• Belgian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Button storms to Belgian pole

ESPN Staff
September 1, 2012
Jenson Button took pole by 0.3s from Kamui Kobayashi © Sutton Images

Jenson Button took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix by 0.3s in an unpredictable qualifying session at Spa.

Button's pole is his first for McLaren in his 50th race for the team, and he looked imperious from Q2 onwards as he headed the field. Kamui Kobayashi joins him on the front row as Sauber continued its strong showing at Spa, while Pastor Maldonado qualified third only to be hit with a three-place penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg earlier in the session.

As a result Kimi Raikkonen will start from third on the grid ahead of Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso with Maldonado slotting back in sixth. Mark Webber was seventh fastest but will take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change which will drop him behind his team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Vettel failed to make Q3 alongside Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher and will start tenth.

The rest of the top ten was rounded out by Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta, although all three will profit from Webber's penalty. Hamilton struggled for grip in final practice and reverted to an old-spec rear wing, but it proved to be the wrong decision as Button used the new Spa-specific wing to take pole and Hamilton struggled.

Q2 delivered the most surprises, as both Massa and then Schumacher failed to improve enough to get through. With all eyes waiting for Vettel to jump up in to the top ten, he became the third big name to drop out as he could only go 11th; just 0.012s slower than Maldonado in 10th.

Also dropping out in the second session were Nico Hulkenberg in 12th and Jean-Eric Vergne in 15th ahead of his Toro Rosso team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and Bruno Senna, who spun at Pouhon.

Nico Rosberg was the big name to drop out in Q1 as his lack of running in the final practice session hampered him. Having only completed five laps in FP3 Rosberg also has a five-place gearbox penalty and will start from 23rd place ahead of Narain Karthikeyan on the back row. Ahead of him will be the usual suspects of Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Timo Glock, Pedro de la Rosa and Charles Pic.