"Pole position?" said Giancarlo Fisichella, clearly double-checking that he had heard his engineer correctly over the Force India pit-to-car radio system.

"Pole position?" said Giancarlo Fisichella, clearly double-checking that he had heard his engineer correctly over the Force India pit-to-car radio system.

The Roman veteran, at the head of a confusingly shuffled grid order, stunned the formula one world as he took his Mercedes-powered car to the fastest time in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.

He might be aided by a slightly low fuel load, but the veteran driver has been genuinely quick in Belgium and was never slower than fourth throughout Saturday's decisive qualifying hour.

Almost as oddly, Toyota's Jarno Trulli joins his countryman on the front row of the grid, ahead of yet another unexpected quick man Nick Heidfeld, who had topped the morning practice session.

"It's a mystery," Trulli told reporters. "We haven't done anything on the car compared to the last few races and suddenly here we are competitive."

In terms of the title chase, the real winner of qualifying is Rubens Barrichello, as the other protagonists Sebastian Vettel (8th), Mark Webber (9th) and particularly Jenson Button (14th), all struggled.

"I didn't have any pace on the soft tyres and every time I hit the brakes, the rear would move. I did not have any confidence in the rear end," a baffled championship leader Button told BBC radio.

"It's strange to be four or five tenths off Rubens -- our cars are different, but they are not that different. It is pretty disastrous for tomorrow really," the Briton added.

Luca Badoer almost certainly participated in an official F1 session for the last time, despite looking more competitive than a week ago at Valencia.

However, the Italian still qualified dead last, and ended the Q1 session beached in the gravel.

 

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:45.102 1:44.667 1:46.308 23
2 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:45.140 1:44.503 1:46.395 24
3 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:45.566 1:44.709 1:46.500 18
4 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:45.237 1:44.834 1:46.513 23
5 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:45.655 1:44.557 1:46.586 22
6 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:45.579 1:44.953 1:46.633 21
7 10 Timo Glock Toyota 1:45.450 1:44.877 1:46.677 21
8 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:45.372 1:44.592 1:46.761 20
9 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:45.350 1:44.924 1:46.788 22
10 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:45.486 1:45.047 1:47.362 20
11 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:45.239 1:45.119 18
12 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.767 1:45.122 16
13 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:45.707 1:45.136 16
14 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:45.761 1:45.251 18
15 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.705 1:45.259 19
16 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:45.951 7
17 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:46.032 10
18 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:46.307 10
19 8 Romain Grosjean Renault 1:46.359 11
20 3 Luca Badoer Ferrari 1:46.957 11

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