Charles Leclerc dominated qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, eventually taking pole position by 7 tenths over the competition. Sebastian Vettel was second fastest to make it a Ferrari front row for Sunday's race at Spa-Francorchamps.
The session kicked off with Kubica, as always, rapidly out on track. This time, it didn't last long, as, on his flying lap, the new specification Mercedes engine blew spectacularly. In the uphill full-throttle section at Blanchimont, the engine first puffed out blue smoke, before it became a big cloud of white mist.
As Kubica parked his car just 3 minutes into the session, it was quickly decided to stop qualifying until the car was cleared, something which involved a total delay of around 10 minutes.
The consequence of this event was that many drivers ended up queuing in the pitlane to get going again, with Max Verstappen among the first back out on the track. It soon emerged why, as his first flying lap was poor, likely because he reported: "same problem" at Pouhon. The Dutchman returned to the pits, and once back out, managed to secure a place in Q2, despite having to navigate through a lot of traffic.
In the meantime, Ferrari had once again gone fastest. Bottas and Hamilton put themselves in third and fourth, nearly 1.5s slower than what the Ferraris managed this early in qualifying. For Hamilton especially, this was likely a big relief, given his mechanics had been working hard to get his car sorted after his FP3 crash. They surely won't have been unhappy about that delay caused by Williams's Kubica.
Then, one minute from the end of Q1, Giovinazzi blew up his own new Ferrari engine as he powered out of the La Source hairpin. His qualifying was done as well, but the red flag with 48s left on the clock meant it was the end anyway. Along with both Toro Rosso and the Williams cars, Carlos Sainz as such became a surprise 17th. He might take some solace from the fact that some drivers will get engine penalties that will move himself up the grid.
Q2 was more straight forward, but again with Ferrari ahead, followed by the Mercedes duo. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were 5th and 6th fastest, just like in FP3.
In the closing stages, only Nico Hulkenberg managed to make serious progress, securing himself to go through to Q3 by going 8th fastest.
For Q3, Raikkonen was first in line to start his first flying lap, followed by Magnussen. The warm-up lap from the main pole contenders ended up a strange event, with nobody willing to be ahead of the pack. To avoid getting forced upfront, Ricciardo slowed down, along with the Mercedes and Ferraris behind, up to the point where they suddenly had to move aside as Raikkonen was already coming up in his flying lap. In fact, in that event, Hamilton came close to hitting the rear of Bottas, while some 500m further, it was Bottas who almost ran into the back of Ricciardo.
Despite the antics, Leclerc emerged fastest, 6 tenths up on Hamilton, and 8 tenths up on Vettel's first effort. Bottas was 4th and still within a second of Leclerc while Verstappen and Ricciardo were more than 1.5s down.
The result of that extremely slow out-lap also meant that the in-lap had to be fairly quick, given the turnaround time for the second flyer was going to be short.
For the second lap, there were similar problems, as Vettel first passed Hamilton at Kemmel, followed by Hamilton returning the favour just ahead of the final chicane.
Vettel eventually managed to improve to second, making it an all-Ferrari front row. Mercedes's cars will make up for the second line on the starting grid, followed by Verstappen and both Renaults.
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:44.622||1:44.132||1:43.690||16|
|8||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:45.842||1:44.140||1:44.557||18|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Bwt Mercedes||1:45.732||1:44.707||1:44.706||18|
|10||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:45.839||1:44.738||1:45.086||18|
|11||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:45.694||1:44.797||-||12|
|12||4||Lando Norris||McLaren Renault||1:46.154||1:44.847||-||12|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point Bwt Mercedes||1:46.000||1:45.047||-||8|
|14||23||Alexander Albon||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:45.528||1:45.799||-||8|
|15||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||1:45.637||-||-||7|
|16||10||Pierre Gasly||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:46.435||-||-||5|
|17||55||Carlos Sainz||McLaren Renault||1:46.507||-||-||6|
|18||26||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda||1:46.518||-||-||4|
|19||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:47.548||-||-||6|
|RT||88||Robert Kubica||Williams Mercedes||-||-||-||2|