Spa-Francorchamps: Free Practice 3 & Qualifying

Free Practice 3:

  • Ferrari: Despite saying they’ve shifted focus to 2012, they’ve brought several small front wing upgrades this weekend. Massa has used 2 sets of full wets and so both drivers have done limited running to preserve tyres.
  • Force India: Di Resta had a moment at Eau Rouge and then just leaves the track for a moment at the turn 5 chicane, he then spins at Pouhon. Sutil comes rather close to Rosberg on the final corner down the start/finish straight.
  • Hispania: Ricciardo goes out for a cautious installation lap halfway through the session.
  • Lotus: The team did send both of their drivers out on intermediates.
  • McLaren: Hamilton struggles around on his installation lap when he calls the conditions ‘massively wet’. Button was the last to return to the garage, describing the conditions as bad as Canada and asked for a new race suit. Both drivers went out on full wets. With 15 minutes to go they’ve only done their installation laps and are saving tyres.
  • Mercedes: Schumacher tries out the intermediates with 15 minutes left, as he laps he takes off 4 tear off strips suggesting he’s got water trapped between the layers. Rosberg has a front right puncture with 10 minutes to go, and he damage on the right side of his new front wing.
  • Red Bull: Vettel reporting there is a lot of rain at 12/13 turn.
  • Renault: Petrov has has his steering wheel replaced overnight. Senna has a moment at turn 5 chicane halfway through his first outing of the day, aquaplaning on the standing water.
  • Sauber: Perez reporting back to his engineer that there is a ‘lot of water’ on track.
  • Toro-Rosso: Alguersuari sets a purple sector but has to back out as the car doesn’t quite have the downforce to cope. But as the weather improves both drivers are putting in relative competitive times and spend equal time in P1.
  • Williams: Both drivers get their first run on the wets with half an hour to go.
  • Virgin: D’Ambrosio is first out on the wet track on intermediates.

Top FP3 times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Mark Webber Red Bull 2:08.988
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 2:09.046
3 Jaime Alguersauri Toro Rosso 2:09.931

Read: Full FP3 Results

Qualifying:

Q1

The 20 minute session starts dry and sunny, but rain is predicted to interrupt at some point. Toro Rosso, Virgin and Hispania are among the first to leave on intermediates. And within a few minutes after the green light Schumacher loses a rear right wheel and continues into the barrier at turn 8. Rubens Barrichello is late to leave as he’s having his floor replaced for a set up change. Due to the incident no one set a lap time until 15 minutes flashes up on the clock, the first are the Toro Rosso boys who were the first out. As the front runners wind up the times start to fall as they make the most of the relatively calm weather conditions, but we see the likes of Force India making a bit for life ahead of Mclaren, but this dream is short lived. With 11 minutes left everyone apart from Schumacher is out as a dry line appears around the circuit, conflicting weather reports from McLaren and Ferrari, the former saying it’s going to drier and the latter forecasting rain in 5 minutes. Senna has seemingly gotten over his previous wobbles and enjoys the drying conditions ahead of team mate Petrov. 8 minutes on the clock and Webber is slashing the time, but Hamilton creeps ahead by 2 tenths. He may have been told to preserve his tyres, but Button is going strong enough to take the top time momentarily before Hamilton regains it. 5 minutes left and Alonso gets the heat in his tyres to go third but Button finds 1.2 seconds to go top once more. Both Ferrari’s pit with 2.5 minutes to go, Massa leaves the track in 11th. There’s a scary moment as with a minute to go he’s in the last qualifying position with one lap left, and it seems he has just done it but Kovalainen gets into P16 and pushes di Resta out. Button has a second over closest driver Webber.

Out in Q1 are: DIR, TRU, GLO, DAM, LIU, RIC and all are inside the 107% rule apart from DAM, LIU, RIC.

Q2

Toro Rosso are out first again, trying to recapture the great times they set out in Q1. With only 15 minutes available for this session the rest of the teams are quick to follow to avoid being caught out by the rain. A spin at the top of Eau Rouge send Adrian Sutil off with a damages rear left tyre which red flags the session. Maldonado has an off on his way back to the pits. Once the session restarts everyone rushes out to secure their position for Q3, Alonso rejoins the track in P11, a dangerous place to be with the traffic and rain beginning to fall. But he’s in a Ferrari with a desire to win it’s no surprise when he goes fastest. But is soon overtaken by Button, Webber then Vettel. As they last of the runners rush desperately to cross the line Hamilton bumps into Maldonado. As they travel back to the pits, Maldonado looks to pull alongside Hamilton and purposely side-swipe him leaving the British driver with damage to fixed. Button is the shocker down in P13 and out. Great news for Senna as he makes it in Q3 for the first time.

Out in Q2 are: BUE, KOB, BUT, BAR, SUT, MAL, KOV.

Q3

Perez it out first as Hamilton’s car is still being fixed. Massa goes through the gravel and is told to continue and get the temperature back into the tyres. Hamilton leaves it garage with 7 minutes to go. All the cars are on slicks as Spa gives the drivers a brief respite from the rain, apart from Rosberg who makes a quick detour to get rid of his intermediates. Webber shows his strength around the circuit and goes top, leaving Hamilton and Vettel chasing. Vettel grabs provisional pole with a minute to go, Webber gets ahead but is soon beaten by Hamilton, but then on the final lap Vettel again takes pole position. Apart from the top 3 the rest of the top ten is definitely a mixed bag, Massa has outqualified Alonso, Senna has proved himself capable of getting good things out of his Renault in 7th. Jaime Alguersuari makes the most of the conditions and puts in a 6th place lap. Perez and Petrov round out the top ten and Rosberg sits himself in the middle (5th).

Top Qualifying times:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:48.298
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:48.730
3 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:49.376

Read: Full Qualifying Results

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