Hamilton beats Vettel to pole in wet qualifying, Force Indias on second row
Belgian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Hamilton beats Vettel to pole in wet qualifying, Force Indias on second row

Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Sebastian Vettel to a sensational pole position in a wet qualifying session at the Belgian Grand Prix.

He beat Vettel to the fastest time by 0.726s, finding a huge chunk of time in the final sector as conditions improved in the last few minutes of the session. Meanwhile, Force India accomplished one of the feel-good stories of the year, locking out the second row of the grid in third and fourth just weeks after the team was rescued from administration by new owner Lawrence Stroll.

The first two sessions of qualifying were dry, resulting in a new lap record for Vettel in Q2, but ahead of Q3 rain started to fall. The wet track surface completely changed the dynamic of the battle afterFerrari had looked quick enough to secure pole ahead of Mercedes in dry conditions.

Such was the intensity of the sudden rain shower that all the drivers had gone out on slick tyres at the start of Q3, only to find a soaked final sector on their outlap. They then had to dive back into the pits for intermediate tyres, but in order to see the end of the session they also had to refuel. It seems Red Bull and Kimi Raikkonen opted to save time by foregoing the refuelling, meaning they set the quickest times initially but were unable to remain on track to make the most of the improving conditions at the end of the session.

That played into the hands of Hamilton, Vettel, the Force Indias and Romain Grosjean, who all had the fuel to stay until the final few minutes of Q3. Raikkonen, Verstappen and Ricciardo had to pit after setting their times and, given the length of the circuit, weren't able to refuel and return to the track for a second time. They finished sixth, seventh and eighth respectively ahead of Kevin Magnussen in the second Haas. Bottas qualified tenth but did not set a time in Q3 as he has an engine penalty that would drop him to the back of the grid regardless.

Pierre Gasly qualified 11th but will move up to tenth once Bottas' grid penalty is factored in. He will start one place ahead of Toro Rosso teammate Brendon Hartley who spun at Turn 1 on his final attempt to set a quick lap in Q2. The two Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson were 13th and 14th fastest ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who opted not to set a time in Q2 due to his engine penalty which will drop him to the back of the grid.

Carlos Sainz missed out on a place in Q2 by 0.268s, and will start one place ahead of the man he will replace next year at McLaren, Fernando Alonso. Sainz complained of a lack of rear grip on a weekend when the team is running a new floor for the first time. He was 0.344s his teammate Hulkenberg but will start ahead of him due to the grid penalty he has.

It was another embarrassing session for McLaren, with Alonso 17th fastest and Stoffel Vandoorne down in 20th. Alonso qualified a tenth off a place in Q3 last year using Honda power, underlining the problems the team has with its chassis since switching to Renault at the start of this year.

The two Williams will spit the McLarens on the grid, with Sergey Sirotkin 0.136s faster than teammate Lance Stroll.

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