SEPTEMBER 10, 2005
BELGIAN GP - SATURDAY - QUALIFYING SESSION 1 REPORT
Montoya on the pole
Juan Pablo Montoya took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix with the Formula 1 circus watching the skies wondering what the weather was going to do and pondering also what would happen in the race on Sunday. With the notorious weather at Spa, it was always going to be a bit of a lottery on Saturday after minimal running for all concerned in the rains on Friday. The skies were threatening when the qualifying session approached and those with money riding on the result took to shouting at the sky and doing rain dances. At one point a few drops did fall but it was not enough to disrupt the session and so we knew that we could expect a strong showing from McLaren. The Renault troops felt that their car would be well-suited to Spa but as always we will have to wait until Sunday to find out how much fuel the opposition was running. Strategy at Spa is never much of an issue as overtaking is possible but the key to the races is often the weather or the way in which teams react to disruptions, such as Safety Cars and rain storms.
What was interesting was that Kimi Raikkonen was second quickest but probably carried more fuel than Montoya and we must see what happens in the race. The Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella was third quickest but a change of engine before qualifying meant that the Italian would have to drop 10 places on the grid, which will make life difficult for Fizzy. Fisichella did admit that his speed was in part due to a low downforce set-up which helped him qualify well but which will probably make life difficult tomorrow if the rains do come visiting in the valley of the Eau Rouge.
Fernando Alonso seemed a little less forceful than normal but perhaps only because he was slower than Jarno Trulli's Toyota. Jarno is habitually branded this year as being a good qualifier but a less convincing racer with others queued up behind him and that must be a worry for Fernando Alonso who qualified only fifth, albeit ahead of the second Toyota of Ralf Schumacher and the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, which looked like it was running with a fairly light fuel load. The top 10 was completed by an impressive Felipe Massa in eighth, Jenson Button and Mark Webber.
As usual it remains to be seen whether the qualifying holds any secrets for the race. The one thing that one can bet on is that McLaren is completely in command - as long as the engines continue to function.