Hamilton storms to tenth pole position of 2015 in Belgium

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Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets in qualifying at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday afternoon.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap of 1:47.197 to beat Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 0.458 seconds in the final stage of qualifying as the German team once again locked out the front row of the grid.

The result marked Hamilton’s tenth pole position of the 2015 season, and also sees him clinch the second FIA Pole Trophy, awarded to the best qualifier in F1 each year.

Despite showing good signs of pace on Friday in practice, Rosberg was unable to match Hamilton in the middle sector at Spa, leaving him to settle for second place on the grid.

Williams emerged as the best of the rest in qualifying as Valtteri Bottas finished third, albeit 1.3 seconds behind Hamilton’s best time. Teammate Felipe Massa qualified seventh, marking the team’s best results thus far this weekend at Spa.

Romain Grosjean led Lotus’ charge once again in qualifying at Spa as he qualified fourth, marking his best Saturday result of the season. However, he will drop down to P9 for the start thanks to a gearbox penalty. As a result, Sergio Perez, who finished an excellent fifth for Force India, will start from fourth ahead of 2014 race winner Daniel Ricciardo.

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado qualified eighth on Saturday ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who struggled in the final part of the session and had to settle for P9 overall. Carlos Sainz Jr. rounded out the top ten for Toro Rosso.

Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat were two of the surprise dropouts in Q2 at Spa as both struggled to find enough pace in the dying seconds of the session. A fast lap from Force India teammate Perez dumped Hulkenberg out in 11th place ahead of Kvyat and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.

Kimi Raikkonen may have a new Ferrari deal under his belt, but this did not improve his luck in qualifying as he suffered a sudden oil pressure drop on his car at the beginning of Q2, causing him to stop out on track.

As a result, the four-time Belgian Grand Prix winner was left P14 come the end of the session, only ahead of Max Verstappen who chose not to run due to a grid penalty.

McLaren endured another difficult qualifying at Spa on Saturday as both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were eliminated in Q1. Both struggled with the long straights thanks to the power deficiencies of the Honda power unit, leaving them 17th and 18th overall behind Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.

However, both drivers will start from the back row of the grid thanks to the power unit penalties accumulated so far this weekend, amounting to a total of 105 positions. As a result, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi will gain some positions from their 19th and 20th-place finishes in qualifying.

Tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET. For more details, click here.

IndyCar Power Rankings: Pato O’Ward moves to the top entering Texas Motor Speedway


The NBC Sports IndyCar power rankings naturally were as jumbled as the action on the streets of St. Petersburg after a chaotic opener to the 2023 season.

Pato O’Ward, who finished second because of an engine blip that cost him the lead with a few laps remaining, moves into the top spot ahead of St. Pete winner Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi, who finished fourth in his Arrow McLaren debut. Scott Dixon and St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who led 31 laps) rounded out the top five.

St. Pete pole-sitter Romain Grosjean (who started first at St. Pete after capturing his second career pole position) Callum Ilott (a career-best fifth) and Graham Rahal entered the power rankings entering the season’s second race.

Three drivers fell out of the preseason top 10 after the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – including previously top-ranked Josef Newgarden, who finished 17th after qualifying 14th.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, here’s NBC Sports’ assessment of the current top 10 drivers through the first of 17 races this year (with previous preseason rankings in parenthesis):

NBC Sports’ IndyCar Power Rankings

1. Pato O’Ward (5) – If not for the dreaded “plenum event” in the No. 5 Chevrolet, the Arrow McLaren driver is opening the season with a victory capping a strong race weekend.

2. Marcus Ericsson (7) – He might be the most opportunistic driver in IndyCar, but that’s because the 2022 Indy 500 winner has become one of the series’ fastest and most consistent stars.

3. Alexander Rossi (10) – He overcame a frustrating Friday and mediocre qualifying to open his Arrow McLaren career with the sort of hard-earned top five missing in his last years at Andretti.

4. Scott Dixon (3) – Put aside his opening-lap skirmish with former teammate Felix Rosenqvist, and it was a typically stealthily good result for the six-time champion.

5. Romain Grosjean (NR) – The St. Petersburg pole-sitter consistently was fastest on the streets of St. Petersburg over the course of the race weekend, which he couldn’t say once last year.

6. Scott McLaughlin (6) – Easily the best of the Team Penske drivers before his crash with Grosjean, McLaughlin drove like a legitimate 2023 championship contender.

7. Callum Ilott (NR) – A quietly impressive top five for the confident Brit in Juncos Hollinger Racing’s first race as a two-car team. Texas will be a big oval litmus test.

8. Graham Rahal (NR) – Sixth at St. Pete, Rahal still has the goods on street courses, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan remains headed in the right direction.

9. Alex Palou (4) – He seemed a step behind Ericsson and Dixon in the race after just missing the Fast Six in qualifying, but this was a solid start for Palou.

10. Will Power (2) – An uncharacteristic mistake that crashed Colton Herta put a blemish on the type of steady weekend that helped him win the 2022 title.

Falling out (last week): Josef Newgarden (1), Colton Herta (8), Christian Lundgaard (9)