Lewis Hamilton charged to his sixth pole position of the 2018 Formula 1 season in a dramatic qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday, edging out Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel in a damp final session as Force India locked out the second row of the grid.

Following dry running in Q1 and Q2, rain hit the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the final session, prompting drivers to switch from slick to intermediate tyres after tip-toeing around the track on their initial outlaps.

Once the worst of the rain passed, Vettel and Hamilton were able to find chunks of time lap after lap in the wet-dry conditions, with Hamilton dropping a fastest lap of 1m58.179s in his final effort.

Despite running later than Hamilton, Vettel could only finish seven-tenths of a second behind, giving the Mercedes driver his 78th pole position in F1 and his sixth at Spa.

Just days after getting permission to re-enter the F1 world championship and having its points total reset to zero, the reborn Force India team was able to capitalise on the conditions and lock out the second row of the grid after some stellar final laps from Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. They will start third and fourth respectively.

Romain Grosjean took fifth for Haas ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who along with the Red Bull drivers of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo opted not to run again late in the session, missing out on the best track conditions. Verstappen and Ricciardo will line up seventh and eight on the grid tomorrow.

Kevin Magnussen took ninth in the second Haas car ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, who survived a spin at Blanchimont in the damp conditions before pitting, with a grid penalty resigning the Finn to the back of the grid regardless of his final qualifying result.

Also as a result of a grid penalty for a power unit change confirmed on Friday, Nico Hulkenberg opted not to run in Q2, instead saving some additional sets of tyres ahead of starting from the final row of the grid on Sunday.

Carlos Sainz Jr. was a surprise drop-out in Q1 as he struggled for grip on the Supersoft tyre in his Renault, leaving him 16th, three-tenths of a second shy of advancing to the next stage of qualifying.

Fernando Alonso struggled to his worst qualifying result of the season as he finished a lowly P17 for McLaren, with the team suffering its second double Q1 elimination of the season.

Alonso finished almost seven-tenths of a second off Gasly's time for 15th, while under-pressure teammate Stoffel Vandoorne qualified last of all, a further four-tenths of a second back. Both McLarens were split by the Williams duo of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll, who finished 18th and 19th respectively.

 

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