Pole for the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix secured by Lewis Hamilton.
As Ferrari celebrate their 900th Grand Prix in the Ardennes Forest, Hamilton topped the quali time sheet to take pole position for the 48th world championship Belgian Grand Prix. Ferrari’s big day will not be starting from a strong position after a qualifying for the Italian team. But Hamilton’s success saw him claim two new career accolades.
Rosberg had a strong opening to the weekend with the best time for both first and second free practice. Hamilton however later gained the advantage over his team-mate by taking a commanding lead in the final free practice session, while prepping for qualifying.
McLaren where at the other end of the scale with the Woking based team struggling again despite bringing new, upgraded Honda power units to the weekend. With the new engines, they will no matter what start at the back of the grid due to the humongous penalties they have incurred.
As for the teams and drivers competing to get through the opening stage, Bottas broke the silence before going on to set his first competitive time of the weekend. His time was later pushed down the order by both Mercedes drivers as they created a comfortable gap to the field.
When the field returned to the track on the soft tyres, only the Mercedes duo had stayed out on the mediums. This soon looked like it could cause the championship leaders an issue as the times began to drop more and more.
Ferrari, Lotus and Force India initially rocketed above Lewis with the soft tyres playing to their hand. But Hamilton and Rosberg ensured they would be safe by flying back into the top spots despite being on the slower tyres.
As the flag fell, Verstappen reported a loss of power in his Toro Rosso that could have seen him eliminated from Q1 but he kept pushing and just managed to do enough to beat the drop.
Sainz, Bottas and the McLaren’s were also fighting for survival and a look at Q2 but in the end McLaren fell far from the mark. Sainz and Bottas also rocketed up the leaderboard at the death but Williams left it very late for Valtteri to claim survival as the last man across the line.
Incidentally Bottas broke the silence for Q2 as the first man to hit the track right as the light went green. The Finn’s opening time was however slightly slower than Massa’s when his team-mate crossed the line. But both Williams’ were far from Mercedes’ opening pace when Hamilton and Rosberg crossed the line on the softs to go 1.6 seconds clear.
Soon after the Silver Arrows crossed the line, both Force India’s also moved ahead of the Williams pair while also being over a second off Hamilton’s time in second. But before anyone could improve and the other drivers could set their first Q2 times, Raikkonen stopped on track just before Stavelot and brought out the red flag.
As Kimi made his way through the middle sector, his gearbox stuck in fifth gear causing his car to sound dreadful as it slowed to a halt. While his Ferrari was cleared from the track, Max Verstappen was climbing out of his Toro Rosso in the garage but not because of the power loss from Q1. Instead the team opted to save tyres as Max has a 10-place grid penalty.
It did not take long for the track to be clear as Kimi stopped near an opening, but the track remained quiet for a little longer. Eventually the fight for survival kicked in with Maldonado moving up the order.
Force India’s Perez and Hulkenberg soon put in their flying lap times to move up the order. Hulkenberg however failed to do enough to beat the drop after a lock up at turn one cost him a Q3 appearance. In the end, he missed out by a few hundredths of a second to Carlos Sainz as he crept into the top 10 after the flag waved.
While Sainz made it into the top 10 shoot-out, Kvyat and Ericsson joined Hulkenberg in the elimination zone with poor times keeping them back and out of qualifying.
For the first runs of Q3, Hamilton hit the track first of the Mercedes drivers with fresh soft tyres on the car. When Rosberg later crossed the line, he could only claim second place by four tenths of a second after Lewis set a blistering provisional lap.
Bottas and Massa for a change came home best of the rest as Vettel could only manage sixth place in the sole remaining Ferrari. Ricciardo in the only Red Bull left standing split the teams, with Lotus seventh and eighth.
For the final run and the final chance to snatch pole position, the Williams duo hit the track first. Bottas however could not capitalise on his clean air by much and could only better his earlier lap time by one tenth of a second.
Grosjean soon crossed the line for fourth, with a time that would have bettered Valtteri’s earlier time. Perez, Maldonado and Massa also soon tucked in behind but in the battle for pole, Hamilton stormed further away with a time that Rosberg could only get within four and a half tenths of.
But while Rosberg claimed second, clear of Bottas but far from Hamilton, Q3 saw Vettel struggle and end the session down in ninth place. The only man behind Ferrari’s German was Sainz who did not set a Q3 time.
The strong straight line speed of the Force India allowed them to claim fifth place behind the Mercedes’, Bottas and Grosjean as Mercedes power claimed the top five in quali and seven of the top 10.
Hamilton’s pole position today gives him two new accolades to his career as he will now take the 2015 pole position trophy despite this only being the 11th round of the championship. Lewis also set a new career record for runs of pole position with six in a row. The first to do so since Michael Schumacher back in 2000/01.
|10||Sainz||No time set|
|14||Raikkonen||No time set|
|15||Verstappen||No time set|