Belgian Grand Prix: Qualifying Recap

 

 

Event:  Qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix (Round 13 of 21)

Date:  Saturday, Aug. 27

Location:  Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

Layout:  7.004-kilometer (4.352-mile), 19-turn circuit

Weather:  Partly sunny, 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit)

Lap Record:  1:44.503 set by Jarno Trulli in 2009 with Toyota (during Q2)

Pole Winner:  Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:46.744)

Result:

Romain Grosjean qualified 11th, will start on outside of Row 6

Esteban Gutierrez qualified 13th, but will start 18th on inside of Row 9 due to five-place grid penalty

 

  • Lasts 18 minutes, with all 22 drivers participating
  • Fastest 16 drivers advance to Q2

Gutiérrez:  12th quick (1:48.748), advanced to Q2

Grosjean:  13th quick (1:48.751), advanced to Q2

Fastest Driver:  Felipe Massa of Williams (1:47.738)

Cutoff:  16th-quick Jolyon Palmer of Renault (1:48.901)

  • Lasts 15 minutes, featuring the 16 fastest drivers from Q1
  • Fastest 10 drivers advance to Q3

Grosjean:  11th quick (1:48.316)

Gutiérrez:  13th quick (1:48.598)

Fastest Driver:  Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:46.999)

Cutoff:  10th-quick Jenson Button of McLaren (1:48.051)

 

  • Lasts 12 minutes, featuring the 10 fastest drivers from Q2, all battling for the pole

Pole Winner:  Nico Rosberg of Mercedes (1:46.744)

Second:  Max Verstappen of Red Bull (1:46.893)

 

 

The late-summer heat that was present on Friday during the two practice sessions for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps continued into Saturday for final practice and qualifying. While the weather was uncharacteristically warm, it was incredibly consistent, allowing teams to further develop their strategies and car setup.

 

After Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez ended Friday’s FP2 session among the top-10, with Grosjean posting the eighth-fastest time and Gutiérrez earning the 10th-quickest time, the duo turned their sights to FP3 on Saturday, where they worked on calibrating their cars for a run to the final round of knockout qualifying (Q3).

 

In the seven grands prix leading into Belgium, Grosjean and Gutiérrez advanced to Q2. They’ve knocked on the door of Q3, with four 11th-place qualifying efforts split evenly between them, but haven’t been able to end Q2 within the top-10 to advance to the exclusive Q3 ranks. Both were eyeing Spa as the venue where the door to Q3 would finally open.

 

The speed Haas F1 Team displayed on Friday continued on Saturday in FP3, with Grosjean’s best lap of 1:49.272 good for 10th quick and Gutiérrez’s fast time of 1:49.631 slotting him 12th overall. Both drivers used the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires exclusively and ran identical programs – three stints tallying 16 laps apiece. Even the lap on which they set their fastest time was identical (lap 14). Gutiérrez, however, had an on-track incident with the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein in Raidillon 11 minutes into the session. The FIA stewards deemed Gutiérrez guilty of impeding Wehrlein and assessed a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

 

Fastest in FP3 was Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was the only driver to break into the 1-minute, 47-second bracket. His time of 1:47.974 was .215 of a second better than the next best driver, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, and .111 of a second better than the fastest time from Friday, a 1:48.085 secured in FP2 by Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.

 

Lap times continued to drop in qualifying as the 7.004-kilometer (4.352-mile), 19-turn circuit continued to heat up. It was 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) when the first car rolled off pit lane.

 

For the eighth consecutive race weekend, both Haas F1 Team drivers advanced to Q2. Gutiérrez knocked down a lap of 1:48.748, good for 12th quick in Q1, and Grosjean’s lap stopped the clock at 1:48.751 to place him 13th. The top-16 drivers advanced to Q2.

 

With a focus on making it to the final qualifying round, Grosjean and Gutiérrez attacked Q2. But in the ever-competitive midfield, Q3 remained just out of reach, again, with Grosjean qualifying 11th and Gutiérrez qualifying 13th. Grosjean’s 1:48.316 was .265 of a second shy of 10th-place Jenson Button, as the McLaren driver held down the cutoff spot. Gutiérrez’s 1:48.598 was .547 of a second arrears Button. Both Haas F1 Team drivers utilized Red supersofts throughout qualifying.

 

Despite qualifying 13th, Gutiérrez will start the race 18th due to the five-place grid penalty.

 

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg scored the pole for the Belgium Grand Prix. It was his 28th career Formula One pole, his sixth of the season and his second in a row, as Rosberg earned the pole for the German Grand Prix three weeks ago prior to the summer break. It was also Rosberg’s second Formula One pole at Spa, with his first coming in 2014. Rosberg made use of the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires in Q1 and Q2 before switching to Red supersofts for his pole-winning drive, which was .149 of a second faster than the next best time, earned by Verstappen.

 

 

“The car was fine in qualifying. We made a good step before the summer break, so I’m more happy with the car. There are still a few things we can improve but, generally, it’s not a bad place to be after qualifying. For the race, I don’t think we’ll be as challenged as some of the other teams. Hopefully, we can have a good, aggressive strategy and try to make it work to get some points.”

 

 

“It was a really good effort from the team. We’ve been struggling with the car setup, but managed to find the best balance. In qualifying, it felt like a step forward considering the high track temperatures, which is making things a little complicated with the tires. In FP3 there was a miscommunication that cost us a five-place grid penalty, which is obviously very painful, but we will try to put that aside. I’ll start the race and give everything I’ve got to recover the lost positions and I’ll be fighting all the way to get into the top-10.”

“We had a good FP3 session, except for a communication issue with Esteban as he wasn’t made aware that Wehrlein was coming. He received a five-place grid penalty which is very unfair as there was no intention on his side. Overall in qualifying, we did the best we could. We finished 11th and 13th. Eleventh for the fifth time this year. I think we are getting very consistent. The team works very well together, so the day will come when we get into Q3.”