Lewis Hamilton is a man on a mission.
Fresh off F1’s summer break, and on the back of a sloppy round in Hungary, the championship leader set a blistering 1:49.197 lap at Spa today to claim a new track record and beat team mate Nico Rosberg by more than 4/10ths of a second.
Despite Rosberg leading in FP1 and FP2, Hamilton took charge and led in FP3 and all three qualifying sessions from Belgium. He and Rosberg even lead in Q1 despite being the only runners on the harder compound tires.
Q2 was interrupted by a brief red flag for Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari which ground to a halt with a nasty sounding engine failure. Despite turning the silly season upside down and resigning with the Scuderia for 2016, the Finn’s bad luck on race weekend’s caught up to him again.
In Q3 Hamilton was untouchable, but behind the top three of he, Rosberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas the order was anything but predictable. Sergio Perez came in an excellent fourth for Force India, proving once again that the little team from Silverstone still thrives at low downforce circuits. Daniel Ricciardo was a strong fifth for Red Bull, with Felipe Massa a somewhat disappointing sixth for Williams. Pastor Maldonado put in a great lap to claim seventh for Lotus. Sebastian Vettel was a disappointing 8th in his Ferrari ahead of Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus. Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10 in his Toro Rosso.
At a circuit where Mercedes nearest rivals expected to be closer to the front, Bottas was a second and a half behind Hamilton. For anyone to beat Mercedes tomorrow, they will have to take advantage at the start in the same way Williams did at Silverstone and the way Ferrari did at the Hungaroring. Betting against Hamilton after his stunning 1:47.1 lap today may well be an exercise in futility.
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