Button clinches first McLaren pole in Belgium
1 September 2012 – Jenson Button has sealed his maiden pole position for McLaren ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. The Englishman will share the front row with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, with Pastor Maldonado and Kimi Räikkönen third and fourth. Championship leader Fernando Alonso starts sixth, with Red Bull tenth and twelfth.
Qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps always did promise to thrown up an unusual order, as the teams had experienced only a single hour of dry practice time this morning. Both of Friday’s sessions were washout out, meaning four hours of car setup time was condensed to one.
Not only were Schumacher and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa eliminated in Q2, but Red Bull’s struggles were obvious as 2011 pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel was dramatically knocked out. As Mark Webber has a penalty and slides back to 12th place, the reigning Champion starts tenth and faces a tough Sunday afternoon of damage limitation.
In practice, one of the burning questions had been whether McLaren was sandbagging or struggling. Clearly, the former was the answer as Button repeated his superb Q2 pace by registering a Q3 lap time of 1:47.573. This is a massive seven tenths of a second quicker than Kimi Räikkönen, a favourite for victory with many whose chances have now been lowered by Lotus not being able to run ‘Double DRS’.
Button’s eighth F1 pole position is not only his first for McLaren, but his first since Monte Carlo 2009 for Brawn, thus ending a 60-race draught. With his previous grid best at Spa having been third for Williams in his debut season of 2000, today’s result also confirms his first front row start since the Malaysian Grand Prix at the end of March.
Sunday’s 2012 Belgian Grand Prix begins at 2pm local time (BST +1) and can also be tracked though the interactive GPUpdate.net Live Report