Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 poles in Belgium

After Kimi Raikkonen topped FP1 and FP3 and Lewis Hamilton topped FP2, both Ferrari and Mercedes were looking evenly matched going into qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton equals Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 poles in Belgium

Qualifying 1

In the first part of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton set the pace for Mercedes while Sebastian Vettel followed hot on his heels for Ferrari in second. Five drivers were eliminated from Q1, narrowing the field to only 15 drivers for Q2. After crashing out in FP1 and having no running in FP2, it was perhaps unsurprising that Felipe Massa was knocked out in Q1, being only 16th fastest. A five place grid penalty however, demotes him further down the grid. Daniil Kvyat was also knocked out for Toro Rosso, being in between a Williams sandwich with Lance Stroll next up in 18th. The Sauber pair of Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein rounded out the first part of qualifying, heading up the field in 19th and 20th.

Qualifying 2

In the second part of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton continued his showing off pace to set a new lap record around Spa with a 1:42.927, 0.322 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas who was his nearest challenger. Another five drivers were eliminated from Q2 to narrow the field to only ten drivers for Q3. Fernando Alonso just missed out on a Q3 appearance for McLaren, being 11th fastest and less than one tenth away from the top ten. Romain Grosjean was next up in 12th, leading his team mate Kevin Magnussen who was 13th fastest in the second Haas. Carlos Sainz Jr had the slowest classified lap time of the session, leaving him 14th fastest, while Stoffel Vandoorne did not set a lap due to having a 65 place grid penalty. This left the Belgian in 15th.

Qualifying 3

Heading into the final session of qualifying, Lewis Hamilton looked like the driver to beat after setting the pace in Q1 and Q2. When the pit lane went green, there were 12 minutes on the clock for the final ten drivers to set the fastest lap that they could. Immediately the yellow flags waved however, as Jolyon Palmer ground to a halt out on track following a drop in gearbox oil pressure, ending his day prematurely.

Hamilton set the early pace and took provisional pole with his first lap while Kimi Raikkonen was the filling in a Mercedes sandwich, second fastest, ahead of Valtteri Bottas who was third. With five minutes remaining, the drivers took to the track to their final lap of pole and there wasn’t anyone who was able to challenge Hamilton for pole. A Mercedes front row lockout looked impenetrable until Sebastian Vettel was able to slot his Ferrari into second place as the checkered flag waved, meaning that he starts alongside Hamilton for Sunday’s race.

Valtteri Bottas qualified in third place in the second Mercedes to head up an all-Finnish second row, with Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in fourth. It was an all-Red Bull third row, with Max Verstappen getting the jump on Daniel Ricciardo, qualifying in fifth and sixth. Nico Hulkenberg qualified in seventh for Renault while Sergio Perez put his Force India into eighth, ahead of Esteban Ocon who was ninth fastest and Jolyon Palmer who rounded out the session in tenth having been unable to complete a lap.

With both Hamilton and Vettel starting on the front row for the Belgian Grand Prix, Sunday’s race is set to be an exciting battle for the win. With Hamilton having a 14 point deficit to Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship, it is vital for the Briton to secure the win this weekend if he wants to apply the pressure back on Vettel with nine races remaining this season.

Qualifying results for the Belgian Grand Prix:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:42.553
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:42.795
  3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:43.094
  4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:43.270
  5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1:43.380
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 1:43.863
  7. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:44.982
  8. Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:45.244
  9. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1:45.369
  10. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, No time
  11. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:45.090 (Q2)
  12. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 1:45.133 (Q2)
  13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, F1, 1:45.400 (Q2)
  14. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1:45.439 (Q2)
  15. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, No time (Q2)
  16. Felipe Massa, Williams, 1:45.823 (Q1)
  17. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:46.028 (Q1)
  18. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:46.915 (Q1)
  19. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:47.214 (Q1)
  20. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber, 1:47.679 (Q1)

Main Photo
Embed from Getty Images