F1 2015 Belgian Grand Prix Spa qualifying result: Hamilton starts from pole position
PUBLISHED: 11:37 23 August 2015 | UPDATED: 11:37 23 August 2015
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton starts for pole position today (Sunday) in the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
The 30-year-old Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire put in a supreme lap around the Spa circuit in qualifying on Saturday to claim this third pole in Belgium, and the 48th of his F1 career.
He will line-up on the starting grid this afternoon with Nico Rosberg in second place after the Silver Arrows team completed another qualifying front-row lockout.
Ten P1 grid slots in 2015 to date sees Hamilton claim this season’s pole position trophy.
And with six consecutive poles in a single season, the Stevenage-born racer also equalled a record set by Mika Häkkinen in 1999.
Belgium facts & stats: The race
* Start time: 14:00 (local)/12:00 (GMT)
* Race distance: 44 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75% distance/33 laps)
* 2014 winner: Daniel Ricciardo
* 2014 pole position: Nico Rosberg 2m05.591s 200.766km/h (wet)
* 2014 fastest lap: Nico Rosberg 1m50.511s 228.162km/h
* Safety Car likelihood: Chances of a Safety Car High. There’s an 80 per cent chance that the Safety Car will appear in Sunday’s race - that’s largely due to accidents at Spa occurring at high-speed
* Don’t put the kettle on: The start, when new FIA rules mean there will be more input from the drivers; and laps 13 and 28. Last year’s race was won with a two-stop strategy and, changeable weather aside, the same looks likely in 2015
* Weather forecast: Changeable. Spa-Francorchamps is located in the Ardennes Mountains, which have a notoriously fickle microclimate.
Hamilton clocked a stunning lap of 1m 47.197s in Q3 to storm to pole, with Rosberg’s best a time of 1m 47.655s.
He said: “I’m really happy with the performance of the team and the car this weekend.
“It felt good right from the start and I’m so grateful for the big push the team has made in continuing to improve the car.
“It can be tough to find the ideal setup and then get a good rhythm at this track – but I’ve felt comfortable throughout.
Belgium facts & stats: The track
* First race: 1950
* Circuit length: 7.004km/4.352 miles
* Run to Turn One: 265 metres
* Longest straight: 2.015km, from La Source to Turn 5, Les Combes
* Top speed: 322km/h on the approach to Turn 5
* DRS zones: Two – on the approach to Turn 1 and, again, on the approach to Turn 5
* Key corner: Turn 10, a 180-degree double-apex left-hander. The entry is fast (294km/h) and blind, and the drivers need to be totally committed in order to be fast
* Pitlane length: 390 metres, which is quite long. The time loss isn’t that great because the cars staying on-track have to negotiate the La Source Hairpin
* Major changes for 2015: None.
“Saying that, Nico has been quick all the way through and it’s generally been very close between us.
“Fortunately for me I pulled my two best laps out at the end.”
Two-time world F1 champion Hamilton will be looking to convert his grid position into victory around the famous track, with today’s start crucial.
“Of course, it’s great to have pole, but I’m well aware that it’s only one step,” said Hamilton, who took the Spa chequered flag in 2010 for his only victory in the Belgian GP to date.
Belgium facts & stats: The car
* Fuel consumption 3.35kg per lap, which is high
* Full throttle: 70%
* Brake wear: Low. There are only nine braking events around the lap
* Gear changes: 48 per lap/2112 per race
“There’s a long run down to turn five so anything can happen there and especially at the start.
“The team has done a lot of analysis on that front and we’ve been working on it in the simulator and here at the track.
“I feel we’re as ready as we can be so we’ll see how it goes.”
Rosberg claimed P2 to secure the ninth Silver Arrows front row lockout of the season and will be looking to deny Hamilton his 39th F1 career win.
Did you know?
Heavy rain prior to the start of the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix resulted in F1’s first ever Safety Car start.
Both Mercedes drivers ran twice in Q1 (Prime/Prime), once in Q2 (Option), and twice in Q3 (Option/Option).
Rosberg said: “Qualifying went well until the end. But in Q3, Lewis just found so much time which unfortunately I didn’t manage to do.
“So, a disappointing day, but there is still so much to play for in the race.
“I need a good start and then after Eau Rouge there should be a good chance to overtake at the end of the long straight, so I will push hard to make it happen.
“We have a new starting procedure which we all need to get right and it will be interesting to see how that works.
“But, overall, I’m still very positive that a win is possible here in Spa.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was “pleased” with Saturday’s qualifying result.
Talking after qualifying, he said: “After our race in Hungary, it was important to lay down a marker and we did that this afternoon [Saturday].
“Lewis drove a fantastic lap – he had almost unbelievable pace in Sector 2, and we had seen glimpses of that during practice this morning.
“But Nico has looked very competitive all weekend and will be strong tomorrow too, I am sure. “Looking to Sunday, we are all stepping into new territory with the revised formation lap and start procedures.
“We have done a lot of practice this weekend, like everybody else, and now we need to wait and see how it turns out tomorrow afternoon.”
While the Mercedes garage celebrated, it was another miserable qualifying day for McLaren, and Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will start from the back of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps grid.
Given the double power unit change taken by both drivers, which resulted in a 55-place grid penalty for Alonso and a 50-place penalty for Button, Saturday’s qualifying session was always going to be something of a foregone conclusion.
Button’s lap time of 1m 50.978s was 17th fastest, but his penalties will relegate him to 19th.
After sitting out the morning’s FP3 session with an exhaust problem, Alonso faced a steep learning curve to fettle his car for qualifying.
Like Button, he ran single timed laps on the Prime and the Option, setting a best of 1m 51.420s.
He qualified 18th but will start 20th owing to penalties.
Alonso said: “We knew this would be a difficult weekend. Spa is the longest circuit on the calendar, with very long straights, and we know we have a lack of straight-line speed, so we strategically decided to take some penalties this weekend.
“In order to really enjoy the race, we’ll need something exciting to happen – like some rain. A dry race will make life difficult for us.”
Button added: “We always knew this circuit was going to be a tough one for us.
“It won’t be easy to make up any ground in the race, and we’ve got a long way to go before we’re competitive, but at least the feeling in the car is good.”
The 2015 Belgian Grand Prix starts at 1pm BST.