Lewis Hamilton swept to the 68th pole position of his Formula 1 career in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday, matching Michael Schumacher’s all-time record in the process.
Hamilton produced a sensational final flying lap in Q3, with his time of 1:42.553 being a new record on this configuration of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
Hamilton finished two-tenths of a second clear of Ferrari rival and drivers’ championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who made big gains on his last lap but was unable to overhaul the Briton at the top.
Vettel did manage to split the Mercedes drivers, with Valtteri Bottas finishing half a second shy of Hamilton in third place.
Four-time Belgian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen was left fourth after an error on his final lap in Q3. The Finn still finished ahead of Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, both of whom struggled to challenge the front four drivers.
Nico Hulkenberg wound up seventh for Renault ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, while Jolyon Palmer’s rotten luck continued as he suffered a clutch problem in Q2 before a complete loss of oil pressure in Q3, leaving him P10 on the grid without a time to his name.
McLaren’s efforts to get Fernando Alonso into Q3 by using Stoffel Vandoorne to give him a tow down the Kemmel Straight proved fruitless when a loss of power on the Spaniard’s Honda engine caused him to slow on his final flying lap, resigning him to P11 on the grid.
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were P12 and P13 for Haas, with Carlos Sainz Jr. taking 14th for Toro Rosos ahead of Vandoorne, who will drop to the back of the grid due to a litany of grid penalties totalling 65 places.
Felipe Massa’s miserable weekend at Spa continued as he dropped out in Q1, finishing 16th following a late lap from Sainz. Williams teammate Lance Stroll also fell at the first hurdle, taking P18 ahead of Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.
2017 Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying Results