World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel claimed his ninth pole position ahead of tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix using the Pirelli P Zero Soft tyres.
Following an action-packed qualifying session the Red Bull racer was half a second faster than his McLaren rival Lewis Hamilton on the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
As usual in Belgium, the action during qualifying centred around the tyre choice and weather conditions, which remained uncertain throughout Q1 with scattered clouds and a damp surface. The skies darkened as the initial 20-minute session ended, with rain falling in the closing minutes and an ambient temperature of 16 degrees centigrade.
The rain persisted but did not increase in intensity throughout Q2, which was interrupted by a red flag. As was the case throughout Q1, the drivers used the P Zero Blue intermediate tyres during the whole of Q2.
During the final 10-minute battle for pole, all remaining drivers headed out on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre despite plenty of standing water that was still on the track.
The surface dried rapidly throughout the closing minutes, with Vettel claiming pole position in the final seconds after a duel with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton – who will line up second on the grid tomorrow ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, commented: “This was a tense and unpredictable qualifying session, which was dominated by strategy as the teams tried to read the conditions, which were changing all the time.
“The intermediate tyres showed their versatility despite the changing weather in Q1 and Q2, while in Q3 the P Zero Yellow soft tyre demonstrated its speed and grip on a damp surface. Spa is one of the truly great circuits but a huge challenge for both the drivers and the tyres.
“With the way that qualifying has worked out we’re set for some fantastic battles all the way down the grid tomorrow.”
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team