Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth consecutive pole position with a perfectly-timed lap in rollercoaster weather conditions in the final seconds of yesterday’s qualifying session for today’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old Briton, in his Mercedes, grabbed his fifth pole of the year and 31st of his career with a late lap that saw him clock a best lap in 2 minutes, 1.012 seconds.
This came just a second after Australian Mark Webber and his Red Bull teammate defending world champion German Sebastian Vettel had gone successively fastest with laps of 2:01.325 and 2:01.200.
Hamilton’s lap delivered a final stunning moment of drama at the very end of a qualifying hour packed with incident and shocks as sweeping rain produced rapidly changing conditions.
Vettel, the series leader, wound up second ahead of Webber, with Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, German Nico Rosberg, fourth ahead of Briton Paul di Resta of Force India and Briton Jenson Button sixth for McLaren.
It brought Hamilton his seventh front -ow start of the season on a memorable afternoon from start to finish.
In quintessentially capricious Spa conditions, with the track drying out following a pre-session downpour, the first part of qualifying saw the Caterham and Marussia teams create a surprise after making an early switch from “wet” tires to intermediates.
This resulted in a dramatic final few minutes to Q1 that saw Alonso fastest ahead of a rejuvenated Hamilton with, remarkably, Dutchman Guido van der Garde taking third for Caterham ahead of Rosberg.
Marussia also delivered a shock, with Frenchman Jules Bianchi 11th and Briton Max Chilton 16th, his first experience of progressing.
Out went Williams duo Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and Finn Valtteri Bottas in 17th and 20th places, along with luckless Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who had been fast in dry conditions, and his Toro Rosso teammate Australian Daniel Ricciardo — the man tipped to be switching to Red Bull alongside Vettel next year.