Lewis Hamilton will hope for a return to form for McLaren on race day after securing a front-row start for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.
The Briton lost his championship lead following a retirement in Hungary prior to the summer break, but bounced back with a strong showing in qualifying at Spa, held in challenging conditions after rain continued to plague the Belgian weekend.
Having successfully made it through to Q3, Hamilton was one of the few drivers to set their fastest lap on the second run in the ten-minute shootout as rain started to fall at La Source and despite losing time at the first corner, he emerged as the closest challenger to polesitter Mark Webber.
“We've looked very fast all weekend, and the car's felt great,” he said. “Obviously, the Mercedes-Benz engine is the best suited to this circuit, and our car's aerodynamic package also works well here. On my first run in Q3, I was the first driver into turn 14, and the track was drying but still a bit wet, so I didn't push hard enough and lost ground – maybe half a second.
“I thought we could have got pole, but I went a bit wide at La Source on my final run. There was one little patch of rain over turn one, so it was a bit slippery, and I lost about three and a half tenths there. But I was able to extract some good time from the tyres in the second and third sectors – and that's where I made up the time I lost in sector one.”
Despite missing out on pole however, Hamilton said he didn't feel that being in top spot on the grid would be vital ahead of Sunday's race.
“It's not essential to have pole here – I still feel like I'm in a good position,” he said. “There's a very long straight from Eau Rouge to the top of the hill, and it's quite tricky to stay ahead of a chasing car, even if you're on pole. I'm hopeful of getting a good start tomorrow, and we'll take it from there.
“For tomorrow's race, and in Monza, we need to capitalise on the fact that our package appears to be very competitive. Tomorrow will be a tough race, but we'll keep pushing.”