Lewis Hamilton will start the Belgium race from pole position, after clearly beating his team mate Nico Rosberg in this Saturday’s qualifying.
It is Hamilton’s sixth consecutive pole, something that we hadn’t seen since Michael Schumacher did in 2000-2001.
"Pole is great to have but it’s a long race and a long stretch to turn 5. I’m just happy with today" said the Mercedes world champion. Niki Lauda added Lewis was "today unbeatable".
A happy Valtteri Bottas came in third for Williams, ahead of Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez, as it was all Mercedes-powered cars in the top eight. Sebastian Vettel was P9 and Carlos Sainz closed the top ten.
Scuderia Ferrari struggled throughout qualifying today with Vettel being only 9th and Kimi Raikkonen doing even worse, with his car stopping in-track as the Finn reported "something broke" and qualified P14. Can they improve to a good result in what will be their 900th race?
It was also a tough day for McLaren. Both cars were out in Q1, and were lacking serious speed. For Jenson Button to move up a place he needs to find another second.
Jenson though did comment his last lap was "the best lap for a long time" adding it was "equal" to his pole position lap from three years ago.
Turning to better news, it was a strong day particularly for Lotus, as they had pace and placed both cars in the top ten, with Romain Grosjean getting a great P4, though he will have to drop places for his penalty.
Qualifying Top 10:
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:47.197
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, +0.458
3. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, +1.340
4. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, +1.364
5. Sergio Perez, Force India, +1.402
6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, +1.442
7. Felipe Massa, Williams, +1.488
8. Pastor Maldonado, Lotus, +1.557
9. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +1.628
10. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, +2.574
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “The battle for pole between the two Mercedes drivers was stunning, with very little to choose between them right up to the end of qualifying on this amazing track. With a significant performance gap between the medium and soft compounds, and quite high degradation expected, there is plenty of scope for strategy here at Spa, with at least two pit stops anticipated for the majority of competitors. We’ve got a few drivers starting out of position due to penalties or other problems, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they tailor their strategies and use the tyres they have saved to move up through the field.”
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: "We chipped away at the session and came to the fore when it really mattered. It wasn’t the cleanest session for Felipe as we had to re-programme the car at the start of Q1 which delayed him getting on track, but he recovered well. Valtteri drove a very strong lap to get himself into third. Looking at our championship rivals we have had a great qualifying. Both drivers have done really well, we now need to convert this into some good points tomorrow".
Valtteri Bottas: I am very pleased with the result and it’s good to be back in the top three. The team did everything right, it was up to me to put it all together. Behind me it was very tight so to be on top of that pack is great. P3 is a good place to start tomorrow, the race pace looks on par with quite a few of the teams around us, so it will be a fight, but one I am really looking forward to.
Felipe Massa: I lost a bit of time in the final sector and looking at the result it cost me a few positions, it was that close. It is frustrating but it is a long race and the circuit can hold so many surprises, one being the weather! We need to make sure we have a good start and gain as many positions as possible and then continue to build from there.
Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “It has been very satisfying to see the updated VJM08 looking so competitive here at Spa and Sergio delivered a fantastic performance today. Starting from the second row gives us every chance to score some good points tomorrow and even challenge for the podium. I’m sure Nico would have been up there too had he managed a clean lap, but I expect him to move up the order in the race. It’s important that we convert the performance today into a strong result tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez: “It’s been a really good day and I am very satisfied with my lap in Q3. We were able to improve the car balance from yesterday and this gave me a whole lot of confidence - probably the most I have had this season. The car was much more predictable and this allowed me to push more in every corner. I showed very good pace in each of the three qualifying sessions and I am really looking forward to the race tomorrow. I see no reason why we cannot fight for the podium. The performance today also gives me a lot of optimism for the remainder of the season. The team is doing an amazing job and I am happy I was able to back it up with a good performance behind the wheel. I have been working hard with my engineers to get on top of the updated car and I expect to do this weekend after weekend.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “I’m not that happy today because we had the potential to be well inside the top ten. On my final lap in Q2 I made a small mistake going into turn one – I just locked the tyres and missed the apex. On top of that we had a small issue with the turbo, which cost us some speed and time down the straights. So I just missed out on making Q3. However, the weekend is not lost and I’m sure we can have a strong race from P11. The car has been performing very well this weekend; we’ve looked competitive and I will be attacking in the race to try and move forward.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director:
“We’re very happy with today’s performance.”
Romain Grosjean, E23-04. Q: P4, Starts P9, 1:48.561. FP3: P16, 1:51.187
“Today’s result is more than we had expected! I gave everything that I had in the car for that last lap, I pushed hard from the beginning to the end. Being P4 is a really good effort. It is just so fast here. Going through Eau Rouge at 300kph, it feels like being a kid at Christmas. Every time you drive through it you have a smile on your face, it is so nice driving on this circuit. We will start from P9 tomorrow with the grid penalty and we will see what we can achieve from there. We have been better in race pace than qualifying pace so with a good set-up and hopefully some nice overtaking manoeuvres we can score some good points on Sunday. ”
Pastor Maldonado, E23-03. Q: P8, Starts P7 1:48.754. FP3: P12, 1:50.585
“At the start of the weekend we didn’t have the best pace so the team has done a really fantastic job to get on top of the car and give me and Romain something really strong to use for qualifying, which is thanks to everyone’s hard work. I think we will be competitive tomorrow and with the right strategy we should be able to achieve something pretty good.”