Rapid Hamilton Takes Tenth Pole in Eleven Races
Impressive throughout practice, reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton recorded the fastest lap of 1:47.197 in Saturday’s Belgian Grand Prix qualification shoot-out to take pole position for the tenth time in eleven races.
Qualifying more than half a second slower with a time of 1:47.655, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg had dominated his 2014 world champion colleague in the early European races, but had to settle for second place on the podium after Hamilton returned to form to take the win at Silverstone, and finished eighth in Hungary after an unfortunate puncture when running second.
Bottas Takes P3 for Williams in Belgium
Expected to perform well on a fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit that suits their straight-line speed and Mercedes engine, the Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa qualified third and seventh respectively with times of 1:48.537 and 1:48.465. It marked the first time this season that Bottas has qualified in the top three.
Bad Day for Ferrari at Spa-Francorchamps
Stunningly jumping the Mercedes’ at start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Ferrari’s four-time world champion and now two-time 2015 race winner, Sebastian Vettel, recorded his second win of the season before the F1 world took its summer break.
At Saturday’s Belgian GP qualifying session, however, Vettel made a mistake on his final lap of Q3 and finished a surprisingly low ninth with a time of 1:48.825. It was even worse for team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, though, as his car broke and ground to a halt in Q2, with a lap time of 1:49.288 qualifying him in fourteenth.
Red Bull Great in Practice But not in Qualifying
Earning an unexpected yet impressive double podium finish in the Hungarian Grand Prix, the Red Bull tandem of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat continued their form with top three and five finishes throughout practice in Belgium, but with times of 1:48.639 and 1:49.228, could only qualify sixth and twelfth for Sunday’s Belgian GP.
McLaren Given Record 105-Place Grid Penalty
After cashing in performance tokens and talking of how they’ve turned the corner at McLaren-Honda since the Hungarian GP – where Alonso finished fifth- the team made further engine changes for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix and have been hit with a record 105-place grid penalty.
As such, the 1:50.978 time of Jenson Button and 1:51.420 fastest lap mark of Fernando Alonso mean that they will start Sunday’s race at the back of the grid.
Belgian Grand Prix Betting
For the race winner, it’s clear that the Mercedes’ cars are much quicker than the rest of the field on the fast Spa-Francorchamps circuit so it looks like a two-horse race even more so than normal this time.
Of course, Bottas could jump Hamilton at the start of the race – and it’ll certainly be an interesting beginning for the new, no radio instruction allowed start procedure – but the Mercs still have the pace to catch up as we’ve seen before.
Now, Hamilton did put in a marvellously quick lap to take pole and should win the race, but he’s failed to finish in three of his last four Belgian Grand Prix and it’s arguably make or break time for Rosberg as Hamilton has proved to be better in the final few races of the calendar in the past, so Nico needs to close the gap now.
With at least second place likely and 1/3 place odds at 3/1 returning stakes if he does finish as runner up, we’ll take the German each-way.
Advised Bet: Rosberg e/w (1/3 odds) race winner at 3/1 with SkyBet
Tune into Sky Sports F1 from 12:30 on Sunday to watch the action unfold