Today's was the sort of action-packed wet-to-dry qualifying session that Spa seems to have provided who knows how many times before. But even among these, or among qualifying sessions seen anywhere anytime, it is hard genuinely to cite one as dramatic, as nerve-shredding, with as many twists.
|Lewis Hamilton eventually left them trailing|
Photo: Octane Photography
Only Harold Pinter it seems does dramatic timing as well as Spa's micro-climate. Having stayed away all day, though never seeming far away, rain arrived minutes before the red light went out for the qualifying session's start. This gave us one of those sessions in Q1 that we know so well, wherein the track gradually dried, and drivers could be at the top of the times only to be in the drop zone before anyone knew it. In the end, the big names survived, but there were still upsets. The unlikely figure of Giedo van der Garde, as well as the two Marussia pilots, were those with the chutzpah to try slick tyres near the end, and all were rewarded with rare progress from Q1. The reward was particularly great in van der Garde's case as he ended up placed P3 in the first session, which furthermore set him up for a fine P14 on the starting grid. That will no doubt please the Dutch hordes who are in attendance at Spa to follow him. And it all meant that the two Toro Rossos and the two Williams, along with Chrlaes Pic and Esteban Guiterrez, left the stage early.
|Giedo van der Garde was audacious|
Photo: Octane Photogrpahy
|Paul di Resta looked an unlikely pole-winner|
Credit: Octane Photography
Lewis exclaimed on his slowing down lap 'I can't believe it!', and he wasn't the only one. And he was as delighted as he was surprised: 'I can't remember the last time I crossed the line and had such a good feeling.' he said afterwards. He also raised some laughs by noting that he thought that his pole lap was no good, and assumed that he was only catching Vettel as he was on a slowing down lap. All things are relative I guess.
Lewis also doubted that he would have had the pace to contend for his latest pole without the weather's intervention: 'My guess would be maybe not. The Red Bull was looking particularly quick and also the Ferrari was looking quite quick in the dry conditions, so I'm not necessarily sure that we had the pace to be as fast as everyone today.'
|Sebastian Vettel was pleased with second|
Photo: Octane Photography
Sebastian Vettel was pretty pleased afterwards with his second position on the grid, particularly with his two closest challengers in the table much further back, Raikkonen will start eighth and Alonso ninth. Both looked quick in the dry - indeed Alonso was very happy with the effect of Ferrari's latest upgrades - but both also were in the earlier, slower, group at the end of Q3, and managed to emerge at the bottom even of that pile. Still, their progress tomorrow will be fascinating, although back there they'll have to be more wary than usual of Spa's habitual risks of rain, La Source, and the like.
If the rain stays away then Seb looks very well-placed. And he doesn't often look too shabby in the wet either.
But the consensus is that more rain will hit the race tomorrow, so no one is betting the farm on there not being more twists yet before the prizes are handed out. It wouldn't be any other way at Spa.