Belgian GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Webber takes Spa pole
Mark Webber secured pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix with a first run Q3 time that put him four tenths clear of the field.
Webber lapped in 1:45.778, the first sub 1:46s lap of the weekend, and then light rain just before the end of the session caused a scramble for everyone to try to improve, which was largely in vain.
One man for whom it wasn't though, was Lewis Hamilton (1:45.863), who produced a stupendous on-the-edge lap and only just failed to bump the championship leader from the pole.
His lap was just nine hundredths behind the Red Bull and was sufficient to knock Robert Kubica's Renault off the front row, the Pole fast all weekend on the first occasion that Renault has run an F-duct.
Sebastian Vettel (1:46.127) must contemplate a start from slot four, with his team mate and chief rival on pole and two of F1's toughest guys separating him from the faster RB6. More than that, he has Jenson Button's McLaren (1:46.206) right behind him, with its strong straightline speed likely to offer a first lap challenge up the hill out of Eau Rouge and into Les Combes.
A delighted Webber said: "We knew the first lap was going to be important because of the unpredictability of the weather. This year it has been so on and off, even for Spa. I was happy with my first lap but you never know in this company if it's going to be enough. Lewis did a great job and improved, so congratulations to him. But this is a special place to get pole and I'll do my best tomorrow to take advantage."
Hamilton will also be well positioned to give Webber a tough time on the opening lap and is looking to score strong points.
"Mark did a fantastic job and it was tricky today with changing conditions. My first Q3 run wasn't a great lap. Turn 14 was drying out, I was first to get there and I didn't know how hard I could push. The second lap was good but I lost three and a half tenths in the first sector, which was already damp. The car feels pretty good here though, so we are in a good position."
Kubica was also pleased with his first Q3 run but was unable to do a second one as a suspected fuel pick-up problem afflicted the Renault on the 'in' lap after the first run.
"It was a good session," he said. "We've been competitive in all conditions and we had a bit of a black moment when the car stopped running in Q3, so I was just praying for rain and got it, but it wasn't enough to stop Lewis. It's been good though, the F-duct has worked perfectly from the first lap but anything can happen here and what's important is that we have been to in the top five in every session, so we're looking good. I think Red Bull is out of reach but we will do our best."
Felipe Massa (1:46.314) was sixth quickest with the faster of the two Ferraris, while 300 GP man Rubens Barrichello did a superb job to put the first of the Williams-Cosworths seventh on the grid. Adrian Sutil lines up eighth for Force India (1:46.659), while Nico Hulkenberg (1:47.053) was also impressive in putting the second Williams in the top 10 on his first visit to Spa in an F1 car. Fernando Alonso (1:47.441) completed the top 10 after a disappointing first run and no chance to make amends when the rain came.