The championship leader took his fifth pole position of 2010 with his first flying lap in Q3, before light rain fell at the end of the session and effectively put paid to any hopes anyone else had of bettering his time.
Lewis Hamilton threw the kitchen sink at a good lap and came just eight-hundredths short of snatching pole position from the Australian, and he lines up ahead of Robert Kubica, whose Renault has shown an improved turn of speed with its ‘F-duct’ finally being debuted.
Sebastian Vettel will share the second row of the grid with Kubica, and will be hoping to limit the points damage that could be inflicted by his faster team-mate, Webber.
Occupying the third row is Jenson Button, who also managed to improve his position with his final attempt, bumping Felipe Massa down to sixth.
Rubens Barrichello will start from seventh place on his 300th Grand Prix weekend, ahead of the Force India of Adrian Sutil, who is looking very impressive when the conditions are greasy.
One driver to suffer in the final stage of qualifying was Fernando Alonso, who could manage no better than tenth on the grid after a mistake on his first flying lap. He lines up alongside the Williams of Nico Hülkenberg.
The Mercedes GP duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg looked like possible candidates for a Q3 berth – even though both drivers would be issued with grid penalties – but couldn’t string a fast enough lap together.
Qualifying began in chaos, with black clouds threatening to interrupt proceedings and cause havoc for the drivers, who all queued at the end of the pit lane to post a competitive lap time as quickly as possible.
The delay was enough to see the heavens open, dumping rain at the Rivage and Stavelot corners.
Lucas di Grassi, Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil all ran off the circuit at Stavelot before the cirucit had dried out sufficiently.
In the closing minutes of Q1, both McLarens, Williams and Mercedes GP drivers had posted competitive times on dry tyres. The Saubers of Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi tried to run on dry tyres as well, but fell off the circuit.
With Petrov, de la Rosa and Kobayashi all unable to post competitive lap times to escape Q1, this meant that Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock would represent the rookie teams’ cohort in Q2.
The fastest Q2 times were set right when the track was drying out at the end, and the two McLarens were the only ones who could break beneath the 1:47 barrier. Not surprisingly, Glock and Kovalainen wound up slowest of all in this session (with Heikki getting the better of Timo this time), and the session also saw both Toro Rossos and Vitantoio Liuzzi eliminated along with the two Mercedes GP drivers.
With tomorrow’s race giving indication to more mixed-weather conditions, it will certainly be a fascinating race…
2010 Belgian GP Qualifying Times:
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||1:57.352||1:47.253||1:45.778|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||1:58.487||1:47.245||1:46.127|
|8.||Adrian Sutil||Force India||1:58.730||1:47.292||1:46.659|
|11.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||1:56.313||1:47.874|
|12.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||1:54.826||1:47.885|
|13.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||1:58.944||1:48.267|
|14.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India||2:01.102||1:48.680|
|15.||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso||2:00.386||1:49.209|
|17.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||2:01.316||1:52.049|
|22.||Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber||2:05.294|
|23.||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing||2:18.754|
|24.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||no time|