Rosberg takes pole at Spa

23/08/2014
NEWS STORY

Following two dry, but cool, sessions yesterday, this morning the notoriously fickly Spa weather came into play once again, meaning that there was little serious running until the final phase of the hour. Even then, the session appeared to raise more questions than it answered.

Despite James Allison effectively writing off Kimi Raikkonen's season yesterday, this morning the Finn was looking good, whilst Williams, certainly in the shape of Valtteri Bottas, finally began to show its hand.

A late charge saw Daniel Ricciardo take third, whilst Nico Rosberg was the quicker of the two Mercedes driver, though Lewis Hamilton's last lap appeared to suggest the Briton has something in reserve.

With the rain beginning to fall heavily, around forty minutes before the start of the session, this afternoon is clearly going to be in the lap of the gods with surprise fallers at the first hurdle and possibly a big surprise in terms of the pole-sitter.

Fifteen minutes before the start of the session - as Charlie Whiting inspects the track from the comfort of the Safety Car - the rain has stopped and the sun is shining. While it is not expected that there will be any further downpours there could be a light shower or two. The track remains very, very damp.

The air temperature has dropped to a chilly 9 degrees C, while the track temperature is 21 degrees.

A full minute before the session is due to start, both Marussias are at the end of the pitlane, eager to get to work.

As Chilton and Bianchi head out they are joined by Vergne, Kvyat and the Caterhams. Bottas and Sutil are amongst those out early, both on full wets while the rest opt for options.

As Bianchi begins his first flying lap, all but Hulkenberg are on track. Perez is warned that, contrary to earlier reports, there could be further rain before the end of Q1.

As Bottas goes quickest in S1, Kvyat runs wide at Pouhon. Hulkenberg now on track.

Bianchi posts 2:16.474 and teammate Chilton 2:16.550, even Kvyat can only manage 2:14.966.

A 2:10.750 sees Bottas go quickest as teammate Massa gets it all wrong at Les Combes.

Ricciardo posts a 2:10.642 as Kvyat is asked whether he's happy on Inters, advised that some drivers are quicker on full wets.

Hamilton and Raikkonen both make mistakes at the chicane however, the Briton goes quickest with a 2:09.492.

Told that he has gone quickest, Hamilton asks his team, "please don't talk to me when I'm on my lap".

Alonso goes fourth, ahead of Magnussen and Hulkenberg, only to be demoted when Rosberg posts 2:07.792 to go second.

Hamilton improves with a 2:07.587 as Grosjean loses time behind Lotterer in Blanchimont.

Gutierrez slows and stops at T15 (Paul Frere), the Sauber subsequently pushed to safety.

With 6:46 remaining, Raikkonen and Grosjean are in the drop zone.

Vettel goes third with a 2:10.105 as Raikkonen leaves the pits on a set of Inters. Indeed, everyone is one Inters now.

Bottas goes quickest in S1 as Raikkonen improves to fifth with a 2:10.631. Maldonado off at T4 and Magnussen at T18, both able to continue.

Bottas improves to third with a 2:09.433 while Kvyat goes eighth despite a nightmare of a lap.

Hamilton raises the bar with a 2:07.280 as Maldonado and Perez remain in the drop zone.

Bianchi goes tenth with a 2:11.051 as Maldonado is told that there will be rain in turns 14 and 15. The Venezuelan promptly spins.

Sutil improves thereby dropping Chilton back into the drop zone.

Vergne goes fifth as Massa improves to third with a 2:08.403.

As more drivers improve Bianchi drops to fourteenth, will he survive to Q2?

Rosberg posts 2:07.130 to go quickest as Maldonado manages to improve to sixteenth.

A late charge from Sutil is bad news for Maldonado, the Venezuelan falling at the first hurdle, as does Hulkenberg.

Quickest is Rosberg, ahead of Hamilton, Massa, Bottas, Vergne, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Alonso and Kvyat.

We lose Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Chilton, Gutierrez, Lotterer and Ericsson.

No sooner has Q1 ended than the rain begins falling again, though nothing like earlier.

The lights go green for Q2 and Grosjean leads the way, followed by Bottas, Vettel, Alonso and Button. Indeed, with conditions looking to get worse pretty soon all but Vergne are on track. All are on Inters.

Having been quickest in S1, Grosjean loses time when he runs wide at Lew Combes. Bottas also on a hot lap. Perez is told that his current lap could be his best of the session.

Grosjean posts 2:13.974 with Sutil posting 2:11.763 moment later.

No sooner has Button (2:09.907) gone quickest than Bottas and Alonso (2:08.470) have gone quicker.

As Grosjean spins at La Source, Vettel posts 2:09.486 to go third.

Despite a mistake at Rivage, Rosberg goes quickest with a 2:08.108. Hamilton, currently on 2:13.048, goes quickest in S1, then again in s2. At the line the Briton stops the clock at 2:07.089.

A big wobble for Hamilton coming out of Eau rouge as Vergne finally comes out to play.

Once again, Rosberg gets it all wrong at Rivage, as Button tells his team he wants a dry pair of gloves.

Rosberg posts 2:07.494 to remain second, but still a full second ahead of (third placed Alonso.

Kvyat, Perez, Sutil, Grosjean, Bianchi and Vergne still in the drop zone.

Despite a big moment in the final chicane, Vergne posts 2:10.933 to go twelfth.

As Kvyat improves to eighth with a 2:09.377, Hamilton and Rosberg both look set to go even quicker.

Hamilton posts 2:06.609 whilst his teammate responds with a 2:06.723 having lost time in S3.

Button slips into the drop zone as Grosjean can only manage thirteenth. Strong first and final sectors sees the Briton improve to ninth.

A late charge sees Vettel go seventh (2:08.868) thereby dropping Kvyat into the drop zone.

Quickest is Hamilton, ahead of Rosberg, Alonso, Bottas, Raikkonen, Massa, Vettel, Magnussen, Ricciardo and Button.

We lose Kvyat, Vergne, Perez, Sutil, Grosjean and Bianchi.

The rain has ceased but it remains damp, consequently no surprise as Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso and Vettel head out on fresh Inters.

Hamilton gets it all wrong at La Source, thereby losing precious time as he begins his first flying lap. No such mistakes from his teammate, who is running behind, and goes quickest in S1.

The German is quickest again in S2, though Hamilton appears to have backed off.

Rosberg posts 2:05.698 and Hamilton 2:11.947, whilst Vettel goes second (2:08.141) and Alonso (2:08.307) third.

As Bottas goes fourth (2:09.467) the sun is shining, typical of the freak weather that is forever Spa.

Next time around Hamilton improves to 2:06.395, to go second, still over 0.6s off his teammate's pace. Raikkonen posts 2:09.246 to go fifth.

Hamilton is advised that he's losing time in T1 and T10.

As they begin their ultimate laps Alonso almost trips up over former teammate Massa at Les Combes.

Vettel, the only driver to improve in S1, maintains his pace in S2. At the line the German posts 2:07.769 to remain third, the world champion giving 100%.

Having failed to improve as he begins his final lap Hamilton again struggles in La Source. Nonetheless he goes quickest in the first sector. Moments later, Rosberg goes even quicker.

Hamilton appears to be pushing just a little too hard, as Ricciardo runs wide in Blanchimont.

Hamilton improves to 2:05.819 but remains second as Rosberg takes pole with a 2:05.591.

Rosberg therefore starts from pole - for the fourth successive race - ahead of Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Ricciardo, Bottas, Magnussen, Raikkonen, Massa and Button.

Kvyat will start eleventh, ahead of Vergne, Perez, Sutil, Grosjean, Bianchi, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Chilton, Gutierrez, Lotterer and Ericsson.

It's the same old, same old as Mercedes take the front row, both cars almost a full two seconds ahead of their nearest opposition.

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Published: 23/08/2014
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