Spa-Francorchamps, 24 August – Both Prancing Horse drivers had good reason to be disappointed at the outcome of qualifying. In the case of Fernando, despite his two world championship crowns, he has never won a Formula 1 race in Belgium and was therefore hoping to do better this year and for Felipe, the opposite is true, as the Brazilian has often shone in the Ardennes, even winning once and so he could have aspired to another good performance. However, the weather, the usual source of consternation at this venue again played its part and, for a variety of circumstances, Fernando and Felipe ended up securing the bottom two places in the top ten shoot-out this afternoon. They will thus start the Belgian Grand Prix, the eleventh race of the year, alongside one another on row 5.
From Friday morning onwards, the F138 had looked more competitive than it had done immediately prior to the summer break and in fact, right up to the start of Q3, there was every reason to be optimistic about grid positions for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. Updates the team have been working on, particularly relating to the aero package of the car, seemed to have cut the performance gap to those who were the front runners leading up to the summer break. The gaps in free practice were smaller than before and gave cause for optimism. However, having got through the first two sections of qualifying with relative ease, Q3 was a different matter. A damp Q1 was followed by a dry Q2, but then, as if an unseen hand was directing the show, trying to add to the spectacle, some clouds reappeared with their cargo of rain, before yet again leaving the stage for the track to start drying. This turned the session into a case of last person to cross the line takes the pole. Fernando and Felipe took the chequered flag when the track was still quite wet, but as it improved yet again, those who came across the stripe later finished ahead of them.
At the top of the time sheet, Lewis Hamilton timed everything to perfection in the Mercedes to secure his fourth consecutive pole position, knocking first Mark Webber and then the other Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel off the top spot. The German starts alongside the Englishman, while the Australian starts on the inside of the second row, with the other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg alongside him in fourth spot.
What can the Ferrari duo expect tomorrow? Much will depend on the weather, but if one assumes that some of the cars ahead of them on the grid do not have quite the pace of the F138 in “normal” conditions, then that fact combined with Fernando and Felipe’s usual aggressive approach to race starts, could see them move up the order to secure a good result, come the end of the 44 laps.