Button captures pole for Belgian GP

Jenson Button from McLaren claimed his first Formula One pole position in three years after winning Saturday's qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Button, whose last pole came in the Monaco Grand Prix during his 2009 world championship season, turned a lap around the 4.352-mile, 19-turn Spa- Francorchamps circuit in 1 minute, 47.573 seconds. He drove for Brawn GP in '09 before moving over to McLaren the following year.

His pole in Belgium comes after F1's four-week summer break during the month of August.

"It's been quite a long time since I got my last pole position back in 2009," Button said. "It's pretty emotional. Sundays have been good for the past few years, but Saturdays have not gone perfectly you could say. It was a great qualifying session, and it's so important to come back after such a long break with a good result."

Button is currently seventh in the point standings. He won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi qualified a career-best second after posting a lap in 1:47.871 in his Sauber.

"It was a great qualifying for me," Kobayashi said. "We really struggled in practice (on Friday), but this morning we changed things differently and improved."

Pastor Maldonado placed his Williams car third on the grid with a lap in 1:47.893.

"We've been quite consistent in qualifying throughout the season, especially after Barcelona (Spanish Grand Prix)," Maldonado said. "We've been working so hard, even during the break, to try to analyze and understand all of the problems we had in the past to solve them for the second part of the season. This means now we are competitive."

Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus qualified fourth, followed by Kobayashi's teammate, Sergio Perez, and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who enters this race with a comfortable 40-point lead in the championship standings.

Mark Webber placed seventh but received a five-grid spot penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change on his Red Bull car. Webber will therefore start 12th in Sunday's race.

His teammate, Sebastian Vettel, the two-time defending F1 world champion, failed to advance in the final round of qualifying (Q3) for the first time since April in the Chinese Grand Prix. Vettel qualified 11th but starts one spot higher due to Webber's penalty.

"I was pretty happy with the lap, but we weren't quick enough," Vettel said.

Vettel won last year's Belgian GP.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton qualified eighth, while Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Paul di Resta from Force India completed the top-10.

Michael Schumacher, who is competing in his 300th grand prix, will start 13th.

Nico Rosberg from Mercedes was penalized five positions on the grid for a gearbox change as well. Rosberg will start 23rd after qualifying 18th.

The 44-lap Belgian GP is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. ET.