Webber takes Spa pole in thrilling qualifying
World championship leader Mark Webber will start tomorrow afternoon's Belgian Grand Prix from pole position after a frenetic qualifying session in the Ardennes on Saturday. Despite the team having concerns about the pace of chief rivals McLaren and Ferrari, Webber posted the quickest time of the deciding Q3 session to take his sixth career pole position, beating 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton and Renault's Robert Kubica to the honours.
After a brief red flag period to clear up Vitaly Petrov's Renault from the grass verge on the exit of turn 9, the rain soon decended on Spa-Francorchamps in Q1, sending drivers spinning in all directions at the Stavelot turn. While many drivers managed to complete their laps on slick tyres, many went quicker when returning to the track with intermediates. Jarno Trulli, Kamui Kobayashi, Bruno Senna, Sakon Yamamoto, Pedro de la Rosa, Lucas Di Grassi and Vitaly Petrov all failed to progress.
In Q2, conditions remained dry and fine throughout, with the usual suspects failing to graduate. Having got through to Q2, Lotus's Heikki Kovalainen and Virgin's Timo Glock secured 16th and 17th, while Mercedes GP's Michael Schumacher was unable to improve on his final lap after hitting traffic, putting him 11th with his 10-place penalty from Hungary putting him 21st on tomorrow's grid. Team-mate Nico Rosberg, who earlier got a grid penalty for a gearbox change, also dropped out in Q2. Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Sebastien Buemi were the others to get knocked out.
Into Q3 and the jury was still out on who would take pole, given the uncertain weather conditions up until then. Webber took provisional pole with a time of 1m45.778s, followed by Kubica (1m46.100s) and Hamilton. A short rain shower soon returned to disrupt the action again, meaning only Hamilton improved his laptime on his second run, promoting him to second on a 1m45.863s and demoting Kubica to third. Sebastian Vettel took fourth, followed by McLaren's Jenson Button and Ferrari's Felipe Massa. Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten.
Taking Schumacher and Rosberg's penalties into account, tomorrow's provisional grid reads: Webber, Hamilton, Kubica, Vettel, Button, Massa, Barrichello, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Alguersuari, Liuzzi, Buemi, Kovalainen, Glock, Rosberg, Trulli, Kobayashi, Senna, Yamamoto, Schumacher, de la Rosa, Di Grassi and Petrov.