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.

Related news

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules

Formula One is hoping to attract new engine manufacturers to the grid by introducing rules that require existing manufacturers to share technology with new entrants.

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time on the first day of Abu Dhabi's post-season test, as his former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen completed his first day back at Sauber.

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton won the final race of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi, crowning his championship-winning 2018 campaign with an 11th victory from 21 races.

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position at the final race of the 2018 season after securing the fastest qualifying time by 0.162s in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton finished the final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen emerged as his closest competitor.

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas topped the second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Mercedes and Red Bull battled each other for the fastest time under Yas Marina's floodlights.

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen was comfortably quickest after the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing the session 0.454s quicker than teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso emerged victorious in a stop-start, attrition-heavy 2018 MotoGP season finale at a wet Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally Australia, while crashes for Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak helped seal a sixth World Rally Championship title for M-Sport Ford's Sebastien Ogier.

RELATED NEWS

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules
F1 news

F1 engine manufacturers will have to share tech with new entrants under new rules

Formula One is hoping to attract new engine manufacturers to the grid by introducing rules that require existing manufacturers to share technology with new entrants.

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber
Abu Dhabi test

Sebastian Vettel fastest in Abu Dhabi test as Kimi Raikkonen returns to Sauber

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time on the first day of Abu Dhabi's post-season test, as his former Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen completed his first day back at Sauber.

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Hamilton caps off 2018 with easy win in Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton won the final race of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi, crowning his championship-winning 2018 campaign with an 11th victory from 21 races.

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel to pole for Abu Dhabi finale

Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position at the final race of the 2018 season after securing the fastest qualifying time by 0.162s in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP3

Lewis Hamilton leads Kimi Raikkonen in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton finished the final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the top of the timesheets as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen emerged as his closest competitor.

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP2

Valtteri Bottas pips Max Verstappen by 0.044s to top second practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas topped the second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Mercedes and Red Bull battled each other for the fastest time under Yas Marina's floodlights.

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - FP1

Max Verstappen leads comfortable Red Bull one-two in first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen was comfortably quickest after the first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, finishing the session 0.454s quicker than teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale
Valencia Grand Prix

Dovizioso triumphs in wild rain-hit finale

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso emerged victorious in a stop-start, attrition-heavy 2018 MotoGP season finale at a wet Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier
Rally Australia

Latvala wins in Australia, WRC title for Ogier

Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala won Rally Australia, while crashes for Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak helped seal a sixth World Rally Championship title for M-Sport Ford's Sebastien Ogier.