Lewis Hamilton has beaten his championship rival Sebastian Vettel to take pole position for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. The Mercedes driver out qualified the Ferrari by two-tenths of a second following a brilliant final run in Q3.
Hamilton and Mercedes have appeared to have the slight edge throughout the session after going fastest in all three parts of the session. Spa was expected to play to Mercedes this weekend, but Ferrari hasn’t been far behind.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas will start third after being half a second down on his Mercedes team-mate. Bottas had looked as he struggled to get the lap together on his final run, losing time in the middle sector of the lap.
After beating Ayrton Senna’s pole record in Mexico in November, Hamilton has now equalled Michael Schumacher on sixty-eight career poles and could set a new record next weekend at Monza.
After the session when F1 boss Ross Brawn relayed a message of congratulations from the Schumacher family.
It was a remarkable come back from Vettel to start second after he looked to be struggling with his final runs in Q3, after Raikkonen came to the aid of his teammate giving him a tow.
Hamilton said “To be able to put a lap together like that is a dream. I have the best job in the world. It’s a pleasure to be here. To hear the message Ross just gave, I have to say a big thank you.”
“I followed Michael and raced against him and always admired him. My prayers are for him and the family and he will always be one of the greatest of all time.”
Vettel said “I got a good feeling in Q1 but I lost that feeling a little bit. The last lap the car was more alive. I was a bit lucky with Kimi who had to abort the lap and he gave me a very nice tow which made it a bit more comfortable with Valtteri.”
Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen will start fourth after he suffered vibrations from the rear of his car throughout the session. Then he says that he “F***** it up” his final run of the session, so he aborted his lap.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start what is effectively his ‘home’ Grand Prix fifth after out qualifying his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Renault’ Nico Hulkenberg will start seventh with team-mate Jolyon Palmer tenth.
It was a great qualifying until Q3 for Palmer, who has been struggling to match his German team-mate all season, he made it into the final part of the session. But as he returned to the pits following Q2, he suffered a problem with the clutch.
Renault soon reified the problem and got him back out in Q3. But that didn’t last long, as on his out lap he suffered a loss of gearbox oil pressure and pulled off track in a cloud of smoke.
Both McLaren’s made it through to the top ten, so knowing Stoffel Vandoorne has a sixty place grid drop and that they have a power defect he tried to ‘tow’ his team-mate Fernando Alonso along.
That appeared to be working until Alonso made it to the final sector when he was forced to abort the lap because of a lost hybrid energy deployment between Pouhon and Stavelot and he had to abort the lap. He failed to make into Q3. Stoffel Vandoorne made it through to Q2, but opted not to set a time knowing he would start last thanks to two power unit changes and a gearbox change.
The Haas’s will start twelfth and thirteenth, with Romain Grosjean ahead of Kevin Magnussen and the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz just behind.
It was another disappointing afternoon for Williams, both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll dropping out in Q1 with the duo being spilt by the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.
The two Sauber’s of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein round out the session.