Nico Rosberg held off a Red Bull charge lead by Max Verstappen by a tenth of a second to take pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix. The Dutch teenager’s Red Bull team has looked strong enough through-out the weekend to take second after Lewis Hamilton was due to start last because of penalties.
Rosberg however was cautious telling Sky Sports “It’s going to be a very challenging race because the tyres are extremely difficult. It will not be easy.”
Verstappen told the press conference “The whole weekend has been very smooth, even though I had some little issues this morning. From there on the mechanics did a great job and in qualifying the car was working really well, as you could see in sector two.”
Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel will start third and fourth. The Fin has always gone well at Spa with him winning four races at the circuit during his career. It was another strong session for Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg getting through to the top ten with them lining up sixth and seventh.
Force India have always been strong here though-out the teams previous names and won under the Jordan name in 1998. But there most successful under this name was third after starting from pole with Giancarlo Fisichella in 2009.
Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest after he failed to get his last run together in Q3. It was a difficult session for the Williams team because after the session it emerged that a software issue meant the team were unable to run full qualifying mode on the engines. Valtteri Bottas will start eighth and Felipe Massa tenth.
Earlier in the session Massa had surprised everyone by going fastest ahead of Vettel and Raikkonen.
The session for the current champion Hamilton and former champion Fernando Alonso was just about qualifying within the 107% rule as both had engine penalties. Hamilton used the session to focus on tyre management and strategy.
Hamilton told BBC News “It’s definitely the weirdest qualifying session or weekend I’ve had so far. We are just taking all the experience and trying to use it. We already know Sunday is a lot different.”
Honda found what it described as a “data anomaly” with Alonso’s engine after the final practice session, but elected to send him out without making an engine change.
For Alonso he failed to set a lap after his McLaren stopped at the top of Eau Rouge on his out lap meaning Hamilton will start twenty first.
Once again Pascal Wehrlein impressed in his Manor getting his car into Q2 but couldn’t improve his time from Q1 and starts sixteenth. While his team-mate Esteban Ocon starts eighteenth.
Any hopes Daniil Kvyat had of improving and regaining form following the summer break were dashed as he failed to get out of Q1. The Russian was only fractionally ahead of the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.