Belgium Grand Prix Formula One qualifying report
Today’s report from Formula One teams & drivers in Spa-Francorchamps.
Fomula One teams Belgian Grand Prix qualifying results
|5||Di Resta||Force India||2:02.332||1.320|
|14||Van der Garde||Caterham||1:52.036|
Red Bull Racing
BELGIAN GP – QUALIFYING
Car 1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Position: 2nd, (3rd Practice – P1, 1:48.327)
“It wasn’t clear if the first lap we did in Q3 was the lap on intermediate tyres – so it was hard to know where we were today. We went out on slicks to start, which was quite entertaining as it started to rain pretty heavily. We then went onto intermediates and it still wasn’t clear what would happen. It looked like there was more rain coming, so we all rushed to get a lap, but then it stopped and the circuit came back very quickly. The last lap tuned out to be the fastest with the circuit drying. It was difficult to know how fast you could go, I saw Lewis catching and thought I could have gone a bit quicker here and there, but in the end it was quite close across the line. In these conditions anything can happen. I’m happy today; the boys did a good job with the change from slicks to intermediates which got us an extra lap and it was a good day for the team.”
Car 2 MARK WEBBER, Position: 3rd, (3rd Practice – P3, 1:48.533)
“It was a difficult session to make all the right calls, but in the end I think we got most things right. I think it’s very easy to look stupid in those conditions, but in the end we did most things pretty good I’d say. It’s a little bit bizarre with the DRS going on and off in the session, but it’s the same for everyone. It was a ballsy thing to go slower on the second to last lap to save the tyres, when you’re still not sure if the track will improve for the last lap, but in the end it worked out and I’m happy to be up there for tomorrow’s race.“
CHRISTIAN HORNER: “A really tense and exciting qualifying through all three sessions where the weather played its inevitable part. The boys did a tremendous job on the final turnaround in Q3 to get both cars back out on track so quickly, which enabled Mark and Sebastian to get three timed laps each; their last laps were enough to put them second and third on the grid. So, despite the opportunity to get everything wrong today, we managed to get most of it right. It’s good to be starting second and third for tomorrow’s race, which will no doubt see the weather play a part.”
(Renault) THIERRY SALVI: “I’m sure everyone will say it, but we almost won the lottery, we just came up one number short! But a great effort from the team to finish P2 and P3, putting us in a perfect position for the race. We already know the power and the speed is there in the dry, so tomorrow it will be a case of staying on top of the fuel numbers, maps and tyres to take every opportunity.”
The Best of Belgium
As we mentioned yesterday, Spa has provided plenty of great racing moments and as such we asked our Facebook followers to nominate their top Belgian GP moments. And the overwhelming favourite?
1. Mark’s overtake of Fernando Alonso at Eau Rouge in 2011.
Nathan Wong called it “a huge move”, while Anne Shaw said it “still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up” and Brian Montford said it was “just ballsy, in true Aussie style”. To add to the eulogising, Adrian Ruzsicska who said “I couldn’t help but pause for breath even when watching a replay” and Tarish Bhatt thought it was so good he filled his top two places with the move.
After that the most popular were: Ricardo Zonta being the filling in a Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher overtaking sandwich in 2000 and the Top 3 was rounded out by the moment in 1992 when Eric Comas crashed heavily in practice and Ayrton Senna parked at the side of the track and went to the Frenchman’s aid.
Fernando Alonso: “When you end up ninth and tenth, clearly something has gone wrong and only analysing the data will be able to tell you what exactly, especially as the car was more competitive than in recent races. That’s partly down to the updates introduced here, which we had been working on since mid-July, when it was clear we had problems. Bad luck definitely played its part, because if the cloud that appeared in Q3 had not moved just before the end of the session, then maybe those who were last at that time would not have improved. In the final part, I spun on my first lap, a mistake which definitely cost me, even if by my next lap at the same point, at Turn 14, I had already made up three seconds. I feel reasonably confident for the race, especially as the variable weather conditions mean anything can happen and it’s not a given that one finishes where one starts. Of course, we must make up a lot of places, but at least we have the knowledge that we have closed the gap to the favourites and that we can be competitive in the dry. We saw that in Q2 and in the mixed conditions in Q1. Only the rain is the big question mark, because so far this weekend, we have never run on a track that is wet for its entire length”.
Felipe Massa: “I am very disappointed with the result of this qualifying, even if I am well aware how difficult it is to make the right decision at the right time when the weather is very changeable. On my first run in Q3, I went out on the Mediums and, at the moment it began to rain, I had two options: return to the pits to refuel and fit a new set of intermediates, or try and only change tyres. I went for the second of these choices, hoping to benefit from the track being at its best, knowing I would only have one lap left to try and do a good time. Unfortunately, this choice did not pay off, because just then the rain eased off and the other cars encountered better track conditions at the end of the session. A real shame, as the car’s been very competitive all weekend, but definitely today, we were a bit out of luck. Even if we are not starting from a good position tomorrow, the race is long and anything can happen. My pace is good and I hope to pull off some nice passing moves to bring home a good number of points”.
Pat Fry: “The result of this qualifying is certainly no reward for the efforts of the team and drivers, but rather it leaves a great sense of regret, especially due to the fact that today, everything was in place for us to aim for a front row slot. Yesterday’s and today’s practice produced encouraging signs; the car was quick in all conditions and on all the compounds we used, proving to be very competitive. An analysis of the data overlaying Fernando’s and Felipe’s performance had allowed us to find the right aerodynamic compromise for this track, both in the dry and the wet and for that reason, we were aspiring to a result we didn’t get, which was also partly down to bad luck. Now however, we must only turn the page and get ready to tackle a long and demanding race, when once again the weather will play a big part”.
ALONSO – Chassis 299 MASSA – Chassis 298
Q1 P1 2:00.190
New Intermediate – 7 laps
New Intermediate – 3 laps
New Intermediate – 7 laps
New Intermediate – 3 laps
Q2 P2 1:48.309
New Hard – 3 laps
New Medium – 3 laps
New Hard – 4 laps
New Medium – 3 laps
Q3 P9 2:03.482
New Medium – 1 lap
New Intermediate – 4 laps
New Medium – 1 lap
New Intermediate – 3 laps
Weather: air 20/21 °C, track 24 °C. Light rain
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Lotus F1 Team
Call Me The Breeze
Romain Grosjean qualified seventh with Kimi Räikkönen eighth after a rain tempered qualifying session for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Both drivers looked particularly potent in the dry Q2 session – with Kimi setting the fastest time – before rain returned for the top ten decider.
Kimi Räikkönen, E21-03. Q: P8, 2:03.390. FP3: P10, 1:49.008
“If it’s dry tomorrow we should be okay for the race; even though we will not start from a great position”
“When it was dry in the second qualifying session we were fastest, so if it’s dry tomorrow we should be okay for the race; even though we will not start from a great position. The last qualifying session was wet and our car does not give its best in these types of conditions. Any lap which came right at the end of the session would have helped, but if it stayed dry it would have helped more. Tomorrow is another day so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-05. Q: P7, 2:03.081. FP3: P8, 1:48.967
“While it’s good to be in the top ten, it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for”
“It wasn’t an easy session today with the changing weather and while it’s good to be in the top ten, it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for. It was a big challenge to know what condition the track was in, to make the right decisions at the right time and to adjust the speed according to the weather. At the end of qualifying you needed to be on the on track at the right time. I’ll work with the engineers later to assess why Kimi was a bit quicker in the dry, where we can improve in the wet, and options in terms of strategy. I’ll give my best in the race tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“We showed great pace in the dry; we didn’t in the wet when it mattered”
How was qualifying for the team?
It was a frustrating session for the team. The weather conditions were difficult, but the same for everyone. We displayed great pace in the dry with Kimi fastest in Q2, but unfortunately the rain returned for the final phase. We tried to get a lap in right at the start on dry tyres, but the rain beat the start of the session so we had to change to intermediates. Seventh and eighth on the grid isn’t where we want to be, but at least we’re in the top ten.
What are the strategic permutations tomorrow?
As we qualified on intermediate tyres we can start a dry race on either dry compound. A dry race would be better for us, but we can’t influence the weather. If it’s a wet race, there are many different permutations and conditions possible so we’ll be fighting for the very best result we can achieve.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
Spa – 24/08/2013
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg qualified in first and fourth positions respectively for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit after an eventful wet-dry qualifying session.
Lewis took the team’s eighth pole position in the past nine races and his fourth consecutive pole this afternoon
Nico qualified fourth and was fastest of all until the dying moments of the qualifying session
Four Mercedes-Benz powered cars qualified in the top six and it was the third Mercedes pole in five years at Spa
Weather forecasts currently predict similar mixed weather conditions for tomorrow afternoon’s race
Drivers No. Chassis No. Qualifying 1 Qualifying 2 Qualifying 3
Lewis Hamilton 10 F1 W04 / 04 2:00.368 P2 1:49.067 P10 2:01.012 P1
Nico Rosberg 9 F1 W04 / 03 2:01.099 P4 1:48.552 P3 2:02.251 P4
Weather Drying track in Q1; dry track in Q2; wet track in Q3
Temperatures Air: 20-21 °C Track: 20-24 °C
A fourth pole in a row just feels fantastic! The team did a great job to get the timing at the end of Q3 absolutely perfect and I was in exactly the right track position. I was so surprised when I came across the line to hear I was P1. I went wide in the first corner and I thought I was down on time from the read-out on my steering wheel. I just kept pushing and did a strong middle sector, then I could see I was catching Sebastian towards the end so it was a great feeling. I hope we can try and fight it out tomorrow, whatever the conditions. The Red Bulls are still ahead of us in terms of performance so results like this feel even more special because I know I’ve got the absolute maximum out of myself and out of the car.
It was a very difficult qualifying session and unfortunately luck wasn’t on my side today. When I took the chequered flag, I was quickest at that time, but the track quicker and quicker for the guys who had got the extra lap and eventually ended up in the top three positions, so I must be happy with fourth place on the grid. Our car seems pretty good in all conditions here this weekend which makes me hopeful of a strong race performance tomorrow afternoon.
It was obviously a very tricky session for everybody this afternoon and we were far from perfect but we did enough things right to get the job done. In the closing seconds of Q3, track position was critical and Lewis – running last on the road on the final lap – did a great job with the opportunity he had. We were not sure how it would turn out as DRS had been disabled for that final lap, then we saw his time in the second sector and started to get excited. Nico didn’t get the extra lap but he was fastest of all when his session ended and it’s a fantastic team result to have two cars starting in the top four after such a mixed qualifying. We are expecting similar conditions tomorrow so we will have a good chance of success. But we will have to run a smart race and make the right decisions to do achieve it.
That was a very tough qualifying session and another one where it was easier to get things wrong than right. It was very close indeed for Lewis in Q2 when he made it through by just two-hundredths of a second and that showed how challenging the entire hour was in terms of tactics and strategy. It was crucial to get on track at the right time and our result in Q3 was a great team performance. Both drivers produced special laps: Nico was top of the timesheets when he took the chequered flag and then Lewis delivered another of his magic laps, especially in the middle sector. Our engineers have clearly found a good set-up for these mixed conditions and we are expecting more of the same kind of weather tomorrow.
Sauber F1 Team
- Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying – Saturday, 24.08.2013
- Weather: rainy, 20-21°C air, 21-25°C track
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps once again lived up to its reputation: just before the start of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix it started to rain. All the drivers changed to intermediate tyres. During Q1 the circuit dried, so some drivers changed to slicks at the end of the first session. The qualifying didn’t go at all to plan for the Sauber F1 Team. Esteban Gutiérrez, who showed strong skills before this weekend, was knocked out in Q1 by qualifying 21st, because timing for the second set of intermediates wasn’t right. Nico Hülkenberg had tough luck as well and missed Q3 by just three hundredths of a second.
- Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari 056)
- Qualifying: 11th in Q2 (1:49.088 / medium tyres)
- 3rd practice: 17th (1:49.478 min / medium tyres / 19 laps)
“It was a tricky day again qualifying in weather conditions like these. This morning I was struggling a bit on the medium tyre. Again this afternoon it wasn’t’ the easiest, but I guess that’s the same for everyone with the weather, as it’s always challenging. It was a wet Q1, which is always exciting, but I think we did a solid job there. We were only missing about three hundredths to get into Q3. P11 seems to stick to me. But it’s a good starting point for tomorrow. I hope we have a good race pace, so that we can score some points.”
- Sauber C32-Ferrari (Chassis 04/Ferrari 056)
- Qualifying: 21st in Q1 (2:04.324 min / intermedium tyres)
- 3rd practice: 7th (1:48.930 min / medium tyres / 18 laps)
“I’m much happier with the car today. We were able to solve the issues we had in FP2 yesterday. Everything was looking good until the last part of Q1. We changed to a new set of intermediates too early, and that was the wrong choice. The track was drying and the tyres were gone after one lap, which was the main issue. There is not much we could have done at that moment, when the decision was already made, but I tried to do the best with what I had. In these weather conditions, it all comes down to the right tyre selection. Tomorrow will be a gamble too as the forecast is changeable. It will come down to the strategy, so we have to be very flexible, open to everything and very efficient. Whether it’s a dry or a wet race, we need to get it right.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal:
“The result today does not reflect our true potential. We came ever so close to our direct competitors this weekend and made a step forward. That’s why I’m not satisfied with the result, particularly because we missed Q3 yet again by just three hundredths of a second. The chance to still score points in the race tomorrow is quite high, so we will concentrate on that now.”
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering:
“We were happy with the overnight changes we made, and the cars performed well in the dry FP3. It was a typical eventful, wet-dry Spa-Francorchamps qualifying. Ultimately, for Esteban we didn’t make the most of it going out in Q1. For Nico it was frustrating in Q2 being so close to make it to Q3. Maybe we were a bit conservative running the new tyre a bit earlier than some of the competition. But this is a circuit where anything can happen in the race, and we’ll make the most with our strategy tomorrow.”
Sahara Force India F1 Team
2013 Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Report
Sahara Force India came through a challenging qualifying session of varied weather conditions with Paul Di Resta qualifying in fifth place ahead of Adrian Sutil in P12.
P5 Paul Di Resta VJM06-04
- Q1: 2:02.338
- Q2: 1:48.925
- Q3: 2:02.332
Paul: “Fifth place on the grid is a great result. At the start of Q3 I knew that I wanted to go straight out on the intermediates. It was a brave decision and the team let me go ahead with it, while the others chose dry tyres. I knew it was our best chance to get up towards the front of the grid and it paid off. It’s a shame that the rain stopped a bit too early because there were only a few cars that were quicker than us in the wet and they just got ahead at the end of the session. The main thing is we are in a strong position for tomorrow and we will come back tomorrow ready to fight.”
P12 Adrian Sutil VJM06-03
- Q1: 2:02.749
- Q2: 1:49.103
Adrian: “I’m feeling disappointed with how things ended up today because I think we had the potential to get a better result. In Q2 I was on my final flying lap a bit too early and the track was getting quicker all the time. So we should have waited a bit longer and I think that would have made the difference to make the top ten. Also, I had some traffic on my fastest lap and that cost me some time.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal & Managing Director
“As soon as it started raining before qualifying we knew that it was likely to be an unpredictable qualifying session. The track conditions were constantly changing from wet to dry and it was vital to be on track at the right time on the right tyres. With Paul we judged this pretty much to perfection and for a while we were looking good for a front row start. But the rain eased up and he dropped down to fifth, which is still an excellent result. Adrian looked competitive in Q2 but we didn’t maximise our time on the drying track and he missed out on Q3. The big question mark for tomorrow is the weather. We’ve looked more competitive in the dry, but whatever the conditions we will push hard to come away with a strong result.”
Belgian GP Qualifying
Saturday 24 August, 2013
- Pastor Maldonado qualified 17th with Valtteri Bottas 20th for tomorrows Belgian Grand Prix.
- Both drivers went out early on intermediate tyres on a drying track, but as the track conditions improved their tyres were past their best and they were not able to progress into Q2.
- The FW35′s stronger race pace means that the team will be looking to make up places in the race tomorrow.
Xevi Pujolar, Chief Race Engineer: We knew qualifying would be wet and it started well with the track getting better throughout Q1. The end of the session would be where it was all decided and we brought both cars in for a new set of intermediate tyres. A few teams took the risk to change onto dry tyres, which worked for them, although the majority came in for intermediates as well. We were at the front of the queue so had time for more laps, but as the tyres were at their best on the first lap it meant that as the track improved we were unable to improve our times and unfortunately we did not progress beyond Q1. Overtaking is possible at Spa-Francorchamps and we have a good car for the race with a good top speed, so we can still make progress in the race tomorrow.
Pastor Maldonado: Today the changing weather conditions made it difficult to be on the right tyres at the right time and we went on to the intermediate tyre a bit too early. The lap here is very long and by the time I got to my second lap when the track was improving, the tyres had already gone and I couldn’t be competitive. The cars race pace is quite good so we will be pushing hard to make up places and I still think we have an opportunity to finish in the top 10.
Valtteri Bottas: It was a disappointing qualifying because we had the ability to be higher but we were caught out by the changing track conditions. We went out on intermediate tyres earlier than others but the track was drying faster than we expected and by the end we could probably have got away with being on dry tyres. We were also struggling for overall grip on the intermediates and we were sliding quite a lot in the corners and this was losing us time. It’s a shame as there was a good opportunity to do well today, but hopefully the weather will be like this tomorrow as it gives us the chance to look at different strategy options.
Track Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Race length 7.004 kms / 4.352 miles
Weather Cloudy with some rain
Temperatures Air: 20 – 21C Track: 20 – 24C
POS DRIVER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3
1 L Hamilton Mercedes
Scuderia Toro Rosso
2013 BELGIAN GRAND PRIX – SATURDAY 24/08/2013
Jean-Eric Vergne (STR8-03)
- Third Practice Session
- Best lap: 1:48.776, pos. 4th, 15 laps
- Best lap: (Q1) 2:03.300, pos. 18th
“What happened today is easy to explain, it was just a team mistake. These things shouldn’t happen, but everyone gets it wrong now and again. It is very frustrating, as the car has been good enough this weekend to qualify really well in either the wet or the dry. As soon as I left the pits for the second time, I knew I was in trouble and I also had a bit of trouble with traffic, with some cars on slicks around me. Therefore, this was a clear missed opportunity, as I believe I could have been in the top five in the dry and the car was clearly working well in the wet too. It’s going to take me a bit of time to get over the disappointment, but now there is no use getting angry and, in any case, I really believe I can still have a good race tomorrow and score some points. We can learn from this afternoon and ensure we don’t make this mistake again.”
Daniel Ricciardo (STR8-01)
- Third Practice Session
- Best lap: 1:49.035, pos. 11th, 15 laps
- Best lap: (Q1) 2:03.317, pos. 19th
“That was down to bad timing more than anything else. We went out at the very start of the session and that went fine, with a wet track and the chance of it getting a bit wetter before drying out later. I believe we should have waited a bit longer before fitting the second set of Intermediates. We went out too early for that second run and by the second lap, the tyres were already worn and that was when the track conditions were at their best. Obviously, it’s very frustrating, but now all we can do is put it behind us and concentrate on tomorrow. We have to learn from this and make sure we get it right next time.”
James Key: “Up until Q1 we had been having a strong weekend, looking competitive in the dry and not too bad in the wet either in FP1. Jean-Eric in particular was showing good form and looking forward to qualifying, so we went into Q1 knowing there was a good chance the track would dry out towards the end. We timed our final tyre change at a similar moment to others, but somehow we were in the wrong place at the wrong time today: we should have had two cars in Q3, instead they both went out in Q1. Should we have switched to slicks? Some of the cars that are usually at the back of the grid took that risk, but in our case, it’s hard to know. As a team, we should apologise to the drivers, work out what went wrong to ensure we don’t do it again and, most importantly, see what we can do to still get the best out of the cars tomorrow.”
Spa Francorchamps, Belgium – 24th August 2013
Caterham F1 Team Partner information
McGregor Fashion Group employs more than 1200 people across Europe and will turnover almost €261 million this year
FP3: Overcast, dry; min / max track temp 22° – 25°, air temp 20° – 21°
Q1: Overcast, light rain; min / max track temp 21° – 23°, air temp 20°
Q2: Overcast, dry: min / max track temp 23°, air temp 20°
Fastest laps / positions:
FP3: PIC 1.51.416, 19th / VDG 1.51.800, 20th
Q1: VDG 2.00.564, 3rd / PIC 2.07.384, 22nd
Q2: VDG 1.52.036 14th
FP3: PIC 15 / VDG 18
Q1: VDG 10 / PIC 8
Q2: VDG 5
Charles Pic, car #20, chassis CT03-06
1104 – 1114: Run 1, 5 laps (hard tyres)
Changes: front / rear ride height, front brake duct blanking, front toe
1127 – 1138: Run 2, 5 laps (hard tyres)
Changes: front wing flap angle, front brake duct blanking
1150 – 1201: Run 3, 5 laps (medium tyres)
1400 – 1414: Run 1, 5 laps (intermediate tyres)
Changes: front wing flap angle
1414 – 1421: Run 2, 3 laps (intermediate tyres)
Giedo van der Garde, car #21, chassis CT03-04
1103 – 1119: Run 1, 7 laps (hard tyres)
Changes: front wing flap angle, front / rear brake duct blanking
1126 – 1139: Run 2, 6 laps (hard tyres)
1150 – 1201: Run 3, 5 laps (medium tyres)
1400 – 1412: Run 1, 5 laps (intermediate tyres)
Changes: front wing flap angle
1412 – 1422: Run 2, 5 laps (medium tyres)
1429 – 1442: Run 1, 5 laps (medium tyres)
Charles Pic: “Saturday started well for me. On the first FP3 run the car balance immediately felt better than either session on Friday, especially mid-corner so it was easier to put the car where I wanted it in the corners. Overnight we’d also improved the downforce levels so the whole package felt better. For run two we made a small change to improve grip and that also worked so we went onto the option tyres with a car that was working well and that carried through to the performance run.
“For quali the rain had started just before the session but it wasn’t too heavy so we went straight out on a set of intermediate tyres which we had good pace on in the wet conditions. My first run was good and a dry line was just starting to appear when I came in to pit. Unfortunately I was then called to the weighbridge which cost us the time needed to do three laps with the set of slicks so the team made the call to stay on the inters for the second run and unfortunately it didn’t work out. I’m obviously pleased for the team that Giedo made it through to Q2 but now my focus is on fighting for a decent finish tomorrow and with the weather looking like it could be as changeable as it was today we could have some good opportunities to fight in the race. ”
Giedo van der Garde: “What a fantastic day! I’m so pleased for the whole team that we made our second appearance of the year in Q2, that we finished clear of the Marussias and start the race from 14th. It was a pretty brave call to be the first to go out on slicks and for the first lap it looked like it might not pay off, but then on the final lap of Q1 I had it all hooked up just right and finished the session the highest we’ve ever been in Q1. I have to say I didn’t really believe it when my engineer Juan told me where we were – I was just at the top of Eau Rouge on the cool down lap and he said I was in P3! That was such a good feeling, for me, the team and everyone who’s supported me.
“In Q2 we knew that if it stayed dry we’d be aiming for 14th and we went out on a set of mediums knowing we had to keep pushing as the track got better and better. I think there was maybe a little more laptime if we’d maybe started the run a bit later, but, realistically, not enough to go into Q3 so finishing 14th, over 0.5 seconds clear of our nearest rival was the target and we achieved it by good work from everyone.
“Saturday had started well after the guys did a good job on Friday night, making a number of changes to the car that meant I started Saturday with much better balance and with the oversteer we’d had on Friday gone. FP3 was a good session for me and we made further improvements on both runs on the hard tyres and on the mediums which were working pretty well on the performance run, but we knew there was still more to come in quali. We couldn’t have dreamt it would come together well enough for Q1 to end with me in P3, but we took full advantage of the conditions today and 14th is a just reward for being brave and taking our chance.”
Marussia F1 Team
ALL THE RIGHT CALLS
- 2013 Formula 1™ Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying
- Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
- Saturday 24 August 2013
- BIANCHI MR02-02 Q2 P15 1:52.563 10 laps
- CHILTON MR02-03 Q2 P16 1:52.762 10 laps
Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton triumphed over the tricky weather conditions in Spa today to help the Marussia F1 Team into Q2 in a breathtaking qualifying session which rewarded bravery on track and on the pit wall.
Having begun Q1 on a wet circuit with the Intermediate tyre, both drivers switched to the Medium rubber for their final run when, really, the track was still too damp for slicks. They completed just one lap before debating whether a switch back to Intermediates might be wise, but at the final corner Max and Jules took the eleventh hour, penultimate corner decision to stay out and gamble on the track drying adequately to enable them to push and steal a march on the competition. The gamble paid off and they displaced both the Williams cars, both Toro Rossos, a Sauber and a Caterham to give the Team that much-deserved Q2 feeling again – and in Belgium, the scene of the Marussia F1 Team’s last Q2 appearance.
Jules and Max again performed well on the Medium tyre in the much drier Q2 session to end the day in P15 and P16.
Jules Bianchi #22
“Today is a fantastic result for the Team, who were so happy to be back in Q2. This was a nice feeling for everybody, including myself, as this was also the first Q2 of my F1 career. Things have been steadily improving for us over the weekend and I’m really happy that all the hard work paid off for us today. This result was not about luck because everyone was faced with the same dilemma at the end of the Q1 session; whether it might be too dry for the Intermediate tyre or too wet for slicks. On the first lap on the final run it was hard to make up my mind what to do; only the drivers could see what the track condition was really like and it was different from corner to corner. By the end of the lap I had decided just to go for it and stay on the Medium tyre and that gamble was exactly the right call. Tomorrow we line up on the seventh row, which will be a nice moment, but of course we don’t really know what the weather will bring. We have everything to gain and we will make the most of every opportunity.”
Max Chilton #23
“What a great day for everyone! Together with Jules I’m so pleased to help put the Team into Q2 again. It was such a tricky qualifying, and as we can see from the classification, it’s difficult to make the right calls at a track where the lap is so long that the conditions are so different from corner to corner. When we switched to the dry tyre for the final run I was worried we may have made the wrong call and might have to switch back to the Intermediate but I also knew the track was drying quickly and we could easily make another wrong call by changing back. The engineers put the decision in my hands and I was undecided until the final corner, when I just made a judgment call in an instant and opted to stay out. I’m happy to say it was the right call and we went on to enjoy a strong Q2, when my time was pretty pleasing given that on my final run I was fuelled for two timed laps. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s race now, rain or shine.”
John Booth, Team Principal
“A fantastic result for the Team and it’s great to know that we have come so far operationally that we can now handle the scenario we saw today with such confidence. Although it is not the first time the Team has been in Q2, it is the first time that we achieved this with ‘both’ cars and in such challenging conditions. These were probably the most challenging wet conditions we have endured in Q1 in terms of the variation of water level through the lap and it really took mature heads on both of our drivers to take the necessary decisions guided by information provided from the garage. In general it has been a good day overall; we’ve seen a good balance on the car this morning, particularly for Jules, but during qualifying both drivers were the happiest they had been with the car all weekend, which should stand us in good stead for the race. We do however have both feet firmly on the ground and in what could be another wet scenario, remaining in our grid position will be tough. Nonetheless, it is a target every single member of the Team will be pushing for and we will make the most of every opportunity. Today’s result is a great reward for all the hard work the Team and Cosworth have carried out to come back from a challenging set of races recently to enable us to fare better at circuits which now play to the strength of our package.”
2013 Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying
PIRELLI CONFIRMS CAUSE FOR FRIDAY’S TYRE ISSUES
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has clinched his 31st career pole position, using the Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate, after one of the most exciting qualifying sessions seen all year that revolved around strategy. The sessions were all characterised by mixed weather, which made the timing of each qualifying lap crucial. The P Zero Orange hard and P Zero medium slick tyres – which were also used during qualifying – have been nominated for this weekend.
With rain falling at the start of Q1, the drivers lined up in the pitlane in order to set a banker time at the start of the 20-minute session, in case conditions got worse. All the drivers used the intermediate tyre at the beginning of the session, with a dry line beginning to emerge as the opening session went on. The Caterham of Giedo van der Garde and the two Marussias were the first to change to the medium compound with five minutes to go.
The track stayed dry for Q2, with all the drivers apart from the two Ferraris, the Red Bull of Mark Webber and the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton – who also ran the hard tyre – using the white medium tyre exclusively during this session. Red Bull’s Mark Webber initially went fastest on the hard compound, before being usurped by Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen on the medium – who ended up setting the fastest time in the session with the same compound.
The rain returned and then got harder towards the end of the final Q3 session. Force India’s Paul di Resta was the first to put on intermediate tyres and for most of the session it looked like this decision would be enough to give him his first pole position. But then, as the track dried in the closing seconds, first the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, followed by the two Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, and finally the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, successively went fastest. All of them used the intermediate tyre.
Vettel went fastest in the final free practice session this morning, with the drivers using the hard tyre for most of the session. At the end, Vettel set his fastest time on the medium tyre.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “Before talking about today’s thrilling qualifying session, we’d like to point out that overnight investigation of the two punctures that affected Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso during free practice yesterday resulted in a clear conclusion: Vettel’s puncture was caused by debris – a metal piece of another car – getting stuck between the floor and the wheel, while Alonso’s tyre was also clearly cut by the same piece. The markings on each tyre match up and this was also sustained in the same place: turn 13.
Today’s qualifying at Spa threw up the perennial problem of some parts of the track remaining wet while other sections dried up more rapidly. The track was evolving by the second, and the timing of the tyre choices proved to be crucial – bearing in mind that an out lap alone costs more than two minutes at Spa. In the first two sessions, establishing the crossover point from intermediates to slicks was the key, and that is likely to be very useful knowledge for tomorrow as well, with yet more uncertain weather predicted. Tomorrow the drivers will be able to start on whichever tyre compound they choose, which increases the options for strategy still further.”
The Pirelli mystery strategy predictor:
Belgium is one of the hardest races to predict a strategy for, due to the long lap and very variable weather as we saw today, as well as the fact that the drivers will have a free choice of starting tyres tomorrow.
Under normal circumstances, one or two stops are possible for the 44-lap race. A two-stop strategy is faster than a one-stop by three seconds, but only over the last five laps. So if there’s a safety car period for more than three to four laps, teams could revert to a one-stopper.
A two-stop strategy could be: start on the medium tyre, switch to medium again on lap 13 and hard on lap 25. Alternatively, start on the medium tyre, stop on lap 19 and then run to the finish on the hard.
Fastest compounds in FP3:
Top 10 tyre use:
Renault Sport F1