Live Commentary: Belgian Grand Prix qualifying - as it happened

Live Commentary: Belgian GP qualifying - as it happened
© PA Photos
Live text coverage of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, courtesy of Sports Mole.

Good afternoon and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the qualifying session for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix.

The 12 teams are at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack, one of the best circuits on the calendar, after the mid-season, five-week break.

Who will grab pole position and give themselves the best possible chance of victory? Find out with our commentary below.

2.06pmThat's about it from us. Thanks for joining Sports Mole for coverage this afternoon. We'll be back at around 12.30pm tomorrow for commentary on the race, join us then!

2.04pmButton was streets ahead of the rest this afternoon, setting three laps that would have been good enough for pole. He's got some unfamiliar names around him at the front with Kobayashi, Maldonado and Perez all in the top five.

2.03pmHere's the top 10: 1. Button 2. Kobayashi 3. Maldonado 4. Raikkonen 5. Perez 6. Alonso 7. Webber 8. Hamilton 9. Grosjean 10. Di Resta

2.02pmButton lets out a "woohoo!" as he's told that he's on pole.

2.02pmAlonso, Webber and Hamilton are sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Amazing.

2.01pmBrilliant from Button, who goes even faster for his first pole position with McLaren!

2.01pmWebber can't do it and he's fifth.

2.01pmMaldonado third.

2.00pmKobayashi goes second!

1.59pmRaikkonen will be the first to try to oust Button and he's a 10th down already in the first sector.

1.59pmThis is going to be a ridiculous minute or two. I'll do my best to keep you up to date with all the movers and shakers.

1.58pmButton and Raikkonen are the only two to set a time so far as we approach 90 seconds left of the session.

1.57pmAll the big guns are going out and Button is joining them. Surely he can't go any better?

1.57pmHamilton span off on his first attempt before coming back into the pit. He'll go again with the rest in what is set to be a frantic final couple of minutes! Here we go!

1.56pmButton is told that he's done a "great lap" on the radio. Can the Brit be bettered?

1.55pmWebber and Alonso are still in the garage and they're putting it on the line with one run in Q3. Pressure!

1.54pmMore good stuff from Button as he crosses the line in 1:47.686.

1.53pmThe Finn crosses the line in 1:48.205. Doubt that'll get pole.

1.52pmDi Resta has abandoned his lap as we wait for Raikkonen to set the first time of the final quali session.

1.50pmQ3 is underway! Di Resta, Raikkonen and Hamilton all out early.

1.49pmQ3 will begin shortly and I'm backing Hamilton to take pole. Button was superb there but I'm not sure if he can produce that sort of lap again. Alonso will be second, with Webber and Button on the second row. Mark my words!

1.46pmA real shocker from Vettel, whose teammate Webber was fourth. It's not been a good weekend for Mercedes, with Rosberg out in Q1 and Schumacher not making Q3. Massa's woeful season continues as he is also knocked out.

1.45pm... while these 10 are into the final shootout: 1. Button 2. Perez 3. Raikkonen 4. Webber 5. Hamilton 6. Kobayashi 7. Alonso 8. Grosjean 9. Di Resta 10. Maldonado

1.44pmThese seven are out: 11. Vettel 12. Hulkenburg 13. Schumacher 14. Massa 15. Vergne 16. Ricciardo 17. Senna

1.43pmMassa and Schumacher also haven't made it! Remarkable.

1.43pmPerez goes second fastest as Vettel crashes out at Q2!

1.42pmMaldonado gets into the top 10 and Vettel's now 14th!

1.41pmMassa's into the top 10 but he's only ninth, and that may not be good enough. Di Resta also up to eighth.

1.40pmAt the moment the biggest names set to miss out on Q3 are Schumacher and Massa. Can they change this with a minute to go?

1.38pmVettel comes into the pit and he'll have one flying lap to post a better time. The German is currently into Q3 in 10th but he's likely to be relegated by others unless he can change things.

1.37pmFive minutes of Q2 remain...

1.36pmA real show of intent from Jenson there as Senna spins off the track but recovers to continue on his merry way.

1.35pmHamilton's teammate Button is next up and he sets the fastest middle sector of the day before crossing the line in 1:47.654! Brilliant.

1.34pmIt's messy in the final corner from Hamilton but he goes quickest before being displaced by Raikkonen, who posts a 1:48.414.

1.33pmAlonso produces a fine last sector to post a 1:48.598 and go top of the standings.

1.32pmWebber shows what he's made of with a 1:48.662.

1.32pmForce India's Di Resta is the next across the line and the Scot is 0.873 behind Perez.

1.31pmSolid time from Perez, who crosses the line with a 1:48.880. Only the second time under 1:49 this afternoon.

1.29pmPerez is out straight away and he's the first to begin a flying lap. What marker can the Mexican put down?

1.27pmQ2 is underway!

1.26pmHere are the seven drivers who miss out after finishing down the bottom: 18 Rosberg 19 Kovalainen 20 Petrov 21 Glock 22 De la Rosa 23 Pic 24 Karthikeyan

1.25pmNext up is the 15-minute Q2 session, where we lose another seven cars ahead of the top-10 shootout.

1.23pmSo Q1 finishes with Maldonado the fastest car. Nico Rosberg is the big name who exits at the early stages.

1.21pmLotus's Romain Grosjean was in danger of also dropping out but he just squeezes into Q2, finishing the session 17th.

1.20pmVergne has escaped the drop zone and now Rosberg is in 18th and he's out!

1.19pmMaldonado is the new fastest man as the Williams goes fastest with a 1:48.993, the first car under 1:49.

1.18pmSchumacher gets himself out of trouble and into ninth position, which means that Jean-Eric Vergne is now in danger of losing out.

1.17pmWe usually expect the six drivers from the three weakest teams, Caterham, HRT and Marussia, to be eliminated in Q1 but they're always joined by one of the bigger names and it looks to be Schumacher at the moment.

1.16pmAt the moment it's Michael Schumacher who's in danger of missing out in this first session. The German legend is down in 18th and needs to find something here.

1.15pmNow Vettel and the reigning two-time world champion crosses the line in 1:49.722.

1.14pmHere comes Webber now and the Aussie goes sixth-fastest.

1.14pmWe're still yet to see the Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber as we enter the final six minutes of Q1.

1.13pmHamilton improves again but it's still Alonso who's fastest until Button storms to the top with a 1:49.250!

1.11pmButton is down in ninth as Alonso goes fastest with a 1:49.401.

1.10pmPerez is still the fastest man out there but the top three now includes Hamilton and Alonso, the only other men to go under 110 seconds.

1.08pmWe're yet to see the McLarens, Red Bulls or Lotuses.

1.07pmAlonso has been held up halfway round his lap though and he'll have to go again.

1.06pmChampionship leader Alonso is out and the Spaniard is flying in the first sector.

1.05pmSauber's Sergio Perez is the first man under 1:50 with a 1:49.642.

1.04pmHe's immediately ousted by Paul Di Resta, who crosses the line in 1:50.033.

1.04pmRosberg sets the early pace with a 1:51.125.

1.03pmThe first big gun is out and it's Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. What can the German do early on?

1.01pmThe two tyre compounds available at this racetrack are the medium (white-marked) and hard (silver-marked). No soft or super-softs then.

1.01pmThe first 20-minute session is underway!

12.59pmOne minute until qualifying begins!

12.57pmThere was plenty of rain for first and second practice on Friday but the weather looks set fair this afternoon in Belgium.

12.52pmJust in case we've forgotten the format of qualifying for F1, here's a reminder: The session, which lasts around an hour, will be split into three segments, the first will be 20 minutes and sees the slowest seven drivers knocked out. The second session lasts 15 minutes and will see another seven knocked out, leaving the fastest 10 to battle it out for pole in a 10-minute shoot-out.

12.49pmThere's something I didn't know, Jenson Button has gone 60 races since a pole position and is yet to secure top spot in qualifying since joining McLaren. Can he end this hoodoo today?

12.47pmThe opening section in particular is perhaps the best part of any racetrack in the world. The famous eau rouge corner that climbs significantly uphill and can now be taken at full speed is one of my favourite corners; it's amazing how the car flies through the extended chicane, which has a steep increase of 35m!

12.46pmThe track here at Spa-Francorchamps is arguably the best on the calendar and is a real treat every year.

12.42pmFinal practice took place this morning and here's the top 10 drivers from the session: 1 Alonso 2 Raikkonen 3 Perez 4 Kobayashi 5 Button 6 Massa 7 Webber 8 Grosjean 9 Vettel 10 Di Resta

12.38pmLewis Hamilton, who won the last race in Hungary before the August break, is in fourth on 117 points, 47 points behind Alonso.

12.37pmFerrari's Fernando Alonso leads the way by 40 points from Mark Webber of Red Bull, with Webber's teammate Sebastian Vettel a further two points adrift.

12.35pmLet's remind ourselves how the Drivers' Standings look, click here for our table.

12.33pmHello all, it's been a while since F1 hasn't it?

Fernando Alonso
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