Hamilton takes pole as Mercedes dominates again

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

Mercedes was once again in a league of its own in the qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton smashing the previous Spa track record to head a one-two for his team.

Ferrari almost out - Q1

Haas driver were the first to hit the track as they were still trying to make up for the lost Friday practice sessions. Romain Grosjean set a time of 1m45.073 to go 0.304 faster than his team mate Kevin Magnussen.

However, the American team’s lead did not last long as Mercedes posted shocking times with Hamilton registering a 1m42.323 to go over eight tenths of a second than the rest of the field. Valtteri Bottas came in second with his flying lap, highlighting Mercedes’ utter dominance.

The biggest question was whether Ferrari drivers could get themselves through into Q2. In the end, they succeeded with Vettel posting the 13th, Leclerc the 15th fastest time to narrowly survive the first qualifying segment.

Kimi Räikkönen, Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi, Nicholas Latifi and Kevin Magnussen were eliminated at the end of the first qualifying session.

Ferrari eliminated - Q2

Mercedes used their superiority and sent its drivers on the Yellow medium compound to give them a better starting tyre for the 44-lap race. Verstappen did the same with his RB16.

The Racing Point drivers tried to mimic the fastest trio, using the medium compound to start the race on the supposedly better race tyres. However, neither Lance Stroll nor Sergio Perez managed to get themselves through to Q3, meaning that they needed to go out for a second time on the soft compound.

Despite being in no danger, the Mercedes duo and Max Verstappen rolled out on to the track on a new set of soft compound to prepare themselves for the all-important Q3 session. As per regulation, drivers need to start the race on the set of tyres with which they set their best time in Q2, so Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen all abandoned their hot laps at the last chicane.

Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc, Sebastian Vettel and George Russell were out at the end of the second qualifying segment.

Mercedes unbeatable again - Q3

With his first flying lap, Hamilton showed that there is no real chance for his team mate to stay in contention for the pole position. In the end, the Briton posted a 1m41.252, smashing the previous track record around Spa. Bottas completed the Mercedes front row, albeit Max Verstappen was only 0.015s slower than the Finn driver.

Daniel Ricciardo confirmed Renault’s speed on the fast Spa track, securing the fourth position on the grid for tomorrow’s grand prix. McLaren completed a successful qualifying session by getting both its cars into Q3.

Although Alex Albon set the fifth fastest lap, he was just under half a second off the best lap time of his team mate Verstappen. The Racing Point duo of Perez and Stroll ended up 8th and 9th fastest respectively.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:42.3231:42.0141:41.25215
277Valtteri BottasMERCEDES1:42.5341:42.1261:41.76317
333Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA1:43.1971:42.4731:41.77817
43Daniel RicciardoRENAULT1:43.3091:42.4871:42.06111
523Alexander AlbonRED BULL RACING HONDA1:43.4181:42.1931:42.26415
631Esteban OconRENAULT1:43.5051:42.5341:42.39615
755Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT1:43.3221:42.4781:42.43815
811Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:43.3491:42.6701:42.53215
918Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES1:43.2651:42.4911:42.60315
104Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT1:43.5141:42.7221:42.65717
1126Daniil KvyatALPHATAURI HONDA1:43.2671:42.73012
1210Pierre GaslyALPHATAURI HONDA1:43.2621:42.74512
1316Charles LeclercFERRARI1:43.6561:42.99612
145Sebastian VettelFERRARI1:43.5671:43.26112
1563George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:43.6301:43.46811
167Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:43.7436
178Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI1:43.8386
1899Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI1:43.9506
196Nicholas LatifiWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:44.1386
2020Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:44.3148