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F1 Belgian Grand Prix: Hamilton prevails for pole as Ferrari toils

Lewis Hamilton takes pole position in Belgium, half-a-second clear of title rival Nico Rosberg; Ferrari down in ninth and 14th.
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Lewis Hamilton will start the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix from a sixth consecutive pole position after comfortably dismissing the challenge of title rival Nico Rosberg at Spa-Francorchamps, while Ferrari starts well down the order after a disappointing session.

Having shown his hand with a rapid turn of pace during FP3, Hamilton was once again in charge when it mattered during qualifying, turning in two laps during the all-important Q3 session that would have assured him of pole position.

Indeed, Rosberg looked set to take the fight to Hamilton when he topped Q2, but Hamilton's first Q3 effort of 1min 47.449secs was already an impressive benchmark even before he improved it further to 1min 47.197secs.

Rosberg, by contrast, could only manage a 1min 47.635secs lap, leaving him a sizeable half-second adrift of his team-mate heading into a what could prove a pivotal race for the title battle.

As expected, qualifying proved a clear two-horse race between the Mercedes pair, with third place Valtteri Bottas a mammoth 1.4secs behind Hamilton. Even so, the Finn can take pleasure from heading up the second row for his best starting position of the season, not least because it came on a day where main rivals Ferrari struggled for pace.

Coming into the weekend keen to maintain the momentum of its Hungarian Grand Prix win, Ferrari's challenge was blunted early on when Kimi Raikkonen's car came to a spluttering halt at the start of Q2, the former champion left watching from the sidelines as he slipped to 14th on the timesheets.

However, Vettel wouldn't fare much better as he found himself on the wrong side of a close battle for third down to ninth, the German just three tenths – but also six positions – shy of Bottas in third.

His best qualifying performance of the season, Romain Grosjean ended up fourth on the timesheet for Lotus, but is destined to take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change earlier in the weekend.

As such, Sergio Perez – who was especially quick in the first sector - is destined to start on the second row in what will be Force India's best starting position since the 2014 British Grand Prix and his own best since last year's Bahrain Grand Prix, the team poised to continue its excellent results record around the Belgian venue.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth fastest, but is set to head up row three in fifth alongside Felipe Massa, while Pastor Maldonado put his difficult start to the weekend behind him to join Lotus team-mate Grosjean in Q3 to qualify eighth, which will become seventh. Behind Vettel, Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten for Toro Rosso.

Unable to match the pace of his Force India team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg was the only Mercedes-powered driver to miss out on Q3 in 11th position, while Hungarian Grand Prix podium winner Daniil Kvyat was also a surprise omission from the top ten as he could only manage the 12th best lap of the Q2 session.

Following his heavy crash yesterday, Marcus Ericsson can take encouragement from out-qualifying Sauber counterpart Felipe Nasr for the fourth time in five races. He will start ahead of the troubled Raikkonen and also Max Verstappen, who also failed to set a time and is destined to start an effective ten places lower because of an engine change, which will equate to 18th on the grid.

As expected, McLaren-Honda found itself consigned to an exit at the first hurdle, with 17th place Jenson Button a full second slower than fellow Q1 casualty Nasr ahead in 16th position, albeit half-a-second faster than Fernando Alonso, who was back in the car having been forced miss FP3.

Regardless, Button and Alonso are destined to start from the back row of the grid anyway following a raft of penalties for power unit component changes – totalling the equivalent of a massive (but worthless) 105 grid positions -, promoting Manor's Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi up three positions each to 16th and 17th.


Tagged as: Lewis Hamilton , Mercedes

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rob01

August 22, 2015 3:37 PM
Last Edited 472 days ago

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