Lewis Hamilton Takes Advantage of Rain for Belgian Grand Prix Pole
Rain is the name of Hamilton's game, and it let him take a record 78th pole position.
Qualifying for the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix started with the first Q1 double-knockout for McLaren in 2018, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne sandwiching both Williams at the back of the grid. Vandoorne, a Belgian, disappointed his home crowd by qualifying last. He will start alongside Valtteri Bottas, who suffers a grid penalty for an engine change.
Eliminations continued in Q2, Renault, Alfa Romeo Sauber, and Toro Rosso-Honda all falling victim to faster competitors in that order. As cars returned to the garage, rain started to fall around Spa-Francorchamps, catching teams off guard. None trialed wet-weather setups in practice, and all teams eagerly deployed their cars on slicks to try for a fast time before the track soaked up too much moisture.
They were too late. Valtteri Bottas spun off through Blanchimont, signaling that it was time for intermediate tires. Both Force Indias stayed out, hoping to make the best of what little dry track remained, but a scary slide through Raidillon by Sergio Perez confirmed this to be a mistake. Force India too switched to intermediates at its first opportunity.
But even intermediate tires looked inadequate. Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull struggled on his first timed lap, and the Aussie went off at the end of Kemmel straight. Max Verstappen had an equally difficult drive, but more success with keeping his Red Bull on track. As he slithered his RB14 toward completion of the session's first timed lap, Ferrari reported over the radio that rain had already passed, and lap times tumbled from there.
Sebastian Vettel found the right line first, taking provisional pole by almost three seconds, but Lewis Hamilton snuck in one more rainy lap, echoing his stunning Hungary performance with a pole more than seven tenths faster than Vettel—the 78th of his career.
With a shocking recovery from its near-dissolution over summer break, and almost being barred race entry, Force India interrupted the frontrunners' party, locking down the second row of the grid for itself, Esteban Ocon ahead of Perez. Romain Grosjean equals his best qualifying result of the season, and starts fifth alongside Kimi Räikkönen, whose car ran out of fuel according to MTV Finland. Red Bull lords over a lowly fourth row, behind which Kevin Magnussen and future Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly will start.
Full starting order for the Belgian Grand Prix can be found below.
- Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes - 1:58.179
- Sebastian Vettel/Ferrari - 1:58.905
- Esteban Ocon/Force India - 2:01.851
- Sergio Perez/Force India - 2:01.894
- Romain Grosjean/Haas - 2:02.122
- Kimi Räikkönen/Ferrari - 2:02.671
- Max Verstappen/Red Bull - 2:02.769
- Daniel Ricciardo/Red Bull - 2:02.939
- Kevin Magnussen/Haas - 2:04.933
- Pierre Gasly/Toro Rosso-Honda - 1:43.844
- Brendon Hartley/Toro Rosso-Honda - 1:43.865
- Charles Leclerc/Alfa Romeo Sauber - 1:44.062
- Marcus Ericsson/Alfa Romeo Sauber - 1:44.301
- Nico Hülkenberg/Renault - No Q2 Time
- Carlos Sainz Jr./Renault - 1:44.489
- Fernando Alonso/McLaren - 1:44.917
- Sergey Sirotkin/Williams - 1:44.998
- Lance Stroll/Williams - 1:45.134
- Stoffel Vandoorne/McLaren - 1:45.307
- Valtteri Bottas/Mercedes - Grid Penalty
- RELATEDFormula 1 Resumes in Belgium, Räikkönen Fastest in Friday PracticeBack from a refreshing summer break, Kimi Räikkönen was the fastest in Friday free practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.READ NOW
- RELATEDAlonso Miffed With Red Bull F1, Says He Has Received Six Offers From Team Over TimeOpposing claims from Team Principal Christian Horner, Alonso says he's been offered a contract by the team twice in 2018 alone.READ NOW
- RELATEDHaas F1 to Retain Santino Ferrucci in Junior Driver ProgramThe American open-wheel driver had his troubles in F2 and is set to contest the final two IndyCar races of 2018.READ NOW
- RELATEDForce India to Race at Belgian GP Under New Name and OwnershipThe team now known as Racing Point Force India will start fresh with the former organization's Constructors' Championship points forfeited.READ NOW
- RELATEDReport: Formula E Champion Jean-Eric Vergne Could Return to F1Fast-but-flawed Vergne last raced in Formula 1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2014. Facing a talent deficit, the team reportedly wants him back for 2019.READ NOW