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