Lewis Hamilton admitted that he had been stunned when he heard that he had succeeded in claiming pole position at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday after a tumultuous rain-hit qualifying session.

"A fourth pole in a row just feels fantastic!" he said afterwards. "I was so surprised when I came across the line to hear I was P1.

"I went wide in the first corner and I thought I was down on time from the read-out on my steering wheel," he explained. "I just kept pushing and did a strong middle sector, then I could see I was catching Sebastian towards the end so it was a great feeling."

"Lewis, running last on the road on the final lap, did a great job with the opportunity he had," added team principal Ross Brawn. "We were not sure how it would turn out as DRS had been disabled for that final lap, then we saw his time in the second sector and started to get excited.

"It was obviously a very tricky session for everybody this afternoon and we were far from perfect but we did enough things right to get the job done," added Brawn. "It's a fantastic team result to have two cars starting in the top four after such a mixed qualifying."

Hamilton was also quick to share the credit for his fourth consecutive pole position with his Mercedes pit crew and strategists who had made it possible for him to go out and deliver at the culmination of the topsy-turvy session.

"The team did a great job to get the timing at the end of Q3 absolutely perfect and I was in exactly the right track position," he said. "I hope we can try and fight it out tomorrow, whatever the conditions.

"The Red Bulls are still ahead of us in terms of performance so results like this feel even more special because I know I've got the absolute maximum out of myself and out of the car," he added.

Hamilton had been complaining about the car's handling going into Saturday's qualifying session and still seemed out of sorts with it even as he progressed through the first two rounds, only barely squeaking into Q3 after finishing in tenth ahead of Sauber's Nico H?lkenberg by the narrowest of margins as Toto Wolff, Mercedes' director of motorsport pointed out.

"It was very close indeed for Lewis in Q2 when he made it through by just two-hundredths of a second and that showed how challenging the entire hour was in terms of tactics and strategy," said Wolff.

The smart money at that point would have been on his team mate Nico Rosberg to nail pole in the final minutes rather than Hamilton, but ie didn't happen for the German.

"It was a very difficult qualifying session and unfortunately luck wasn't on my side today," sighed Rosberg. "When I took the chequered flag, I was quickest at that time, but the track got quicker and quicker for the guys who had got the extra lap and eventually ended up in the top three positions

"I must be happy with fourth place on the grid," he added quickly. "Our car seems pretty good in all conditions here this weekend which makes me hopeful of a strong race performance tomorrow afternoon."

"Both drivers produced special laps," insisted Wolff. "Nico was top of the timesheets when he took the chequered flag and then Lewis delivered another of his magic laps, especially in the middle sector. Our engineers have clearly found a good set-up for these mixed conditions and we are expecting more of the same kind of weather tomorrow.

Brawn agreed that the weather could indeed prove similarly changeable for the race. "We will have a good chance of success," he said. "But we will have to run a smart race and make the right decisions to do achieve it.

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