Lewis Hamilton set blistering pace to claim his sixth Belgian Grand Prix pole position and a new track record at Spa as he beat Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen by more than half a second.
In the opening session Verstappen emerged from the garage five minutes into running and immediately jumped to top spot with an opening time of 1:43.408. That was swiftly beaten by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and then Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo took over in P1. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton then crossed the line in 1:43.323 to take a firm grip on top spot, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas two tenths further back in second place. Verstappen then went for a second flyer and claimed third place with a lap of 1:43.197.
Hamilton, along with the Red Bulls Sainz, Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon opted to sit out the final runs and though the top three order remained unchanged at the end of the segment, fourth place went to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.
The Frenchman put in a good lap to progress ahead of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll, AlphaTauri team-mate Daniil Kvyat, Ricciardo, Sainz, the second Racing Point of Sergio Pérez and Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
At the other end of the order there was a close call for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc but in the end the Ferrari driver scraped through to Q2 in P15, just nine hundredths of a second ahead of the first driver to be eliminated, Kimi Räikkonen. The Finn was followed to the exit by Haas’ Romain Grosjean, Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, Williams’ Nicholas Latifi and the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Both Mercedes drivers headed into the second session on medium tyres, a choice mirrored by the Racing Point pair and by Verstappen.
Hamilton again took top spot with a time of 1:42.014, with Bottas again a tenth adrift of his team-mate, while Verstappen again slotted into third place with a lap of 1:42.473, a little over a tenth ahead of Ricciardo.
Having failed to get the best out of the mediums on their opening runs, Stroll and Pérez found themselves in P11 and P12 ahead of the final runs. However, with soft tyres on board, Stroll jumped to fifth and Perez to seventh. That pushed Albon down the order but the Thai driver put in an excellent final flyer and vaulted to P3 ahead of Verstappen with a lap of 1:42.193. Eliminated at this stage were 11th-placed Daniil Kvyat followed by Gasly. Leclerc, Vettel and Williams’ George Russell.
Hamilton was simply untouchable in the final segment of the session and after claiming provisional pole position with an opening lap of 1:41.451 he found even more pace on this final flying lap to claim his sixth Belgian Grand Prix pole with a time of 1:41.252.
In the first runs, Verstappen initially took third place but he was soon edged out to P4 after Ricciardo posted a good lap of 1:42.061. There was more to come from Verstappen, though, and the Dutchman found an extra reserve of pace to set a best time of 1:41.778 to beat the Australian by more than two tenths of a second. His lap was also good enough to almost steal a place on the front row, but in the end he missed out on a second career P2 start in Belgium by just 0.015s. 1
Albon ended the session with fifth place behind Ricciardo thanks to a lap of 1:42.264. Sixth place went to the second Renault of Ocon, while Sainz will line up in seventh place ahead of Pérez, Stroll and Norris.
2020 FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’41.252 6 249.026
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’41.763 0.511 6 247.775
3 Verstappen Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1’41.778 0.526 6 247.739
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1’42.061 0.809 5 247.052
5 Alexander Albon Red Bull/Honda 1’42.264 1.012 6 246.561
6 Esteban Ocon Renault 1’42.396 1.144 6 246.243
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 1’42.438 1.186 6 246.143
8 Sergio Pérez Racing Point/Mercedes 1’42.532 1.280 3 245.917
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 1’42.603 1.351 3 245.747
10 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1’42.657 1.405 6 245.617
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri/Honda 1’42.730 0.716 6 245.443
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1’42.745 0.731 6 245.407
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1’42.996 0.982 6 244.809
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’43.261 1.247 6 244.181
15 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1’43.468 1.454 5 243.692
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1’43.743 1.420 6 243.046
17 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1’43.838 1.515 6 242.824
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1’43.950 1.627 6 242.562
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1’44.138 1.815 6 242.124
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1’44.314 1.991 8 241.716