The king of qualifying

Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth consecutive pole position with a perfectly-timed lap in rollercoaster weather conditions in the final seconds of Saturday’s qualifying session for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

By (Agencies)

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Published: Mon 26 Aug 2013, 12:42 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:57 AM

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. — Getty Images

The 28-year-old, in his Mercedes, grabbed his fifth pole of the year and 31st of his career with a late lap that saw him clock a best lap in two minutes and 1.012 seconds. This came just a second after Mark Webber and his Red Bull teammate, defending world champion Sebastian Vettel, had gone successively fastest with laps of 2:01.325 and 2:01.200.

Hamilton’s lap delivered a final stunning moment of drama at the very end of a qualifying hour packed with incident and shocks as sweeping rain produced rapidly-changing conditions. Vettel, the series leader, wound up second ahead of Webber with Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg fourth. It brought Hamilton his seventh front row start of the season on a memorable afternoon from start to finish.

“It was a good job by the team,” said Hamilton, who is fourth overall, 44 points in arrears of Vettel.

“I was surprised when I came across the line. I went wide in Turn One and my dashboard told me I was three seconds down and then it was four seconds and then six.

“So I didn’t know what was going on, but I kept pushing. It’s a blessing I am up here. Generally I feel comfortable in changing conditions. I can find the limit and I pushed through the middle sector and really caned it,” added the 2008 world champion. Vettel admitted the conditions had tested all of the drivers. “It was a tricky session for all of us. When I was on the last lap, I didn’t know how the conditions were on the other side of the track,” said the German. “Lewis had a fantastic middle sector, I saw him catching up and thought ‘I could have gone quicker here and there’. It was a good result for myself. Everything is possible, we expect the rain to be as inconsistent as it was today.”

Webber, who is leaving Red Bull for sportscar racing with Porsche at the end of the year, said: “In the end, it was a good battle for pole.

“We were certainly challenging for that. As a drive, you don’t know what sort of lap you’re on until you cross the line in those conditions.”

In capricious Spa conditions, with the track drying out following a pre-session downpour, the first part of qualifying saw the Caterham and Marussia teams create a surprise after making an early switch from ‘wet’ tyres to intermediates.

This resulted in a dramatic final few minutes to Q1 that saw Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso fastest ahead of a rejuvenated Hamilton with, remarkably, Dutchman Guido van der Garde taking third for Caterham ahead of Rosberg.

Marussia also delivered a shock with Jules Bianchi 11th and Max Chilton 16th, his first experience of progressing. Out went luckless Jean-Eric Vergne, who had been fast in dry conditions, and his Toro Rosso teammate Daniel Ricciardo — the man tipped to be switching to Red Bull alongside Vettel next year.


Qualifying times from the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps on Saturday:

Session 3

1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 2:01.012, 2. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull-Renault 2:01.200, 3. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull-Renault 2:01.325, 4. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 2:02.251, 5. Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India-Mercedes 2:02.332, 6. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren-Mercedes 2:03.075, 7. Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus-Renault 2:03.081, 8. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus-Renault 2:03.390, 9. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 2:03.482, 10. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 2:04.059

Session 2

1. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus-Renault 1min 48.296sec (Q), 2. Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 1:48.309 (Q), 3. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 1:48.552 (Q), 4. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull-Renault 1:48.641 (Q), 5. Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.641 (Q), 6. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull-Renault 1:48.646 (Q), 7. Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus-Renault 1:48.649 (Q), 8. Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India-Mercedes 1:48.925 (Q), 9. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 1:49.020 (Q), 10. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1:49.067 (Q)


Grid for Sunday’s Formula One Belgian Grand Prix following qualifying on Saturday:

1st row

Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)

Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)

2nd row

Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)

Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)

3rd row

Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes)

Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)

4th row

Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault)

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus-Renault)

5th row

Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)

Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)

6th row

Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Sauber-Ferrari)

Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes)

7th row

Sergio Perez (MEX/McLaren-Mercedes)

GVD Garde (NED/Caterham-Renault)

8th row

Jules Bianchi (FRA/Marussia-Cosworth)

Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia-Cosworth)

9th row

P Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault)

JE Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

10th row

D Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

V Bottas (FIN/Williams-Renault)

11th row

E Gutierrez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari)

Charles Pic (FRA/Caterham-Renault)

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