Hamilton storms to pole in a rainy Q3 session

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

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix when rain hit the track. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel secured second place while Force India’s Esteban Ocon took a surprise third place.

Kimi Räikkönen took the lead in the first qualifying segment on Pirelli’s soft tyres. With multiple laps, Lewis Hamilton was third fastest while Sebastian Vettel’s time was enough to the fourth place. They all completed the first qualifying segment on softs while Valtteri Bottas slotted in second on the red-stiped supersoft compound.

Interestingly, both McLaren-Renault cars said farewell after the first session, Fernando Alonso secured the 17th place while his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne ended dead last on home soil. Williams drivers Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll slotted into the two McLarens.

In the second qualifying session, Kimi Räikkönen, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were all separated by just thousands of a second which indicated that Mercedes and Ferrari were almost equal on pace.

After promising showing in Q1, Sauber drivers Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson failed to repeat their best time and ended up 13th and 14th fastest.

Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg managed to get into the second session, but abandoned his running after that to save up tyres for tomorrow’s race. The German will start the Belgian GP from the last position after multiple PU elements changes.

The heavens opened before the green light signalled the start of the last qualifying segment. Still, drivers rolled out onto the track on supersoft tyres in the hope that they can complete one flying lap before the track gets too damp. Valtteri Bottas led the field, but when the Finn span on his out lap, most of the drivers dived into the pit for intermediate tyres.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were rolled back into their garages which enabled their teams to fill up their cars with fuel for a longer run. In contrast, Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen made a quick pit stop. The Finn was flying early on, but he had to end his running when he ran out of fuel. The track was continuously drying up which saw Räikkönen falling back the order.

In the dying seconds, Hamilton took pole in front of Vettel while Force India locked out the second row. Haas Ferrari’s Romain Grosjean took fifth place and Räikkönen secured sixth place with his early lap and without any real chance on the drying asphalt.

The qualifying turned out to be the third consecutive dramatic session after as during the German GP and the Hungarian GP’s qualifying, rain favoured Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton once again against the horrendously quick Ferraris.

It is also worth noting that Mercedes wanted to use Valtteri Bottas to help his team-mate Hamilton to secure the pole position. When starting from the back of field, drivers usually take part only in the first qualifying segment in order to pile up fresh sets of tyres. However, Bottas, with limited running though, participated in all qualifying sessions and formed a train with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton when exiting the pit lane in Q3 to prepare himself for giving a tow to the Briton. The rain and Bottas’s spin on the out lap, however, made any tow game needless.

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:42.9771:41.5531:58.17919
25Sebastian VettelFerrari1:43.0351:41.5011:58.90518
331Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:44.0031:43.3022:01.85116
411Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:44.0041:43.0142:01.89414
58Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:43.5971:43.0422:02.12220
67Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:42.5851:41.5332:02.67113
733Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:43.1991:42.5542:02.76911
83Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:43.6041:43.1262:02.93916
920Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:43.8341:43.3202:04.93319
1077Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:42.8051:42.191DNS7
1110Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:44.2211:43.844-14
1228Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:44.1531:43.865-13
1316Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari1:43.6541:44.062-14
149Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:43.8461:44.301-11
1527Nico HulkenbergRenault1:44.145--3
1655Carlos SainzRenault1:44.489--6
1714Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault1:44.917--6
1835Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes1:44.998--6
1918Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:45.134--6
202Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Renault1:45.307--8