Belgian GP: Hamilton stars to beat Rosberg, disaster for Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton scored his 10th pole of the season – his sixth in a row – in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, almost half a second faster than Nico Rosberg.

Despite being beaten by Rosberg in practice on Friday, Hamilton appeared to possess a solid advantage as practice and qualifying progressed today. He scored his 48 career pole with relative ease.

But it was a horrendous day for Ferrari, as Sebastian Vettel only qualified ninth and Kimi Raikkonen didn’t even complete a flying lap in Q2 after an apparent power unit problem stranded him out on track. 

Story of Q3

Hamilton’s opening gambit was a 1m47.449s, and Rosberg was only able to manage a 1m47.895s, losing three tenths in the middle sector alone and 0.446s overall.

Rosberg’s scruffy lap included a big moment at Stavelot, when he took too much kerb on the inside and slid wide.

Hamilton then banged in a 1m47.197s to put the pole position issue beyond doubt, with Rosberg 0.458s behind on 1m47.655s. Rosberg reported his car balance “came together much better” on his second run, after complaining of oversteer on his first.

Williams’s Valtteri Bottas (1m48.537s) was third fastest, ahead of the impressive Romain Grosjean of Lotus, who qualified fourth but has a five-place grid penalty.

Force India’s Sergio Perez was equally striking, qualifying fifth ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Felipe Massa was seventh, ahead of the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado and a surprisingly tardy Sebastian Vettel – as Ferrari suffered a wretched day. Carlos Sainz will start tenth in his Toro Rosso. 

Story of Q2

Rosberg broke the 1m47s barrier on 1m47.955s, with Hamilton on 1m48.024s.

The big news of this session was Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari expiring on his first run with some horrible clunking noises coming from his car: “Something broke,” he said on the radio, adding later: “I lost drive, I felt I had to stop.”

That caused a brief red flag while his car was removed from the track at Stavelot, and Ferrari reported a drop in oil pressure.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen didn’t run in Q2 to save tyres for the race due to his 10-place engine-change grid penalty, and had hit engine issues in Q1 anyway (see below).

That meant only three more cars would fail to make the top-10 shootout, and they were a couple of surprises: Nico Hulkenberg of Force India – who was deposed by Sainz in the closing seconds after a big error at La Source – as well as Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson also failed to make it.

Story of Q1

Mercedes was able to save a set of softs in Q1, after Rosberg set 1m49.489s and Hamilton was just 0.079s slower on mediums on their first run. Hamilton then improved to 1m48.908s to top the session on another set of mediums, with Rosberg this time just 0.015s slower.

Everyone else ran softs, with Sergio Perez’s Force India the fastest of those but still unable to break into the 1m48s bracket.

Those knocked out at the first hurdle were Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, the McLarens of Jenson Button (“The best lap I’ve done for a long time”) and Fernando Alonso, plus the Manors of Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.

The great escape of the session was Verstappen in his Toro Rosso, who scraped into Q2 in 15th: “Losing power, there is something wrong,” he said during his final run.

Grid penalties to be applied

With a staggering 120 places of grid penalties already reported by race stewards (Grosjean 5, Verstappen 10, Alonso 55 and Button 50), it’s fair to say the grid won’t totally reflect the qualifying times…

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 01:47.197
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 01:47.655
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams 01:48.537
4 Romain Grosjean Lotus 01:48.561
5 Sergio Perez Force India 01:48.599
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 01:48.639
7 Felipe Massa Williams 01:48.685
8 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 01:48.754
9 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 01:48.825
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso 01:49.771
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 01:49.121
12 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 01:49.228
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 01:49.586
14 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari  
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber 01:49.952
16 Will Stevens Marussia 01:52.948
17 Roberto Merhi Marussia 01:53.099
18 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso  
19 Jenson Button McLaren 01:50.978
20 Fernando Alonso McLaren 01:51.420
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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Belgian GP
Track Spa-Francorchamps
Article type Qualifying report