Fisichella delivers Force India's first ever pole
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS: Italian veteran Giancarlo Fisichella produced the biggest qualifying shock of the season on Saturday when he delivered Force India's first-ever pole position in a stunning qualifying session for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.
Fisichella, 36, clocked his best time in the final five minutes of a tense session that produced several shocks including both world championship leader Jenson Button of Brawn GP and defending champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren failing to make it into the top ten.
Fisichella outpaced fellow-Italian Jarno Trulli of Toyota, who was second, ahead of third-placed German Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber and Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello of Brawn GP, who was fourth.
Polish driver Robert Kubica was fifth for BMW ahead of Germans Timo Glock and Sebastian Vettel, for Toyota and Red Bull respectively, with Australian Mark Webber ninth in the second Red Bull and German Nico Rosberg 10th for Williams.
It was an extraordinary conclusion to a crazy session run in unpredictable conditions with most teams appearing to be left scratching their heads over the performances.
On another day of capricious-looking weather in the Belgian Ardennes, Q1 produced a late drama with Webber escaping an early cut in the final minutes. The Australian, wearing a black armband in honour of compatriot Frank Gardner who died earlier on Saturday, managed a fast lap to climb to second and out of trouble.
The men eliminated were, predictably, Italian veteran Luca Badoer of Ferrari, French rookie Romain Grosjean of Renault, Japanese Kazuki Nakajima of Williams, Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari of Toro Rosso and his team-mate Swiss Sebastien Bourdais.
The drama continued in the second mini-session with unexpected casualties as Hamilton, Alonso and Button all failed to make into the top ten shootout.
The defending champion was arguably the biggest surprise among these failures after his good performance on Friday.
All again left their best runs late and this resulted in German Adrian Sutil, for Force India, being knocked out in 11th place followed by Hamilton in his McLaren, Alonso of Renault, Button for Brawn and Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Finn Heikki Kovalainen.
This left a strange-looking top ten with Trulli on top ahead of Kubica. Third was taken by Vettel.
"Not good enough, I'm afraid, P13." said the message to Button from the Brawn GP pit-wall.
A forlorn Button, still leading the title race by 18 points ahead of his Brawn team-mate Barrichello, looked as if his control of the run-in and title prospects themselves had been damaged.
Once again, it meant the Brawn team were relying on Barrichello to produce a performance to deny the Red Bulls taking over again as the top ten delayed their fastest laps for the closing minutes of the shootout.