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Vettel takes ninth pole position of the season at a wet/dry Spa

Sebastian Vettel, Spa, pole, 2011Sebastian Vettel secured his ninth pole position of the 2011 season as he came out on top in a frantic wet/dry qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Red Bull driver's 1m48.298s lap right at the end denied Lewis Hamilton pole by just under half a second. Mark Webber was third in the second Red Bull, with Felipe Massa fourth in the leading Ferrari.

Hamilton was able to compete in Q3 despite a bizarre incident with Williams's Pastor Maldonado in the previous segment.

As track conditions rapidly improved and the times turned inside out, Hamilton banged wheels with Maldonado going through the Bus Stop chicane as the McLaren completed a flying lap. It was still quick enough to make Hamilton fastest at the time, but Maldonado appeared to retaliate for the contact on the run out of La Source on their slowing-down laps, sideswiping the McLaren, which then needed minor impromptu repairs for Q3.

The second McLaren of Jenson Button was one of those out of luck in the late-Q2 scramble, leaving the winner of the last race back in 13th on the grid.

The end of Q3 was similarly topsy-turvy as the track became ever more dry. Massa outqualified Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso for only the second time this season as they took fourth and eighth respectively.

Nico Rosberg put his Mercedes in fifth, while Jaime Alguersuari starred with an outstanding sixth for Toro Rosso.

But the real hero of qualifying was Bruno Senna, who was rapid throughout and marked his debut for Renault with seventh on the grid - three places ahead of team-mate Vitaly Petrov, who shares row five with Sergio Perez's Sauber.

Rosberg's was the only Mercedes in the top 10. Twenty years after he stunned Formula 1 by qualifying seventh on his debut with Jordan at Spa, Michael Schumacher's anniversary weekend went dramatically downhill when his Mercedes shed a rear wheel on its out-lap at the start of Q1 and crashed heavily on the approach to Rivage, leaving him at the tail of the field.

Although Sebastien Buemi was regularly in the top 10 at times, when it counted in Q2 the Toro Rosso driver found himself back in 11th, ahead of Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi.

Neither Williams made it beyond Q2, with Rubens Barrichello 14th and Maldonado 16th - any penalty for the Hamilton incident permitting. Adrian Sutil ended up between them after crashing his Force India on the way out of Eau Rouge while holding fifth in Q2. A red flag was required while the debris was cleared up.

That completed a miserable session for Force India as a spin and then an early call to return to the pits had left Paul di Resta down in 18th. With Schumacher and di Resta both missing the cut, Heikki Kovalainen made it to Q2 for Lotus and took 17th.

At the back, Virgin's Jerome D'Ambrosio and the two HRTs were both outside the 107 per cent time in Q1 but will have a good argument for gaining dispensation to race given the weather conditions.

Pos  Driver                Team                 Time          Gap   
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m48.298s
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m48.730s   + 0.432
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m49.376s   + 1.078
 4.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m50.256s   + 1.958
 5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m50.552s   + 2.254
 6.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m50.773s   + 2.475 
 7.  Bruno Senna           Renault              1m51.121s   + 2.823
 8.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m51.251s   + 2.953
 9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m51.374s   + 3.076
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m52.303s   + 4.005
Q2 cut-off time: 2m04.625s                                    Gap **
11.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   2m04.692s   + 1.924
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       2m04.757s   + 1.989
13.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     2m05.150s   + 2.382
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    2m07.349s   + 4.581
15.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 2m07.777s   + 5.009
16.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    2m08.106s   + 5.338
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        2m08.354s   + 5.586
Q1 cut-off time: 2m07.194s                                    Gap *
18.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 2m07.758s   + 5.945
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        2m07.773s   + 5.960
20.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      2m09.566s   + 7.753
21.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      2m11.601s   + 9.788
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         2m11.616s   + 9.803
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth         2m13.077s  + 11.264
24.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             no time


107% time: 2m10.339s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2
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