Belgian GP Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton takes pole
Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG Petronas took pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg, who will start tomorrow’s race in P2. Hamilton had a time of 1:47.197, bettering his own previous time, while Rosberg finished in 1:47.655.
Williams had a strong show at the race as well, with Finn Valtteri Bottas in third with 1:48.537. Romain Grosjean of Lotus followed with a quick time of 1:48.561.
Force India had a relatively strong performance at the race, with Sergio Perez making it through to Q3 and rounding up the top 5 ahead of tomorrow’s race. He had a time of 1:48.599 behind Grosjean, but since the Lotus driver has 5 grid penalties, Perez will start in P4 instead. Force India’s Hulkenberg, however, was eliminated after Q2.
Scuderia Ferrari, however, did not fare well. 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel did well initially, but floundered by the end of Q3 to qualify in 9th position behind the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado. Kimi Raikkonen, hailed as the ‘King of Spa’, had an early end to qualifying as he suffered power issues yet again. Ferrari said the issue was related to ‘oil pressure’ but no more details were available at the time. He has suffered several power unit issues this year, and it appears the vehicle has let him down again.
Both McLarens will begin the race at the bottom along with the Marussias of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi, in what has become standard practice for most F1 races this year.
Although Grosjean will begin in 10th, serving penalties for a gearbox change, he put in a flier of a performance marked by full-throttle speeds and accurate handling of the difficult turns at Spa-Francorchamps.
Ferrari, Force India and Red Bull each had one driver still in contention at the end of Q2. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who won last year’s race, had the 6th-fastest time behind Force India’s Sergio Perez but will begin in 5th following Grosjean’s 5-place penalty.
At the post-race press conference, polesitter Hamilton said he had “aimed for pole”, was “happy with the result”, and that the margin with his teammate Rosberg had been “very, very close”.
Rosberg, who blazed through practice and had then driven better than his British teammate, described himself as “disappointed”, but looked forward to the rundown to turn 5, and said his “hopes are officially still high.” This comes after a hairy situation yesterday, when Rosberg’s car skidded off the track as his tyre exploded. Manufacturers Pirelli released a statement this morning saying that it was an “external issue” and there had been no manufacturer issue.
Bottas, in P3, said he was “happy” and that it was “good to be back in the top 3”. All drivers looked forward to an “exciting race” tomorrow.
Standings ahead of the race: