Belgian GP qualifying as it happened

Text commentary and highlights of qualifying for the Belgian GP, where Jenson Button will start on pole position.

1 September 2012 Last updated at 14:56

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As it happened

  1. 1445: 

    After the misery of Friday practice, Saturday's qualifying more than made up for it with some stunning performances from lesser known names. Can the likes of Kamui Kobayashi and Pastor Maldonado repeat the trick tomorrow? Join me from 11:30 BST to find out. Until then, I bid you farewell. See ya.

  2. 1443: 

    The grid will also look slightly different tomorrow because Mark Webber (7th) and Nico Rosberg (18th) will drop five places as the result of a penalty for a gearbox change. We'll have the new grid line-up for you in tomorrow's live text commentary.

  3. 1441: 

    It's almost time for me to depart, but before I do let me point you in the direction of Andrew Benson's qualifying report and remind you that Pastor Maldonado is still under investigation for potentially blocking Nico Hulkenberg. Keep across for the latest on that.

  4. 1437: 

    Interesting tweet from an unhappy Lewis Hamilton regarding the new wing/old wing scenario. "Jenson has the new rear wing on, I have the old," he said. "We voted to change, didn't work out. I lose 0.4 tenths just on the straight."


    Will Crampin on Twitter: "It's going to be fun tomorrow with Maldonado and Kobayashi going wheel-to-wheel up the hill to Eau Rouge! I have a feeling at least one of them won't finish first lap."

  6. 1432: 

    I still can't get over that lap from Kamui Kobayashi, the first Japanese driver to sit on the front row since Takuma Sato started second in the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in 2004. The Sauber driver was just three tenths off Jenson Button's pole position time. Incredible.


    Force India's Paul di Resta, who will start 10th: "I think we would have taken that coming into the weekend, this morning I was quite surprised where we were running in the top 10. We've put ourselves in the position to fight for points in the race tomorrow. It's very clear where our car struggles on this track, we're about a sector off in the middle sector, we're struggling for balance. That's all we've got."

  8. 1427: 

    And here's the third Brit on the grid Paul di Resta who made it into the top 10...


    McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who will start eighth: "It has not been a great qualifying session for me. We opted to use an old wing this weekend. After P3, the new one wasn't feeling so great. We went to the old wing and it was an awful lot slower. I'll just have to do the best I can. Well done to Jenson, It was a great start for the second part of the season for him. I will try and do as best I can to back Jenson up tomorrow."

  10. 1424: 

    And now it's time to hear from those who didn't do so well, starting with a certainly Lewis Hamilton who is less than happy to be eighth while his McLaren team-mate sits on pole....


    Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, who starts third: "We've been working so hard even in the break to try to understand all the problems we had and to solve them for the second half of the season. We understood where to work with the car. This has meant we are competitive."


    Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, who starts second: "It was a great qualifying for me. Yesterday in practice, we really did struggle a lot but this morning, we improved. We had good confidence in (our chances at) Spa. We expected a good weekend, but not to be second in qualifying. We expected a strong result, so we have a good chance in the race."


    McLaren's Jenson Button, who starts on pole: "It's been quite a long time since my last pole position back in 2009. It's been pretty emotional. Sundays have been good over the last few years but not so much Saturdays. It's been good to come back after such a long break and to do well on the Saturday."

  14. 1416: 

    The top three drivers have made their way into the top three press conference. Here's what they had to say...


    Red Bull's Mark Webber, who qualified seventh but will start 12th after a gearbox penalty: "I think we'd have liked to have been further up the grid, we weren't fast enough to challenge for the front row. I'd have liked to have been further up to take the sting out of the penalty. In general I think I got enough out of what we have, which at the moment is not enough."

  16. 1411: 

    McLaren's Jenson Button punches the air after the obligatory post-qualifying photo for the top three. There's still a long way to go for the 2009 world champion in the race on Sunday, but it's still a massive turnaround for the Brit who has struggled in qualifying this season.


    Nick Bennetts on Twitter: "Well that qualy was very odd. Should be a good race tomorrow."

    Allan Speed on Twitter: "Congrats to @JensonButton for first McLaren Mercedes pole position. Awesome driving. Lets carry that form onto race day."

    Phillippa Gillett on Twitter: "Can't wait to see to see the start & the first corner tomorrow with this very mixed grid. Should be an interesting start."


    McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh: "Jenson did a great lap. He struggled a bit this mroning, but drove with such assurance during qualifying. It's super for him. It's been difficult here for everyone, not running yesterday, but Jenson has kept calm and done a fantastic job. I think he's in very good shape for tomorrow."

  19. 1407: 

    Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth, Sergio Perez fifth and Fernando Alonso sixth. Mark Webber was seventh, which will become 12th after his grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton eighth and Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta completing the top 10.

  20. 1406: 

    And as if that wasn't shocking enough, Pastor Maldonado has found himself in third place. His best performance of the season since that pole in the Spanish Grand Prix. What is going on? One man who will be under pressure from that result is the Venezuelan's team-mate Bruno Senna who is down in 17th.

  21. 1405: 

    A truly remarkable qualifying session there with Kamui Kobayashi taking second, the first front row start of his career. Smiles all round on the Sauber pit wall and in the garage. Stunning result for the Swiss team and a great job by the Japanese driver who has been outshone by team-mate Sergio Perez this season.

  22. 1403: 

    "Wohooo," is Jenson Button's response to being told he is on pole position by his team. That's first pole position for McLaren and first since the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix.

  23. 1403: 


  24. 1402: 

    Jenson Button goes even quicker! This is incredible. No one is going to beat this man. What a brilliant performance from the 2009 world champion.

  25. 1401: 

    Kamui Kobayashi has just nailed a stunner to go second overall, one place ahead of Pastor Maldonado. Remarkable scenes.


    Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who will start 11th: "I was pretty happy with the lap, but we weren't quick enough. There was only a little amount missing, but that's racing. I think overtaking is OK here, so we will see tomorrow."

  27. 1358: 

    We've only got two laps on the board at the moment - one from Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen. Everyone is out on track now, though, so prepare yourself for a fast and frantic final couple of minutes.

  28. 1356: 

    Jenson Button has not achieved a pole position since his championship winning year with BrawnGP in 2009 at the Monaco Grand Prix, so has never had a pole for McLaren. The Briton has not qualified higher than fifth at Spa. Is that all about to change?

  29. 1355: 

    Kimi Raikkonen sets the benchmark - 1:48.205 - but that gets slaughtered by Jenson Button who has chosen the low downforce setting on his car compared to the high downforce one of team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Button clocks 1:47.6868 which is only fractionally slower than that mighty lap in the second part of qualifying.

  30. 1353: 

    Jenson Button, Lewis Hamiton, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado have joined Kimi Raikkonen out on track, but Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, and the Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez have decided to wait and probably only do one run.


    Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, who will start 13th: "Doing my lap I was pretty excited. I pulled more than half a second out of it, but that wasn't enough. Looking around and seeing Seb [Vettel] in 11th, it shows it is a close business."

  32. 1351: 

    Paul di Resta beats Kimi Raikkonen out of the pit lane but the Finn isn't having any of that. The Lotus driver gets in the Force India's slipstream up Eau Rouge and then passes him on the long straight before Les Combes.

  33. 1350: 

    This is it. Ten drivers, 10 minutes and one pole position.

  34. 1348: 

    Jenson Button finished quickest ahead of Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Kamui Kobayashi, Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean, Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado.

    BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan

    "Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, who most people believe will be a contender for the title this year, has started the second half of this season very poorly."

  36. 1347: 

    11) Sebastian Vettel 12) Nico Hulkenberg 13) Michael Schumacher 14) Felipe Massa 15) Jean-Eric Vergne 16) Daniel Ricciardo 17) Bruno Senna

  37. 1346: 

    Michael Schumacher couldn't quite manage a good enough lap time either, qualifying 13th overall. "Sorry guys but there wasn't much more in it," said the German over team radio.

  38. 1345: 


  39. 1344: 

    No he can't! Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is out of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

  40. 1342: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne is all done for the day. He can only manage 11th and sees the chequered flag as he crosses the line. Pastor Maldonado clocks a decent lap to put him ninth, knocking Sebastian Vettel out of the top 10. Can the reigning world champion respond?

  41. 1341: 

    BBC Radio 5 live's Jennie Gow spoke to Nico Rosberg after his early exit in Q1. He'll start on the back row of the grid after taking a five-place penalty for changing his gearbox. "It's been a difficult weekend with the gearbox," he said. "We've been finding a way with set-up and managed to improve along the way. But I wasn't feeling ideal and it's not a great starting position for tomorrow."

  42. 1340: 

    Everyone apart from Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen is now out on track for one last crack. Sebastian Vettel is on the bubble in 10th.

  43. 1338: 

    Lotus tell Kimi Raikkonen that the team aren't going to run again. Well that's confidence for you. The Finn is second overall so looking pretty safe for Q3 anyway and will be able to save a set of tyres.

  44. 1337: 

    Michael Schumacher, Paul di Resta, Felipe Massa, Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciarod, Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna are currently in the drop-zone. Can this lot improve on their final runs with four minutes to go?

  45. 1335: 

    Wow, a 1:47.654 from McLaren's Jenson Button. Where did that come from? Absolutely stunning stuff from the 2009 world champion. I hope the horse hasn't bolted too early and that he's kept something in reserve for when it counts - Q3.

  46. 1333: 

    Fernando Alonso goes quickest, 0.07 seconds quicker than Mark Webber but he is soon displaced by Lewis Hamilton and then Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn was on it in the middle sector and goes 0.15 seconds clear at the top of the charts.

  47. 1332: 

    Good news McLaren fans - Jenson Button is out on track. He's got to beat a 1:48.662 which was set by Red Bull's Mark Webber. The likes of Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are currently on laps...

  48. 1331: 

    Sergio Perez clocks 1:48.880, which is around eight tenths quicker than he managed in Q1. Kamui Kobayashi goes second, with Paul di Resta third and Jean-Eric Vergne fourth.

  49. 1329: 

    Sergio Perez is the first man out and about in the Sauber but over in the McLaren garage, mechanics are frantically working away on Jenson Button's rear wing. The Briton can only sit in the car and wait...

  50. 1328: 

    We're under way for the second part of qualifying, a 15-minute session where another seven drivers will bite the dust.

  51. 1327: 

    A stronger showing from McLaren in that session with Jenson Button second and Lewis Hamilton eighth. A good performance from Pedro de la Rosa in the HRT who managed to split the Marussias of Timo Glock and Charles Pic.

  52. 1325: 

    Lotus can breathe a sigh of relief as Romain Grosjean sneaks into Q2 after finishing 17th fastest in Q1, one place above the drop-zone. If Mercedes hadn't messed Rosberg's strategy up, Grosjean could have been knocked out, especially as the Frenchman was heavily baulked by an HRT on his last flying lap to prevent him from improving.

  53. 1323: 

    18) Nico Rosberg 19) Heikki Kovalainen 20) Vitaly Petrov 21) Timo Glock 22) Pedro de la Rosa 23) Charles Pic 24) Narain Karthikeyan

  54. 1322: 



    James Weir on Twitter: "Spa looking as majestic as ever."

  56. 1321: 

    Massive error from Mercedes and Nico Rosberg as the German doesn't cross the line before the chequered flag so he's not allowed to start final flying lap. That's terrible news because moments earlier, Daniel Ricciardo went sixth quickest in the Toro Rosso which dropped Rosberg into 18th and out of qualifying.

  57. 1320: 

    Michael Schumacher has lifted himself out of the drop-zone and up into 10th place, but his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg is on the bubble in 17th. Daniel Ricciardo is down in 18th along with the usual suspects - Caterham, Marussia and HRT.

  58. 1318: 

    Pastor Maldonado bolts on the softer tyre - which is the medium compound this weekend - and goes quickest of all with a 1:48.9 in the Williams. Both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have both gone out on the softer tyre, too.

  59. 1316: 

    Typical, just as I type that, Jenson Button goes quickest of all with a 1:49.250. He leads Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez. Mercedes are in all sorts of bother, meanwhile. Michael Schumacher is 18th and in the drop-zone, while Nico Rosberg is only marginally quicker in 17th.

  60. 1314: 

    Jenson Button is having a torrid time of it out there and it looks like his McLaren team have failed to get on top of the problems Button complained of in final practice. "I've got quite a lot of understeer in the car," he told his team. "More than this morning."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "The McLaren drivers have gone for different set-ups. Jenson Button has gone for a low-downforce set-up while Lewis Hamilton has higher downforce. So Button is going for speed on the straights in sectors one and two and Hamilton for pace in the middle sector. Alonso in the Ferrari has a low-downforce set-up on his car."

  62. 1313: 

    Fernando Alonso goes quickest of all with a 1m49.401. That should be enough to see him into Q2. Lewis Hamilton looks pretty quick, too, but a mistake in the second sector, where he lost half a second to Alonso, means he can only go second quickest. More to come from the 2008 world champion, though.

  63. 1311: 

    Michael Schumacher is struggling to find clear air and is down in 15th, three places above the drop-zone. Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel have yet to set a lap time so the German will need to improve to be safe.

  64. 1309: 

    Bruno Senna gets it all wrong into Turn 1, running well wide and ruining any hopes of setting a decent lap time on this lap. Meanwhile, Felipe Massa gets well wide on the exit of Turn 13, narrowly missing the gravel trap before recovering to the safety of the Tarmac.

  65. 1306: 

    Charles Pic sets a 1m53.4 which won't trouble those hoping to get into Q2. Sergio Perez is the first runner to set a competitive time, clocking 1:49.642 to go quickest of all.

  66. 1304: 

    Along with live TV coverage of qualifying in the video console above, for desktop users we see the return of the On Board, Driver Tracker and Live Pitlane cameras, as well as Alternative Commentary (with James Allen and Jaime Alguersuari) and Live Timing. Enjoy!

  67. 1302: 

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson believes drivers will need to clock a 1m49.2 at the very least to ensure their place in Q2.

  68. 1300: 

    We're away, with Marussia's Charles Pic the first man out on track. Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber will start five places further back than they qualify because of penalties for a gearbox changes.


    Fahad Khan on Twitter: "If Alonso wins this one in Spa, I honestly cannot see anyone catching him for sure given his consistency."

  70. 1255: 

    We've got five minutes until qualifying starts and Fernando Alonso is still chilling out at the back of the garage in his comfy red seat. Meanwhile, over at Lotus, Romain Grosjean is already suited up, helmet on and in the car ready to get out on track.


    Bianca ST on Twitter: "I think it will be between Alonso and the Lotus boys for pole. Maybe Vettel can join the party too."

  72. 1250: 

    Lotus team boss Eric Boullier adds that based on this morning's performance in practice both cars should be able to qualify in the top five which would set them up perfectly to challenge for the win on Sunday. Can Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean deliver?


    Lotus team boss Eric Boullier on Kimi Raikkonen: "When Kimi sits down in the car, he knows what he wants. He is getting the speed out of the car and he's capable of doing that from the very first lap."

  74. 1247: 

    Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen is the driver of choice for this weekend's track guide. The Finn, who has won this race four times before, takes Eddie Jordan on a stroll of this 7.004km track. "This is probably my favourite circuit. It's an old-style circuit in the middle of the forest and it's a challenging track to drive," said Raikkonen.


    Emma Lane on Twitter: "Don't know how Alonso can still keep saying he has the worst car anymore..."

  76. 1242: 

    Just a quick reminder of how today's qualifying hour will work. It will be split into three segments, the first will be 20 minutes and see the slowest seven drivers knocked out. The second session lasts 15 minutes and will see another seven knocked out. That leaves the fastest 10 to battle it out for pole in a 10-minute shoot-out.


    Force India driver Paul di Resta: "I think we should be quite satisfied with what we've achieved, but you're greedy you always want more. We haven't done quite as well as the teams around us, but we've still got that target of sixth place in the constructors championship.

    "The Olympics inspires you to do a bit more training, I've come to Spa a kilo-and-a-half lighter than I was which shows how hard I've been training."

  78. 1237: 

    Four of the last 10 races at Spa-Francorchamps have been won from pole and a total of seven of 10 from the front row.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson at Spa-Francorchamps:

    "McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has played down the positions of his drivers in final practice - fifth for Jenson Button and a surprisingly low 12th for Lewis Hamilton. Whitmarsh said they tried to cram race and qualifying preparation into one session, so the times are not reflective of performance.

    "Hamilton himself seems more concerned. He has just tweeted: 'Just got back from big engineering meeting after a tough session. Car is not fast enough at the moment but have made some big changes!'"


    Williams driver Pastor Maldonado: "It's been a very difficult season for us, we've not been very consistent. But we've been in the top 10 in many of the races so that's quite positive.

    "I've made a couple of mistakes this year, but I've had some bad luck, I think. I try to learn from the mistakes. The approach will be much the same but more careful on the attack maybe."

  81. 1233: 

    Pastor Maldonado has had an up and down season, taking his first F1 victory in the Spanish Grand Prix but then getting caught up in a number incidents and failing to score points since. The Venezuelan has been talking to David Coulthard and it seems he has finally decided to reassess his attacking approach...

  82. 1230: 

    Mercedes Nico Rosberg, who stopped out on track after getting stuck in sixth gear in third and final practice, has been forced to change his gearbox and therefore incurred a five-place grid drop.

  83. 1227: 

    Lotus have just tweeted a picture of their lunch - a nice slab of steak with rocket, parmasan shavings and new potatoes. My ham and lettuce wraps now look rather less appealing. My stomach is rumbling.

  84. 1224: 

    It's pretty sunny, if a little chilly, at Spa and we're hearing that the weather radar suggests no rain for qualifying which will be a relief for the fans who spent much of yesterday squelching around in the wet.

  85. 1222: 

    In qualifying, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa at HRT are the only two drivers to hold perfect record over their respective team-mates Felipe Massa and Narain Karthikeyan.

  86. 1220: 

    2012 pole-sitters:

    Australia - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish 3rd

    Malaysia - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish 3rd

    China - Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) Race finish 1st

    Bahrain - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish 1st

    Spain - Pastor Maldonado (Williams) Race finish 1st

    Monaco - Mark Webber (Red Bull) Race finish 1st

    Canada - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish 4th

    Europe - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish DNF

    Britain - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Race finish 2nd

    Germany - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Race finish 1st

    Hungary - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish 1st


    From Chris in Northwich: "Everyone is talking up Kimi, so I'm hedging my bets and saying Grosjean for the win!"

  88. 1216: 

    Lovely review feature on BBC One right now, charting the season from Jenson Button's victory in the season opener in Melbourne to Fernando Alonso chalking up the points and the wins to take the championship lead despite the Spaniard believing his car is not as quick as his rivals. One for BBC iPlayer later if you missed it.


    Ben Brown on Twitter: "Nine races in 13 weeks get in there!!!! Can't wait for it."

  90. 1213: 

    Eddie Jordan admits that he wasn't one of the many who braved the miserable conditions on Friday, instead choosing to lock himself up in the warmth and keep those crazy shirts nice and dry. Where is the dedication Eddie?

    BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan

    "We've been dished up an amazing first part of the season. If it even comes close to that in the second half, we're in for a hectic final nine races."

  92. 1210: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    I've got goosebumps as the The Chain blasts out on BBC One for the first time in what feels like eternity. It's official. Formula 1 is back.

  93. 1208: 

    In two minutes time, Jake, EJ and DC will hit your screens on BBC One, BBC One HD and above (if you refresh your page). Get that kettle on because you won't want to move for the next two hours or so. Trust me.

  94. 1206: 

    Right then, time for Lawro's pole position prediction. This is the time of the weekend when I choose who I think will claim the P1 gridslot and then you tell me why I'm wrong and who you reckon will claim top spot. I'm going for Kimi Raikkonen because the Finn has won here four times, including taking his last F1 win here in 2009, and has a car which should love the sweeping turns of Spa. Now it's your turn. Tweet me using the #bbcf1 hashtag or text 81111 (UK only). Oh and remember to put your name and F1 on those SMS messages otherwise they will never see the light of day.

  95. 1203: 

    If you were in a sleep-induced coma this morning and missed final free practice, the joke was on you because unlike Friday's two practice sessions - where the most exciting thing was a spectator dressed in a yellow raincoat doing a questionable jig in the rain - we had Formula 1 cars on track setting proper lap times. Fernando Alonso finished top of the pile with just eight tenths separating the top 10.

  96. 1200: 

    Hello, anyone there? Good. I knew you would be. The Olympics has been and gone and now it's time to get down to some hardcore, fuel-injected, old-school duelling on Tarmac. Welcome to qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps.

  97. 1118: 

    I'm off for a quick refuel, but will be back at 12:00 BST to build up to qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. Jake, DC and EJ, who are busy rehearsing in the paddock as I type, will then hit your screens 10 minutes later on BBC One, BBC One HD and above before the one-hour session begins at 13:00. In the meantime, here's Andrew Benson's final practice report. I'll see you back here in a bit. Don't go too far.

  98. 1114: 

    Lovely stuff. Nice to see the cars back on track and attacking the Tarmac in anger rather than pootling around in the rain or sitting in the garage twiddling their thumbs. Just one second separates the top 11 which sets things up nicely for close qualifying session.


    James Holman on Twitter: "Ferrari will benefit with their tyre warm up on the cold track/harder compounds. Ferrari 1-2 in qualifying."

  100. 1111: 

    The Ferraris look to have focused on qualifying pace, while the Saubers and Lotuses look quick, but as Gary Anderson said earlier, those focusing on race pace should come to the fore on Sunday because it is possible to overtake here, especially with the use of DRS.

  101. 1108: 

    And here's the sharp end 1-12:

    1) Alonso 2) Raikkonen 3) Perez 4) Kobayashi 5) Button 6) Massa 7) Webber 8) Grosjean 9) Vettel 10) Di Resta 11) Maladonado 12) Hamilton

  102. 1106: 

    Here's how they finished 13-24:

    13) Schumacher 14) Hulkenberg 15) Vergne 16) Ricciardo 17) Senna 18) Kovalainen 19) Pic 20) Glock 21) Petrov 22) De la Rosa 23) Karthikeyan 24) Rosberg

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "Everyone is struggling with the balance of the car as the track is still pretty green. I think it will develop quite a lot. We haven't seen the real pace yet as we don't know about fuel loads. Sauber, Ferrari and Lotus look quick but it's still very open for qualifying."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "I think the grid we see here will definitely not be the race result we see on Sunday."

  105. 1102: 


  106. 1059: 

    Kimi Raikkonen pops his Lotus into second, 0.141 second slower than Fernando Alonso, with the Saubers of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi third and fourth respectively. That lap of Alonso looks unbeatable with just one minute remaining.

  107. 1057: 

    Epic lap from Fernando Alonso who is really throwing that Ferrari around this track. The Spaniard runs perilously wide, but holds it and then brakes late into the final chicane, gets a good exit and goes quickest of all, three tenths quicker than anyone else.

    BBC Radio 5 live analyst Jaime Alguersuari

    "The Saubers are looking really good. I don't know what they're doing with fuel in this session, but I think they will definitely be in Q3."

  109. 1055: 

    Sergio Perez is totally committed as he hooks up a beautiful lap in the Sauber to go quickest of all, just 0.013 seconds ahead of his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi. Brilliant stuff from the Mexican.

  110. 1053: 

    Force India's Paul di Resta appears far from happy with the rear-end stability of his Force India. "The rear is dancing around a bit," he tells his team as they roll him back into the garage.

  111. 1050: 

    We've got 10 minutes to go in final practice and Mark Webber continues to lead the way, 0.128 seconds clear of Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Everyone apart from Nico Rosberg has completed at least 12 laps to gain valuable data ahead of qualifying later today.

  112. 1048: 

    Michael Schumacher, the lone Mercedes driver after Nico Rosberg parked it up after 10 minutes of this session, goes eighth quickest, eight tenths off the pace. the German lost a massive half a second to pacesetter Mark Webber in the middle sector.

  113. 1043: 

    Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel keeps it nice and tidy to go second overall, one tenth slower than Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber. Just one second separates the top 14 drivers.

  114. 1040: 

    As the teams switch their attention to qualifying-simulation runs, Mark Webber goes quickest of all by 0.4 seconds in the Red Bull. The Australian's weekend will be compromised with a five-place grid drop following a gearbox change. Both McLarens are out on track now.

  115. 1038: 

    Romain Grosjean shows the Lotus has pace, creeping ahead of Sergio Perez by 0.05 seconds. Fernando Alonso has just headed out on a fresh set of hard tyres, so let's see what he can do.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "The 'monkey seat' - the small wing in the centre between the upper and lower parts of the rear wing - has gone from Fernando Alonso's car. He had been running with it, while Felipe Massa did not have one. They're definitely going for straight-line speed. The first and third sectors of the lap here are about straight-line speed, while the middle one is about hanging on. Ferrari are definitely giving Alonso a car he's going to have to do a lot of driving in this weekend."

  117. 1035: 

    Sergio Perez is our new leader, becoming the first man into the 1m49s. His Sauber team-mate Kamui Kobayashi slots into second, 0.5 seconds off the pace. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are down in 11th and 12th respectively, while the McLarens are having a torrid time in 20th and 21st. Both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, who have only completed 15 laps between them, are parked up in the garage while the team make some tweaks.


    Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen on team radio: "The DRS doesn't always open when I close it and then try to open it again. That's a problem."


    James Holman on Twitter: "Ahhhh Ferrari at the top!!! Please stay that way! Come on Michael make it a #300 to remember."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "I'm down here at McLaren, where Jenson Button was complaining about the balance. Both McLarens are six seconds off the Ferrari pace so I suspect that there may be a bit of fuel in that car. But I'd be surprised if Ferrari only went out and did low-fuel runs, unless they're committing themselves to qualifying."

  121. 1030: 

    The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have set the early pace at the half-way point of the third and final practice. Nico Rosberg pulled off the track in his Mercedes with a suspected transmission problem. Here's how they stand with 30 minutes remaining:

    1) Alonso 2) Massa 3) Senna 4) Pic 5) Glock 6) Hulkenberg 7) Vettel 8) Perez 9) Webber 10) Grosjean 11) Kobayashi 12) Maldonado

    13) Di Resta 14) Raikkonen 15) Ricciardo 16) Schumacher 17) Petrov 18) Vergne 19) Button 20) Hamilton 21) Kovalainen 22) Rosberg 23) Karthikeyan 24) De la Rosa

  122. 1026: 

    Michael Schumacher is getting horribly held up by an HRT for his entire flying lap and unsurprisingly sets a lap time over six seconds off the pace. The seven-time world champion, who is celebrating his 300th race this weekend, finally gets past at the final chicane to give him some clear air for another lap.

  123. 1024: 

    Jenson Button on team radio: "I think we've got to look at the balance."

    That's not the first time we've heard the 2009 world champion complain about balance and I suspect it won't be the last. Back to the set-up drawing board for McLaren.

  124. 1022: 

    Fernando Alonso goes again and makes no mistake this time, hooking his lap up nicely to go quickest on the medium tyre. His Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa then runs him close on the harder, more durable tyre, with a time just 0.163 seconds slower.

  125. 1019: 

    Felipe Massa has a battle to keep the rear of that Ferrari in check, but his lap time isn't hurt too much and he goes second, 0.144 seconds behind Bruno Senna. Massa's team-mate Fernando Alonso slots into third after a mistake on his lap.


    Williams on Twitter: "Aero evaluations and quali prep today - busy morning to make up for no dry practice yesterday!"

  127. 1017: 

    Bruno Senna improves his time again with a 1:51.741 to maintain his spot at the top of the charts. He's 2.444 seconds clear of Timo Glock in the Marussia. We've yet to see timed laps from Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson at Spa-Francorchamps:

    "A bit of politics for those interested. Talks have been taking place all year with the intention of enshrining into the sporting regulations a way of controlling costs. This is currently done by an inter-team contract called the Resource Restriction Agreement, which controls how much research and development can be done. Back in June, a deal looked close, but this weekend it looks further away than ever, with Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, the main opposition, especially trenchant. 'F1 should not be run by accountants,' he said on Friday."

  129. 1013: 

    Replays show that Nico Rosberg tries to downshift, but he gets stuck in sixth gear and has no real choice but to stop the car to prevent further damage. Bad news for the German who will enter qualifying with just five laps in the dry under his belt.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "I'm down at Ferrari and there's a lot of activity around Fernando Alonso's car. I think it's OK. There was a lot of 'Flo-viz' on the car and they have been clearing it off. There's also someone changing something on the rear suspension, but Fernando's getting back in the car now."

  131. 1011: 

    Misery for Mercedes as Nico Rosberg pulls off the track and rolls to a stop on the side of the track. The German takes out the steering wheel and hops out of the car. More on what's happened when we have it.


    Simon Clarke on Twitter: "Spa Francorchamps, barring the Nordschleife, is my favourite track in the world."

  133. 1008: 

    The times are tumbling with Bruno Senna setting purple times in all three sectors in his Williams to go three seconds faster than Red Bull's Mark Webber in second.

  134. 1006: 

    We've had a flurry of lap times filter through, with Mark Webber the quickest of them all in 1:56.957. Bruno Senna tucks into second, 0.6 seconds of the pace, with Pastor Maldonado, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg completing the top six.

  135. 1004: 

    Just four minutes gone and we've already had a timed lap. Jean-Eric Vergne clocks 1:58.079 in the Toro Rosso to set the early pace.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson:

    "Ferrari have got their Spa set-up on. The front is the most interesting one. It's a normal front wing but all the upper elements on the front wing have been stripped and it looks neat and tidy. Very small rear wing, too, and they're definitely going for straight-line speed."

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson at Spa-Francorchamps:

    "After all the excitement over the potential advantage Lotus's new straight-line speed boosting 'device' could give them here, the team have taken it off both cars for qualifying and race. The rain on Friday meant they did not have enough time to calibrate the system, which ducts air from behind the drivers' head to reduce the effectiveness of the rear wing and cut drag. It is widely believed to be operate independent of the DRS overtaking aid which all cars carry and use a 'fluidic switch', which means the system comes into operation above a certain velocity. It's a difficult thing to control and get right, so the team decided that 'discretion was the better part of valour', as technical director James Allison put it. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean are expected to be competitive, nonetheless."

  138. 1000: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    Third practice for the Belgian Grand Prix is go, go, go. There's a train of cars gagging to get out on track, led by the two Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez. I have a feeling my fingers are going to be on overdrive for the next hour.

  139. 0955: 

    Oh to see lovely blue sky sitting high above the 7.004km 19-corner Spa-Francorchamps circuits. It's a beautiful track in the wet, but even more stunning in the sunshine. The grandstands and grassbanks are filling up nicely with fans dressed in zips and trainers rather than the raincoats and wellies of yesterday. Just five minutes to go, with the video player now up and running above.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson at Spa-Francorchamps:

    "McLaren come here in a confident frame of mind, despite Lewis Hamilton's 47 points deficit to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the championship. Hamilton won last time out in Hungary and technical director Paddy Lowe says the team can still win both drivers' and constructors' titles. 'Ferrari are certainly not the front-runner (in terms of pace) of the four (leading) teams,' Lowe said. 'So that gives us cause for some encouragement. Of course Fernando has the points lead in the drivers' championships but, with 25 points for a win and without the quickest car, then they are exposed. And that is the opportunity that we want to exploit. Although we are on the back foot points wise, we have done all the calculations and made all our own estimates - and we think that we can put ourselves in a great position to win both championships still.'"

  141. 0950: 

    So who is everyone's tip to perform well at Spa this weekend? Do you agree with Andrew Benson who suggests Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus are the ones to beat? Will McLaren maintain their recent run of form and take a second successive win? Or will Fernando Alonso somehow haul that Ferrari to the front again and make it win number four? Get in touch using the #bbcf1 hashtag on Twitter or text 81111 (UK only).

  142. 0946: 

    The full throttle period from Turn One to Turn Five, including Eau Rouge, is the longest of the season and lasts over 23 seconds.

  143. 0944: 

    The safety car and medical car have just swept through the might Eau Rouge corner as they explore the conditions of the track. Though damp patches are visible, the track is largely dry and should, as Paul di Resta just pointed out, see plenty of action right from the start as drivers try to make up for the loss of any meaningful running on Friday.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson at Spa-Francorchamps:

    "Red Bull's Mark Webber knows he cannot qualify any higher than sixth this weekend after his team were forced to change his gearbox - a problem he also suffered in Germany two races ago. It is bad news for Webber, who is second in the championship to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, and the last thing he needed as he tries to maintain a lead over team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull's favourite son, who is just two points behind him in the standings. The damage to the gearbox was caused by a differential failure that hampered Webber in the last race in Hungary. 'I've known about it for a month,' said a cheery Webber before final practice."

  145. 0940: 

    If you're a Mark Webber fan, I've got bad news to bring you afraid. The Australian's hopes of winning the Belgian Grand Prix for the first time have taken a hit...


    Force India driver Paul di Resta on Twitter: "Big change in the weather this morning. Fans are going to see lots of cars running in FP3 gathering data."

  147. 0937: 

    BBC weatherman Simon King on Twitter: "Big improvement in the conditions for qualifying. The morning may well start off cool and cloudy but the clouds will part and there'll be increasing amounts of blue sky appearing into the afternoon. With those sunny spells, it'll feel a touch warmer too with highs of 16C. Lighter winds are expected too."

  148. 0935: 

    Final practice - which lasts an hour - starts at 0900 BST and you can follow the action with me as well as watching it on the video player at the top of this page. The teams and drivers then get a short time to regroup before qualifying gets under way at 1300. Before then, I'll be building you up from 1200 with Jake, EJ and DC hitting your screens 10 minutes later on BBC One, BBC One HD and this very website.

    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson at Spa-Francorchamps:

    "Friday brought one side of the Belgian Grand Prix with persistent rain; Saturday has brought another. The sky is blue, and the forests of the Ardennes mountains are bathed in beautiful autumn sunshine. The world's finest motor racing circuit looks very much the part in these conditions and the stage is set for a thrilling day's entertainment as the teams and drivers rush to make up for time lost in the rain."

  150. 0932: 

    Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to final practice and qualifying for the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. If like me, you're gagging to see someone, anyone, set just one quick lap round here, the wait could almost be over...

  151. 0930: 

    Patches of blue sky greet Spa-Francorchamps this morning and the rain which destroyed any hope of meaningful running on Friday - and saw Charles Pic of Marussia bizarrely top the timesheets - is nowhere to be seen...for now. Will it stay away long enough for us to see a Formula 1 car get out of second gear round here for the first time this season? We're about to find out.

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Formula 1 World Championship 2014

Position Driver Team Pts
1 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes 165
2 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes 161
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull 98
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari 87
5 Finland V Bottas Williams 73
6 Germany S Vettel Red Bull 70
7 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India 63
8 Great Britain J Button McLaren 55
9 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren 35
10 Brazil F Massa Williams 30
11 Mexico S Perez Force India 28
12 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari 19
13 France J Vergne Toro Rosso 9
14 France R Grosjean Lotus 8
15 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso 6
16 France J Bianchi Marussia 2
17 Germany A Sutil Sauber 0
18 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham 0
19 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus 0
20 Mexico E Gutierrez Sauber 0
21 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia 0
22 Japan K Kobayashi Caterham 0


After 52 of 52 laps
Position Driver Team

Race completed

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Finland V Bottas Williams
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Great Britain J Button McLaren
5 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
6 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
7 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
8 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
9 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
10 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
11 Mexico S Perez Force India
12 France R Grosjean Lotus
13 Germany A Sutil Sauber
14 France J Bianchi Marussia
15 Japan K Kobayashi Caterham
16 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
17 Venezuela P Maldonado (ret.) Lotus
18 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
19 Sweden M Ericsson (ret.) Caterham
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Brazil F Massa (ret.) Williams
22 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari