Webber: Gamble paid off in qualifying

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Mark Webber has explained how his gamble in Q3 paid off as he managed to qualify in third place for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

With rain falling intermittently throughout all three qualifying sessions in Belgium, conditions were difficult for the drivers to handle. During Q1, Max Chilton, Jules Bianchi and Giedo van der Garde all made it through to Q2 by gambling on slick tires. Later in Q3, Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton all timed their final runs perfectly in order to overhaul Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets and lock out the top three slots on the grid.

“It was a difficult session to make all the right calls, but in the end I think we got most things right,” Webber said in the post-race press conference. “I think it’s very easy to look stupid in those conditions, but in the end we did most things pretty good I’d say.”

Webber explained the decision to put in a slower middle lap in order to allow conditions to improve and not over-use the tires, expressing his happiness that it went to plan and elevated him into the top three.

“It was a ballsy thing to go slower on the second to last lap to save the tires, when you’re still not sure if the track will improve for the last lap, but in the end it worked out and I’m happy to be up there for tomorrow’s race.“

This race will be Webber’s final appearance at Spa-Francorchamps as a Formula One driver ahead of his retirement at the end of the season, but he has already expressed his anticipation for returning to the track as part of Porsche’s LMP1 programme next year.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”