The 2018 Belgian Grand Prix will see unusual front rows, as the typical Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel duo will be completed with the Force India drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez in the second row behind them. No pun intended, it was a perfect storm of events which lead the Force India team to a second row lockout as last-minute rain saw teams scrambling in Q3. Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg were issued penalties for Sunday for Power Units, leaving the door open for two drivers to move up in the timing sheet. As Hamilton is known for doing, he prospered in the wet conditions.
Lewis Hamilton Gets Pole Position Under Wet Conditions
The Start Of The Session
Saturday’s session started with a 15 degrees C temperature in the air and a 28 degrees C temperature on the track. While the rain did not come down at the start of the session, it appeared eventually. The three slick tyres eligible for this session were the Medium, Soft and Supersoft tyres, of course with the rain tyres available if they were needed.
In Q1 there was a last minute elimination as Marcus Ericsson improved his time, pushing Renault driver Carlos Sainz into the dropzone with the two McLaren and Williams drivers. “I have no rear grip, it’s incredible,” said Sainz during his cooldown lap.
Q2 And What It Brought
Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas have been pushed to the back of the pack on Sunday due to new power units, although they both made it through to Q2. Hulkenberg did not put in a Q2 lap while Bottas made it through to Q3, possibly in an attempt to help out Hamilton. Charles Leclerc complained on his team radio that sector 2 was a little dark. Brendon Hartley went for a spin but did not make contact with anything or anyone. Hartley joined his teammate Pierre Gasly, both Saubers and a stray Renault in the group of drivers who were eliminated in Q2.
An Unusual Grid After A Rainy Q3
The remaining 10 drivers were thrown a curve ball as Q3 started, with rain starting to come down during their outlap. Most drivers pitted nearly immediately to switch tyres. Bottas went for a very fast spin but walked away from it clean.
As Hamilton went back out, Bottas went back to the pits and retired from the session. Hamilton’s first real flying lap was ruined by going very wide on a turn, giving him one real shot at pole position left. He then clocked in a 1:58.179s to secure the first place on the grid. Vettel came in second with a 1:58.905s while the two Force India cars made the second row. Kimi Raikkonen came in all the way in 6th, with a row of Red Bull cars starting behind him. It will be a very interesting weekend with Hamilton and Vettel without their usual support, and a great opportunity for the two Force India drivers.
Full Qualifying Timing
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