Formula 1 is back. Much rejoicing in Power Towers. We arrived back from the West of Ireland at midnight last night (or is that technically this morning?). Now that’s impeccable timing. And now for something unusual (!), a big shout out to the husband who drove around 700km in one day yesterday. Next year I might enter him for the Le Mans 24 hour race!
So home just in time for the best race of the entire F1 season. Okay maybe not necessarily always the best race of the season (although it often is!) but it is indisputably the greatest track in F1. The evocative names of Eau Rouge, La Source, Blanchimont, Malmedy and Stavelot just literally send shivers down my spine. The day Spa gets dropped from the F1 calendar is the day that F1 dies.
I also remembered at some stage in the 15 hour journey back home that I never managed to do part 2 of my mid-term review. Blame it on holidays, small children and having to YouTube endless clips of Mr Bean and Usain Bolt (pretty much his two heroes – go figure) – all of which meant my blogging opportunities were next to zero. I’d even painstakingly worked out grades for the remaining 12 drivers which will probably make me a laughing stock when Bottas (who got a C minus) wins the Belgian GP!
So what occurred at qualifying for the Belgian GP?
Q1 – The main talking point was the truly awful weather that had arrived just in time for qualifying. Oh we like very, very much. All of Europe has had the best summer in years but you can rely on biblical rain to dump out of the sky in good old Spa-Francorchamps. Cue lots and lots of camera shots of weather monitors of doom.
One of the reasons why F1 fans love rain and crazy weather conditions is that it mixes everything up nicely and makes the performance differential of the various cars less apparent. And whatd’ya know…Giedo van der Garde finished Q1 in 3rd, Jules Bianchi in 11th and Max Chilton in 16th. Yes that would be two Marussias (yes really!) and a Caterham into Q2.
So out of Q2 were: 17) Pastor Maldonado, 18) Jean-Eric Vergne, 19) Daniel Ricciardo (not a qualifying performance inclined to make Christian Horner pick up the phone to Daniel’s people) 20) Valtteri Bottas, 21) Esteban Gutierrez and 22) Charles Pic.
And so to Q2 – Ferrari were looking quick. Red Bull were looking quick and Mercedes were looking quick. And to throw another hat (helmet?) into the mix the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen topped the session with the fastest time.
With seconds remaining, Massa climbed up to 6th from the dropzone and and just as I dismissed his chances of escaping, Button rocketed up to 5th. Hamilton looking oddly lacklustre literally just made the cut by a few thousandths of a second. But crucially (and no spoilers intended…er much), he was still in the mix.
Ending up in the Dreaded Dropzone were: 11) Nico Hulkenberg, 12) Adrian Sutil, 13) Sergio Perez, 14) Giedo Van Der Garde, 15) Jules Bianchi and 16) Max Chilton.
And now folks it was Showdown Time and heavy rain was falling again. Nine different polesitters in the last nine races. And this is why we love Spa.
Di Resta was the only driver to come out inters while all the rest trundled out on slicks. Well could this be one of the best gambles in the history of gambles by Force India. Possibly. And the rain starting tippling down. Cue all the other drivers rushing back into the pits to whack on some inters with Rosberg telling his team they needed to get back out there as soon as possible.
And Di Resta was the first to set a time at 2:02:332. This was surely the benchmark time as the rain fell more heavily. But brilliantly it wasn’t raining that hard on all the circuit just on some of it. This is why we love Spa (part 254). As we followed Massa around in torrential rain, Brundle announced that Di Resta looked to have pole position sewn up. Rosberg grabbed second and elicited a ‘wow’ from Brundle mainly because in the same period the likes of Alonso were setting times ten seconds slower.
So with SECONDS to go, the top three in the championship were going to line up on the grid in 8th, 9th and 10th. This meant that somehow Jenson Button in his tractor of a McLaren had out-qualified Vettel, Kimi and Alonso. Or had he? Nooooooo the rain was easing off and now the track was drying. Gotta love that Ardennes weather!
Rosberg sensationally grabbed provisional pole but ominously the Red Bulls were still out on track in the drying conditions. Webber went fastest, Vettel went fastest and AT THE DEATH none other than Lewis Hamilton seized pole position. What an absolutely tremendous qualifying performance from Lewis which surely has to rank right up there with his most treasured poles. This is his 4th pole position in a row. Last British driver to get 4 poles in a row? Answers in a tweet please! Lewis promised earlier in the week to hunt his rivals down one by one. Well this is a good start.
So this is what the top ten for tomorrow’s race looks like:
- Di Resta
I can’t actually put it any better than Martin Brundle who tweeted: Fascinating grid for tomorrow’s F1 race. Plenty out of position compared with their true pace, both faster and slower. Don’t miss it #SkyF1
I might be flying solo with two kids tomorrow (as the husband watches no cricket in the rain at the Oval) but nothing on earth will keep me from watching this potentially epic race with the Twitterverse for company. Coffee, valium, heck even alcohol are at the ready. Cannot freaking wait!