Provisional grid for the Belgian Grand Prix

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After a tense qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps yesterday, the scene is set for a close race as Red Bull and Mercedes renew battle following the summer break. The top two teams in the constructors’ championship duly locked out the front two rows of the grid in Belgium, but it was only thanks to a late charge and a dramatic change in the weather. Provisionally, Paul di Resta looked set to claim a shock pole position for Force India after he gambled on dry tires early on. However, Nico Rosberg managed to just squeeze the Scot out before Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton all went quicker, with the Briton taking his fourth pole position in a row.

Following qualifying, there have been no changes to the grid via penalties or pre-existing grid drops. The only minor penalty was a €5000 fine for Lotus after an unsafe release during qualifying.

As the final qualifying session was wet, all twenty-two drivers will have a free choice of starting tire for the race today.

Provisional grid for the Belgian Grand Prix

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
3 Mark Webber Red Bull
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
5 Paul di Resta Force India
6 Jenson Button McLaren
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus
8 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
10 Felipe Massa Ferrari
11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber
12 Adrian Sutil Force India
13 Sergio Perez McLaren
14 Giedo van der Garde Caterham
15 Jules Bianchi Marussia
16 Max Chilton Marussia
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams
18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso
19 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
20 Valtteri Bottas Williams
21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber
22 Charles Pic Caterham

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.