when we were running intermediate tyres on the drying track, I took the chequered flag a little bit earlier than the others. This meant with the rapidly improving track conditions my time then just wasn’t good enough for Q3, but, given the fact we were running a dry set-up with very little rear wing, it went really well today. The forecast predicts dry conditions for tomorrow, and I hope that is correct because in Spa you can never be sure about it.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Jaime Alguersuari

“This was my best ever performance and the best for the team this year. I think I have to be very happy with this and also because my team-mate came very close to Q3, which shows we have done a good job, not just on the car but in the way we managed the session, being the first out of the pits to get a clear track. The weather helped, because the car worked very well on the intermediates and the extreme wets, but we have also been quick in dry conditions. We knew we had a better car here than in Hungary and we have learned a lot about it so far this weekend. Certainly the DRS is now working better than ever before. Hopefully tomorrow I can do a good job again and score some more points and I believe we have a good chance of doing that, if we stay calm, because our car has a good pace. The start from the third row will be very important and maybe tricky and I hope it stays dry.”

Sebastien Buemi

“It was not easy this afternoon, because the track dried very quickly after the rain actually stopped falling. Therefore you had to get a good lap at just the right time. I managed to do that right up until the end, when I made a small mistake. I am a bit angry with myself for that, but eleventh is still a good place to start the race tomorrow. I think we have opted for a good compromise in terms of car settings for the race. In any case, the team seems to have made a lot of progress in performance terms so I hope this translates into a good race, because it’s tomorrow that the points are given out.”

Team Lotus

Heikki Kovalainen

“I think we can be very pleased with the performance today. That last lap in Q1 was as much as I could get out of the car and to get back into Q2 is obviously a great result for the whole team. We had the right plan for the conditions, put it into action on track and it paid off. I don’t think I could have got any more out of the package today, so finishing where we did goes down as objective achieved for today. It looks like it’ll be a dry race tomorrow, and I think the key for us is to make sure both cars finish. If we can do that, be there to take advantage of anything that happens, and leave Spa having got into Q2 and had a solid race, this will go down as a good weekend for us.”

Jarno Trulli

“Another good day for the team and congratulations for Heikki for getting back into Q2. For me it was looking pretty good until traffic pretty much ruined my second run, but the car felt good as the track was drying up and we were definitely on the right strategy for the conditions so it’s a shame we couldn’t make the most of it, but when everyone’s out like that trying to get times in you’re always going to have some issues with traffic, and it’s unlucky it hit my last run in Q1 today.”

Hispania F1 Racing

Daniel Ricciardo

“As we expected, today has been a little tricky with the changing conditions, especially during qualifying. The track was pretty damp at the beginning but started to dry with a few minutes to go. There was one lap where you could make the most of it, but I missed it. We also had a bit of a mechanical problem that didn’t help. It was a combination of things. Small mistakes cost quite a lot of time in these sorts of conditions. I’ve been slowly improving but not enough and there are a few areas that I need to work on. But I’m confident for tomorrow. Races are always special and I’ll do my best, as always. It is important to make a good start and see where we can go from there.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi

“It was a very intense qualifying session. With every lap that passed, the track conditions changed, with some areas still damp from the rain and others dry. We were improving lap by lap but on my last lap I lost around eight tenths because I came up behind a slower car. I think we could have even caught Glock. In the end this was not to be, but we were still close to Virgin. We’ve got a lot of work ahead this evening. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we need to focus on our pace if we are to beat Virgin in the race. I’m sure it will be a very interesting race and, if the conditions are the same, just as crazy as in Canada.”

Marussia Virgin Racing

Timo Glock

“In general today’s qualifying was quite okay, but for some reason we had a lot of trouble in the first stint, on the first set of tyres, because we made a change from Free Practice 3 to qualifying and maybe it wasn’t the correct one. It was really difficult. I then came in for a new set of Intermediate tyres and in general I think the lap was okay, even though on the data the lap looked more like a Rally lap! Nevertheless we got the most out of the car and I’m happy with the result.”

Jérôme D’Ambrosio

“Of course I’m a bit disappointed about the result, but I’m really happy with my pace this weekend. I think I had a good feeling with the car, I was happy with everything and my performance in normal conditions was quite good. We got it a bit wrong with the strategy – we should have pitted really. But again, it’s very difficult to decide a call like that because it might have just rained a bit earlier and then it wouldn’t have worked. So basically it could have been better but in terms of performance we are there, so it should be good for tomorrow’s race.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Formula 1 – Sebastien Vettel Leads Red Bull Racing 1-2 In Spa | Beyond The Red Line - August 29, 2011

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