Lewis Hamilton has claimed his fourth pole position in a row

Lewis Hamilton has claimed his fourth – and probably most unexpected – pole position in a row with a sensational last-gasp lap in an enthralling qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix.

It had looked to most that Paul di Resta would claim his first career pole position after a well-timed Q3 qualifying run by his Force India team. The team delayed sending him out in the final session, giving the Scot a single run on the Intermediate tyres when everyone else opted to start the final session on slick tyres.

But the track dried up once again, giving the remaining nine runners a chance to usurp di Resta. Nico Rosberg was the first to show his hand, coming within half a second of di Resta on his first flying lap before claiming provisional pole on his second tour.

But Rosberg’s teammate Lewis Hamilton, along with the Red Bull Racing duo of Mark Webber Sebastian Vettel, were better positioned on the track, with each managing to better the German’s effort to bump him down to fourth, and ultimately it was Hamilton who prevailed to claim a most unexpected pole position.

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With di Resta bumped down to a still-excellent fifth, Jenson Button will share the third row with his compatriot after a solid performance for McLaren, while Lotus and Ferrari have a Noah’s Ark-style starting order from the fourth and fifth rows of the Spa-Francorchamps grid.

With the area’s microclimate playing centre stage once again to deliver fans an enthralling qualifying session, perhaps the biggest upset over the three sessions came from the very back of the grid, where both Marussias and one of the Caterhams managed to depose their far-more-fancied rivals and make it into the second phase of qualifying.

A late switch to dry-weather tyres proved the difference for Marussia duo Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton, plus Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde, giving all three an edge in pace to dump the much-fancied Toro Rosso pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Verge out of the first qualifying session. Also joining them on the sidelines were both Williams entries and Esteban Gutierrez in the Sauber.

2013 Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 2:01.012  
2. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 2:01.200 + 0.188
3. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 2:01.325 + 0.313
4. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 2:02.251 + 1.239
5. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 2:02.332 + 1.320
6. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 2:03.075 + 2.063
7. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 2:03.081 + 2.069
8. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 2:03.390 + 2.378
9. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 2:03.482 + 2.470
10. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 2:04.059 + 3.047
Q3 Cut-Off – 1:49.067   Time Gap*
11. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:49.088 + 0.792
12. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:49.103 + 0.807
13. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:49.304 + 1.008
14. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:52.036 + 3.740
15. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02 1:52.563 + 4.267
16. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02 1:52.762 + 4.466
Q2 Cut-Off – 2:02.948   Time Gap**
17. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 2:03.072 + 2.882
18. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 2:03.300 + 3.110
19. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 2:03.317 + 3.127
20. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 2:03.432 + 3.242
21. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 2:04.324 + 4.134
22. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 2:07.384 + 7.194

* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:48.296 by Kimi Räikkönen
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 2:00.190 by Fernando Alonso

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.