Belgian GP - Fernando a long shot for victory on the longest track?
Francorchamps, 1 September - Under normal circumstances, setting the sixth fastest time in qualifying would at the very least be cause for concern in the Scuderia Ferrari camp, given how competitive this year’s championship has turned out to be and how strong the rival teams. However, after yesterday’s torrential rain, it’s appropriate to use the expression that every cloud has a silver lining, even if today the sun was shining. Fernando Alonso tried his best as usual and that delivered him the sixth fastest time in Q3 to secure a place on the outside of row 3 for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix. This is not brilliant but it still affords the Spaniard a good view of the run to the first hairpin at La Source. But if he wants to see his closest rivals in the championship classification, Fernando will have to use his mirrors, because second in the points table Mark Webber was seventh fastest and will start from twelfth on the grid after taking a penalty for a gearbox change. Third in the classification is the other Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel who never made it to Q3 and was eleventh fastest. In the second McLaren, Lewis Hamilton is eighth. Only Kimi Raikkonen, fifth in the classification is ahead of him in fourth. The Spaniard says only a podium is possible tomorrow, but his record disproves that theory as two of his three wins this year have come from starting eighth and eleventh on the grid.
With Fernando on row 3 and his team-mate Felipe Massa struggling with the balance on his car down in 14th spot, Scuderia Ferrari’s performance today seems to confirm the Spaniard’s view that the F2012 is the least competitive of the front runners. However, the lack of running on Friday makes it harder than usual to get a clear picture, especially as the team had to evaluate new updates on the car as well as go through the usual pre-race work. The grid is far from conventional and that too might play into the Ferrari duo’s hands tomorrow. It might be Jenson Button’s first pole of the season, but it is the Englishman’s career eighth, therefore not too surprising. However, the same cannot be said for some of the other front runners. How does Kamui Kobayashi on the front row sound? It was the Japanese driver’s best ever qualifying performance and the same goes for his Sauber team too. Completing the unusual trio for the qualifying “podium” was the Williams of Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonaldo.
Tomorrow we can look forward to 44 laps of one of the greatest racing circuits in the world, but predicting the outcome, even if the forecast is for another sunny day, is just too difficult to attempt.