BELGIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton takes seventh Spa pole as Ferrari reaches a new low

Testing & Race Reports

Lewis Hamilton has taken his seventh pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix by going half a second faster than his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. The six-times champion looked on fire in qualifying going fastest in all three sessions of qualifying.

The Mercedes always expected to be the team to beat at proved once again to be unstoppable securing there seventh pole position of the season. Bottas appeared to be unable to stop his teammate, the Finn didn’t manage to improve enough on his final run.

Hamilton set personal best times in the first and third sector and going fastest of anyone in the middle part of the track, where Mercedes has been dominant all weekend.

Bottas was a hundredth fastest than the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, the Dutchman still not having the performance to fight Mercedes for pole at his second home Grand Prix. Verstappen was a quarter of a second faster than his former teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who put his Renault fourth fastest.

Hamilton said “It was a very, very clean session, every lap getting better and better. I woke up to the news of Chadwick Boseman passing away and that news broke me. It wasn’t easy to get back in focus but I wanted to drive to perfection for him.”

“We’re not the strongest in the first and last section but we’re good in the middle section. I wanted to go out first, in the clean air, and it worked out perfectly. Turn One has been a weakness in the last few years, but I was really good there and I’m happy with that.”

Bottas added “I need to attack it if I want to keep up my title hopes. It’s not over until it’s over so I’ve got to fight around Turn One.”

The second Red Bull of Alex Albon was fifth fastest a second behind Hamilton, the British-Thai driver found enough time to put himself ahead of Esteban Ocon.

The pace of the Renault’s has been a bit of a surprise, they managed to out-qualify both Racing Points who have historically been very strong at Spa. But despite having what has been called ‘Pink Mercedes”, the team could only manage eighth with Sergio Perez, with his teammate Lance Stroll half a second behind in ninth.

Lando Norris was tenth after failing to improve on his position on his second run in Q3, despite setting his best lap on his final run it was not enough to move himself up the order.

Norris starts ahead of both Alpha Tauri’s with Daniil Kvyat eleventh and Pierre Gasly twelfth. This was despite both Alpha Tauri’s setting their personal best, but it proved not to be enough to make it through to Q2 as both the Racing Points made significant gains to get through to Q3 on mediums.

It was another shocking low not just for Ferrari but Ferrari power, all six cars in the bottom eight and both Haas’s and Alfa Romeo’s out in Q1.

Charles Leclerc, who took pole and won last year, was almost knocked out in Q1 as it was clear that the team were lacking in straight-line speed, he was a second and a half off pole but was four-tenths faster than Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc told reporters, “It’s difficult to find an explanation. We need to find the issue. It’s very difficult in tough times like this but us drivers will try to make the best race possible but don’t expect any miracles.”

Sebastian Vettel added, “It’s the true picture – it’s what the car can do. We did a little bit better than yesterday but it’s not a surprise today.

As they battled to find a tow, they were left behind prompting a nervous wait to see if they would make it through. This also doesn’t put the team in a great position going to their home races at Monza and their 1,000th race at Mugello over the next fortnight. This was the first time this year that neither red car has made it into the top ten.

Williams George Russell managed to once again make it through to Q2, the Englishman going fifteenth fastest. He splits the two Ferrari’s from their customer teams but underlining how far Ferrari has fallen and the progress made by Williams he was only two tenths off Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen was fastest of those knocked out in Q1, the Alfa Romeo almost a tenth ahead of the Haas of Romain Grosjean. Grosjean splits the Alfa Romeo’s while teammate Kevin Magnussen was twentieth.


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