Unleashed Hamilton flies to Spa-Francorchamps pole position

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

Lewis Hamilton mightily impressed during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, with a completely turned up Mercedes engine powering him to an impressive lap record. Sebastian Vettel stranded with the second fastest time, ahead of Bottas and Raikkonen.

Under sunny skies, Lewis Hamilton was the first to set a timed lap, followed by Bottas, Raikkonen and Vettel. All four used the supersoft compound tyres. Vettel emerged fastest after these early quick laps, ahead of Hamilton and Raikkonen. The latter notably complained of tyre vibrations, triggering him to stop, even though his Ferrari engineers were still in the dark of what was going on.

Williams were out early as well, but they predictably opted for the ultrasofts immediately.

Red Bull saw their drivers position themselves in third and 6th using the ultra softs, while McLaren's Vandoorne and Alonso initially took positions 7 and 8. Both Renaults and Force Indias would later push the Mclaren's down to 10th and 12th respectively.

In the dying minutes, Massa improved, but was later eliminated by another improvement by Sainz. This saw both Williams eliminated at a power track, likely another major disappointment for the team.

McLaren meanwhile had an interesting strategy, with Vandoorne first helping Alonso with a tow on the Kemmel straight, This saw Alonso improve to become a tenth faster than Alonso, until Vandoorne himself improved to 10th. The tactic is obviously the result of Vandoorne having to start last due to engine penalties anyway.

In Q2, Hamilton was once again the first man out on track. His lap of 1:43.539 was immediately good for a new track record that was not broken by the subsequent times recorded by Raikkonen, Bottas and Vettel. Verstappen later positioned himself in fourth, with Ricciardo 6th.

Palmer meanwhile continued to impress by going 7th fastest on his first quick lap in Q2, nearly 3 tenths fastest than his usually faster team mate, Nico Hulkenberg. When returning to the pits however, he suffered a car issue that required his mechanics to push him through the pitlane and into the box.

Two minutes later, Vandoorne does another great job to pull Alonso into his slipstream. Alonso was well on target to make it into the top 10, until reporting "no power!" at Blanchimont, forcing the Spaniard to pull into the pitlane to abandon his lap. Clearly frustrated, he ran into the back of the garages, following which his fysio held the following camera back. Alonso meanwhile dropped to 11th and out of the top 10 as Hulkenberg improved to 9th.

At the start of Q3, when the top contenders just starting their flying laps, Jolyon Palmer parked his car following an Renault engine failure. The bad luck for him is getting really silly, and especially painful here given his qualifying performance thus far.

Hamilton didn't care much at all, and went out to improve his own track record yet again by completing a lap around Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in 1:42.907, more than three tenths faster than Raikkonen. Bottas was more than 4 tenths down, and Vettel 0.519s.

One attempt later, Hamilton improved another 4 tenths, down to 1:42.553. Bottas improved as well, but saw Vettel move up into second place later again.

Kimi Raikkonen, who continued to complain of vibrations on the left hand side of his car had a scruffy second sector and abandoned his lap, settling for 4th after having outclassed Vettel in the better part of the earlier running this weekend.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:44.1841:42.9271:42.55318
25Sebastian VettelFerrari1:44.2751:43.9871:42.79513
377Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:44.7731:43.2491:43.09419
47Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:44.7291:43.7001:43.27011
533Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:44.5351:43.9401:43.38012
63Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:45.1141:44.2241:43.86312
727Nico HulkenbergRenault1:45.2801:44.9881:44.98215
811Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:45.5911:44.8941:45.24414
931Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:45.2771:45.0061:45.36914
1030Jolyon PalmerRenault1:45.4471:44.685-10
1114Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:45.6681:45.090-11
128Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:45.7281:45.133-12
1320Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:45.5351:45.400-12
1455Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:45.3741:45.439-12
152Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:45.441--11
1619Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:45.823--7
1726Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1:46.028--6
1818Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:46.915--5
199Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:47.214--6
2094Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:47.679--6