Lewis Hamilton took a last-gasp pole position for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix in a qualifying session that veered between wet and dry conditions, after narrowly avoiding missing the cut in Q2.
The Briton was last across the line and took full advantage of a drying track in Q3, denying fellow Brit Paul Di Resta his first F1 pole position – the Scot had made the brave decision to opt for intermediate tyres at the start of the final session as the rain began to come down while his rivals made the wrong call and went for slicks.
It wasn’t only Q3 that provided the excitement, with Q1 seeing both Williams and Toro Rosso cars eliminated as the Marussia duo of Max Chilton and Jules Bianchi joined Caterham’s Giedo Van Der Garde in the 2nd qualifying session.
Sergio Perez was the high-profile casualty of Q2, while Hamilton dropped to 10th in the dying minutes after his final lap of the session brought him dangerously close to the feared elimination. Equally in Q3 the Mercedes driver seemed out of sorts as the rain fell, but managed to be last across the line in order to get a 2nd timed lap; only Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel also managed the feat.
Di Resta’s provisional pole was snatched by Nico Rosberg with mere seconds left on the clock, but even as the timer clicked over to zero the stressful wait wasn’t over for the Force India man who was bidding for his team’s 2nd pole at the circuit after Giancarlo Fisichella’s 2009 success. Jenson Button popped his McLaren into a temporary 3rd place, but was quickly demoted as Webber seized pole. He in turn was denied by Vettel, who came unstuck seconds later as Hamilton made the most of the drying circuit to take his 5th pole of the season.
“We were fortunate Lewis was the last to cross the line” said Mercedes Team Principal Ross Brawn.
“When we saw his time in sector two we started to get excited.”
“The team did a great job to get the timing at the end of Q3 absolutely perfect and I was in exactly the right track position. I was so surprised when I came across the line to hear I was P1.” Lewis Hamilton
“It’s a shame that the rain stopped a bit too early because there were only a few cars that were quicker than us in the wet and they just got ahead at the end of the session. The main thing is we are in a strong position for tomorrow and we will come back tomorrow ready to fight.” Paul Di Resta
“In the dry we were relatively happy with our pace, and in the wet I reckon it was a bit better still. I think P6 for us was an okay outcome, therefore. However, we’re still lacking a little bit compared with what we’d hoped for here, which shortfall we suspect is the result of an aero efficiency issue.” Jenson Button
“The engineers put the decision in my hands and I was undecided until the final corner, when I just made a judgment call in an instant and opted to stay out. I’m happy to say it was the right call and we went on to enjoy a strong Q2, when my time was pretty pleasing given that on my final run I was fuelled for two timed laps. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s race now, rain or shine.” Max Chilton
CLASSIFICATION – QUALIFYING – BELGIAN GP
|5||Di Resta||Force India||2:02:332|
|14||Van Der Garde||Caterham||1:52:036|