Hamilton takes sensational pole in typical Spa weather

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit De Spa-Francorchampsbe

Lewis Hamilton has taken a sensational pole position in continuously changing weather, crucially setting his time as the last man on a drying track. Sebastian Vettel is second, ahead of his teammate Mark Webber.

In good Spa-Francorchamps fashion, after a dry morning, rain started to fall 10 minutes ahead of qualifying, creating a fairly wet track that required everyone to out on intermediates. The rain soon started to ease off though and times were tumbling quickly, from 2:09 in the beginning of the session to 2:04 after 12 minutes.

Many drivers are cotninuing for a long time on their original intermediates, up to the moment that the track looks nearly dry enough to have dry tyres. The choice is rather tricky though.

Max Chilton in the Marussia and Giedo van der Garde are the first to go out on the medium slick tyres. Spray by now is nearly non existant around most of the track, as long as the drivers are staying on the drying line. The top runners are waiting to see how things are going before making their own choice.

3 minutes from the end of Q1, the best times, all on inters, are Maldonado, Rosberg, Gutierrez, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Raikkonen, Vettel, Perez, Webber, Ricciardo, Button, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Vergne, Sutil, Buttas, Di Resta, Bianchi, Pic, Van der Garde and Chilton.

Maldonado did choose for new inters that put him into first place. The new intermediates are delivering and most top drivers are on the intermediate tyres. As times continued to fall, the slicks switched on as well, making it an interesting gamble for Chilton and van der Garde.

In the closing minute, Di Resta went off in busstop while others continued to improve their times on the intermediates. Interstingly, van der Garde was one of the last to cross the finish line and managed to set the third fastest time, showing that the slick gamble was the right one. Chilton also made it through, knocking out Maldonado, Vergne, Ricciardo, Bottas, Gutierrez and Pic.

With the slick tyres now proven to be the right choice, Q2 gets off to a start with Webber going out on the harder tyre. Raikkonen is immediately on the soft while both Ferrari's also opt for the harder tyre.

Halfway into the session, Raikkonen is on top of the timesheet, ahead of Grosjean who is also on the softer tyre. Webber is third, Alonso 4th and Di Resta 5th. The only drivers not having set a time at this point are Rosberg, Hamilton and Vettel, a risky option seeing dark clouds still above and around the circuit.

In the final minutes, everybody is on track on the medium tyres, knowing that times are improving. 40s from the end this results in Alonso topping Webber, Vettel and Hulkenberg.

The final minute sees more improvements, with Raikkonen setting the fastest time. Grosjean, Rosberg, Button and Massa also made sure they got through, meaning that Hulkenberg is eliminated in the end, along with Sutil, Perez, van der Garde, Bianchi and Chilton. Van der Garde was clearly happy with this result, while Marussia can also be satisfied to have made it through to Q2 with both cars.

With rain coming back, everybody is queuing up at the end of the pitlane, with everybody on mediums, except for Di Resta on intermediates. As everybody soon discovered it was getting too wet and went back in for inters, Di Resta only had to make sure not to make mistakes and had pole in his hands a few minutes later.

Massa was quickly back on track after Ferrari did a regular pitstop for him, making him the second man on track on intermediates, setting a time 1.7s slower than Di Resta.

2 minutes from end the end though, rain stopped and the track dried rapidly again, allowing the intermediate runners to still have a go for pole position. An unbelievable turnaround saw Hamilton cross the line last and managed to take pole, topping Vettel and Webber who crossed the line just ahead of him. All others had one lap less and we no challenge in the end.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamQ1Q2Q3Laps
110Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG2:00.3681:49.0672:01.01222
21Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault2:01.8631:48.6462:01.20019
32Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault2:01.5971:48.6412:01.32520
49Nico RosbergMercedes AMG2:01.0991:48.5522:02.25120
514Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes2:02.3381:48.9252:02.33222
65Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes2:01.3011:48.6412:03.07521
78Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault2:02.4761:48.6492:03.08122
87Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault2:01.1511:48.2962:03.39022
93Fernando AlonsoFerrari2:00.1901:48.3092:03.48221
104Felipe MassaFerrari2:01.4621:49.0202:04.05921
1111Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari2:01.7121:49.088-17
1215Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes2:02.7491:49.103-17
136Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes2:02.4251:49.304-16
1421Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault2:00.5641:52.036-15
1522Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth2:02.1101:52.563-16
1623Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth2:02.9481:52.762-17
1716Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault2:03.072--10
1818Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari2:03.300--10
1919Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari2:03.317--10
2017Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault2:03.432--10
2112Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari2:04.324--10
2220Charles PicCaterham-Renault2:07.384--8


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