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Vettel takes Spa pole as Maldonado loses the plot

NEWS STORY
27/08/2011

To varying degrees, all three practice sessions this weekend have been hit by the weather. Nonetheless, based on what we've seen so far, it looks as the form book is the same as it was before the summer break, with Red Bull and McLaren leading Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso didn't post a time this morning, but it is believed that Ferrari, like several other teams, including McLaren, is aiming to save tyres should the bad weather continue.

While Mark Webber was quickest this morning, just as he was in yesterday's second session, we could be in for a few surprises this afternoon. Other than the possibility of a car other than a Red Bull taking pole for the first time this season, there is widespread speculation as to whether some of the big guns will fall at the first hurdle this afternoon.

Though it has stopped raining since the end of free practice the track remains damp and twenty-five minutes before the start of Q1 Ferrari is claiming that further rain will hit the track round about the time the lights go green.

Five minutes before the session gets underway, the air temperature is 18 degrees C, while the track temperature is 20 degrees. It remains exceedingly cool and while there have been a few spots of rain there has been nothing serious… yet. With an eyes on the skies however, it is likely that everyone will be keen to get to work as soon as possible in order to get that all important banker lap in.

As a traffic jam forms at the end of the pitlane, Ferrari claims that when the rain hits it will be at Les Combes and Stavelot.

The lights go green and as Alguersuari is told to push because of the incoming rain, Schumacher hits the barriers on the straight leading to Pouhon his right-rear wheel missing. Not the ideal way to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his F1 debut. A curious accident which appeared to be the result of a technical failure, indeed his wheel coming off was the cause of the accident. The big question being, why did his wheel fall off?

Buemi posts the first time of the afternoon, the Swiss crossing the line at 2:11.806. Button goes second ahead of Alguersuari and d'Ambrosio.

A 2:09.506 sees Hamilton take the top spot as Alonso goes second and Vettel eleventh.

While parts of the track are bathed in sunshine and drying, others are very, very wet.

Senna posts 2:10.625 to go fourth, ahead of Maldonado, however, moments later it's business as usual as Webber goes quickest (2:06.872) and Vettel second. The Force Indias go third and fourth, both drivers having looked impressive this weekend.

No sooner has Button been told that it will be dry for the remainder of the session, Massa is told that rain is five minutes away.

Button splits the Red Bulls with a 2:07.195 as Alonso goes fifth ahead of Senna. Both Williams in the danger zone along with the Virgins and HRTs.

Webber ups the ante with a 2:04.481 only to be eclipsed by Hamilton's 2:04.240 moments later. Barrichello improves to fourteenth and Maldonado sixteenth.

Button goes quickest in S1 as the camera shows some very menacing clouds moving in. The Englishman goes quickest with a 2:03.882 however, his teammate bangs in a 2:03.008 to re-take the top spot. Alonso goes third (2:04.450), ahead of Webber, Vettel and Massa.

Next time around Button posts 2:01.813 as Petrov improves to seventh, just behind his new Renault teammate. Drivers running on to the wet patches in an attempt to cool their inters.

The Williams duo improve to ninth (Maldonado) and tenth, as Massa drops to twelfth and di Resta seventeenth. Elsewhere, Rosberg overshoots Les Combes as a Virgin fails to notice him in its mirrors.

A spin in the final chicane sees di Resta fail to improve, however, the Scot has one more lap, as does Kovalainen who would desperately love to make it to Q2. A superb middle sector sees the Lotus driver post a 2:06.780 which is enough to take sixteenth. Di Resta drops to eighteenth and thereby falls at the first hurdle.

Quickest was Button, ahead of Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Buemi, Senna, Rosberg, Petrov and Alguersuari.

We lose di Resta, Trulli, Glock, d'Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Ricciardo and, of course, Schumacher.

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