Vettel on pole as Maldonado rams Hamilton in Spa qualifying

Posted on August 27, 2011

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Sebastian Vettel claimed yet another pole position in a rain influenced qualifying at Spa for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix.

If Maldonado can't explain himself properly, he must be disqualified. Credit: Williams

The defending world champion has faced frankly bizzare questions this weekend after not winning in three races. And he answered them in emphatic style, posting a 1m 48.298s to beat Lewis Hamilton into second place by half a second in the dying moments of Q3.

It was an exciting session, with a drying track through much of it – but sprinkling of rain on and off as well. Hamilton posted a fine effort to take a front row spot from the Red Bull of Mark Webber, who had looked quick.

But it is for incidents surrounding Hamilton this session will be remembered. During Q2 the Briton muscled past the Williams of Pastor Maldonado. It was a tough move but seemed fair enough. But a second incident, as the chequered flag fell in the middle session, saw the Williams man apparently deliberately run into the side of the McLaren.

If Maldonado cannot come up with a persuasive argument this was somehow an accident, he frankly should be disqualified. It’s simply not acceptable and a strong signal should be sent.

In other areas, Jenson Button was left disappointed in the sister McLaren as yet again the Woking team made mistakes in a changeable qualifying. Button starts in 13th with a dry weather set up but he should be further up the field.

Bruno Senna turned in an impressive performance on debut for Renault. He finished in seventh, beating his team mate handily. I still find the decision to dump Heidfeld baffling but full credit to the Brazilian for making the most of his opportunity. I saw little to be impressed with in his HRT year but this was good.

Right down at the back Heikki Kovalainen again got the Team Lotus car into Q2, albeit helped by a bizarre accident which took out Michael Schumacher. If Lotus can keep him, the Finn is a great asset if they can get the car working better.

But it was a sad old story for the final cars. Neither HRT nor the Virgin of Jerome D’Ambrosio made the 107% cut. I imagine they will be allowed to race but they never looked close today. It’s disappointing.

The forecast is for a dry race which will make it a close one. Hamilton will be chomping at the bit and Vettel has no interest in a scrap at this stage of his championship charge. I’m picking the 2008 champion for the win, to be followed home by the two Red Bull cars.

UPDATE: The stewards have handed Maldonado a five place penalty and reprimanded Hamilton. Wrong decision in my eyes but we live and learn.

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