F1 2014 Belgian Grand Prix Spa qualifying result: Hamilton misses pole position
- Credit: Mercedes-Benz
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton will line-up on the front row for the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit following a wet qualifying session.
The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire qualified second fastest in Belgium today (Saturday) behind teammate Nico Rosberg, who snatched pole position for the first time at Spa.
Today’s result represents the Mercedes team’s fifth front-row lockout of the 2014 season in 12 races. Rosberg’s 11th career pole position – and fourth in a row – is also the team’s 11th pole in 12 races this year.
Sebastian Vettel was third in qualifying for Red Bull, some two seconds slower than pole-sitter Rosberg, with Ferrari ace Fernando Alonso fourth in the provisional qualifying results.
Daniel Ricciardo will line-up fifth on the Spa grid for Red Bull, with Williams driver Valtteri Bottas also qualifying on the third row in sixth place.
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McLaren star Kevin Magnussen was seventh quickest in qualifying ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Felipe Massa, for Williams, and McLaren’s Jenson Button completed the Q3 top 10 shootout, with the Toro Rosso cars of Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne 11th and 12th respectively.
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Both Mercedes drivers ran intermediate tyres throughout qualifying in consistent wet conditions. But in the post-qualifying press conference, 2008 F1 world champion Hamilton complained of a brakes issues with his car.
Hamilton said: “I was a bit nervous going into qualifying, wondering if everything would come together after the troubles I’ve had during recent weekends. But it’s great to see that all the hard work the team has put in is paying off.
“This circuit is a big challenge in the wet. It’s probably more fun in the dry, when you’re right on the edge of performance, but the conditions were pretty stable so it wasn’t too bad.
“This is a circuit where you need confidence on the brakes but unfortunately, on my Q3 run, I had a glazed front left brake which made the car pull to the side. When it does that, it’s really hard to recover and get the temperature into the brake, so it meant I kept losing a bit of braking power on my final laps.”
He added: “I’m not too disappointed, though. Last year I was on pole, then Seb came flying past me down the Kemmel Straight, so I think P2 could be the best place to be. It may just be a blessing in disguise with the grid slot.”
On a damp track, Hamilton recorded a banker first flying lap in Q3 that was sixth-tenths slower than Silver Arrows colleague Rosberg’s fastest first effort.
The Mercedes pair were some two seconds clear of the rest of the field at that point.
Hamilton was the first of the Mercedes men out for the final runs, but was unable to beat Rosberg’s time after making a few mistakes on his hot lap due to his breaks issue, and will start second on the grid tomorrow.
Rosberg, meanwhile, improved his time to 2m 05.591s – 0.228s quicker than Hamilton – as Mercedes claimed another qualifying front-row lockout.
World championship leader Rosberg topped the Q1 timesheets by a tenth from Hamilton and those positions were reversed in Q2 with the Hertfordshire-born racer quickest.
Pole-sitter Rosberg said after qualifying: “It’s fantastic to start from pole here at Spa. It’s never easy here in these conditions, which make the track even more challenging.
“But today was very stable with intermediate conditions throughout, so not as tough as in previous years. It was a great qualifying performance today and I have to thank the team for their great work.
“My engineers helped me to find the right set-up with all the opportunities to change something during a session. The car went better and better at the end, so I’m very happy and also a bit surprised that the gap was so big to the other teams.
“Having said that, I hope to have a good start and a clear race tomorrow because, like we have seen in Budapest, Sunday is the day that counts. But I’m quite confident as we have a fantastic car. I’m looking forward to the race.”
On today’s rain-hit qualifying session, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport head Toto Wolff said: “Sometimes in these wet conditions, you just hit the sweet spot with both the car set-up and the tyres – and that’s definitely what happened for us today, with a car that was the class of the field on the intermediates.
“But you then need two fantastic drivers to deliver and it’s very encouraging to see both cars on the front row for the first time since Canada.
“However, the performance gaps we saw today were not normal and we are taking nothing for granted. Our rivals will be dangerous in the race if it’s dry, and we will be working hard tonight to make sure we find the right strategy for both drivers to fight for the win tomorrow.”
Technical director Paddy Lowe added: “We never like to see rain ahead of qualifying because it always means lots of stress – and this was our fifth wet qualifying session in 12 races so far this year!
“But on the other hand the conditions were pretty kind, as it was consistent intermediate tyre weather throughout which saved us any difficult decisions on which tyres to use.
“We are also pleased to see that the car enjoyed a significant pace advantage in the conditions, which made life easier – and set things up for a fantastic competition for pole between our two drivers, who had a great battle today.
“The only issue we saw was brake glazing – in particular on Lewis’ car. But overall, we are most happy to have both cars at the front and to have enjoyed a clean qualifying session, which we have not seen for a number of races.”
The 2014 Belgian Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Sunday.