Hamilton leads Mercedes power top five at Spa

Hamilton Spa 2015

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton achieved his tenth pole of the season at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit by beating his team-mate Nico Rosberg by quite some margin.

This was Hamilton’s 48th career pole in P1 and his sixth consecutive, matching Michael Schumacher’s record in 2000 and ’01. This achievement also clinched the FIA pole trophy for 2015.

Rosberg was narrowly faster than his team-mate in Q2 at Spa, but the reigning world champion reversed the situation by a massive 0.446 seconds after their respective first runs in Q3, then lowered his lap time to a 1m47.197s on his second run to secure pole.

Valtteri Bottas achieved a solid third for Williams while Romain Grosjean recorded his best-ever qualifying position with fourth. Big shame for the Lotus driver to drop down the grid come race day no thanks to the penalty.

Sergio Perez made it a Mercedes-powered top five for Sauber, showcasing the serious grunt ‘the three-pointed star’ at Spa.

Ferrari would normally be expected to fill row two of the grid, but Sebastian Vettel could only lap ninth fastest in his SF15-T, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen failed to make it into Q3 at all after his car broke down on track with what the team believes was a loss of oil pressure.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top six, ahead of Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado.

Carlos Sainz Jr’s Toro Rosso completed the top ten, despite well adrift of the rest of the Q3 runners.

Perez had set a solid fourth-best time in Q2, but Nico Hulkenberg failed to make the top ten, finishing up over three tenths adrift of his Force India team-mate in P11.

Daniel Kvyat was another surprise failure in Q2, finishing up P12, ahead of Marcus Ericsson.

As for the ‘king of Spa’ Kimi Raikkonen, The Iceman ended up in P14, ahead of the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen, who took not part in Q2 after suffering a suspected loss of power with his Renault engine in Q1.

Sauber’s Felipe Nasr was the big loser among the tight midfield battle in Q1.

Verstappen’s Toro Rosso was vulnerable thanks to a suspected loss of power early on in his final flying lap, but Nasr fell short of beating the teenager by 0.121 seconds, so wound up P16.

Jenson Button was a second further back in the best of the McLaren-Hondas.

The 2009 world champion described his time of one minute, 50.978 seconds effort as “the best lap I’ve done for a long time”, but it was only good enough for P17…

Team-mate Fernando Alonso was nearly half a second adrift in the other MP4-30, after sitting out the final practice session with an exhaust leak.

Will Stevens won the private battle of the Manor/Marussias at the bottom of the timesheet, beating team-mate Roberto Merhi by 0.151 seconds.

Spa 2015 Mercedes

Qualifying times from Spa-Francorchamps:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m47.197s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m47.655s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m48.537s
4    Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Mercedes    1m48.561s
5    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m48.599s
6    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m48.639s
7    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m48.685s
8    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    1m48.754s
9    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m48.825s
10    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m49.771s
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m49.121s
12    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    1m49.228s
13    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m49.586s
14    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    No time
15    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m49.952s
16    Will Stevens    Marussia-Ferrari    1m52.948s
17    Roberto Merhi    Marussia-Ferrari    1m53.099s
18    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    No time
19    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m50.978s*
20    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m51.420s*

*Grid penalties for changing power units

4 thoughts to “Hamilton leads Mercedes power top five at Spa”

  1. Mercedes Formula 1 drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton remain concerned about the possibility of tyre problems in the Belgian Grand Prix despite Pirelli’s reassurance over Rosberg’s Friday practice blowout.

    Rosberg was pitched into a high-speed spin on the approach to Blanchimont in Friday afternoon F1 practice at Spa when a rear tyre burst.

    After a detailed investigation, Pirelli concluded that it was the result of an external object – such as a piece of debris – cutting the tyre rather than any form of structural failure.

    But after qualifying second to team-mate Hamilton, Rosberg said he was not completely reassured.

    “The problem is that we don’t really understand it,” he said.

    “There are theories but there is no real evidence, so that’s a bit worrying for sure.

    “We’re keeping a very close eye on it and we’ve done some measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    “We’ll just do the best we can and hope it all stays together.”

    Hamilton added he was unsure what would happen with tyre wear, regardless of any potential for a repeat of Rosberg’s drama.

    “The tyres are an unknown from a degradation point of view, but also we’ve seen Nico’s issue yesterday, who knows what will happen in the race?” he said.

    World champion Hamilton clinched the FIA’s 2015 pole trophy in Spa qualifying as he claimed his 10th pole in 11 grands prix.

    Although it was his fourth pole at Spa, he said it was the first time he had truly mastered the middle sector – where the majority of his 0.450-second margin over Rosberg was established.

    “Sector two has been probably in the past a bit of a weak point,” Hamilton admitted.

    “I knew the lines but could never really put the corners together.

    “Definitely on those last two laps that was a very, very strong area for me.”

    Rosberg had the edge on Hamilton during Friday practice but conceded he had no answer for his team-mate in qualifying.

    “I lost a little bit this morning in free practice, we went the wrong way,” said Rosberg.

    “Then it came back really nicely and I had a good balance in qualifying.

    “Lewis was just too quick in the end. He found quite a lot extra which I didn’t have in my pocket.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  2. This is going to be a challenging race for McLaren, due to a lack of power from Honda. In addition, thanks to the numerous engine changes which resulted in an incredible 105-grid penalty, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso are resigned to lonely race. Autosport.com has the story.

    Jenson Button fears he and McLaren-Honda Formula 1 team-mate Fernando Alonso face a lonely battle with each other in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.

    Honda motorsport boss Yasuhisa Arai had suggested his company’s upgraded engine would come close to matching Ferrari’s power output.

    Yet Button and Alonso qualified 17th and 18th at Spa-Francorchamps, with the former finishing a second adrift of Felipe Nasr’s Ferrari-powered Sauber just ahead.

    With grid penalties to come for a double engine change, amassing a record-breaking but meaningless 105 places combined (Button 50, Alonso 55), the duo will start from the back row of the grid.

    “Beating Fernando is probably the only positive,” said Button.

    “I felt I got everything out of the car, that it was as good as my qualifying lap in 2012 when I put it on pole, except I’m 17th and a few seconds off the pace.

    “I actually enjoyed driving the car, and when you cross the finishing line and you see the time you think ‘That’s not bad’.

    “But then when you see where you are, a second off the guy in front of you, it’s a massive margin, it hurts.

    “That’s puzzling and disappointing, and shows there is a lot of work needed to close that gap, and a long way to go before we feel happy with the package we have.

    “There’s definitely more power with the engine at least, but you always want more than you see, and we’re still a long way off.”

    As for the race, Button is not expecting to see too much action.

    “It’s not going to be easy to make up any ground,” he said.

    “The only people we are going to be able to overtake are the Manors, and the rest will be gone.

    “It will be Fernando and myself battling it out, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing another car until they lap us.

    “The challenging part will be driving around for 44 laps on our own. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep each other company and make it a bit more fun.”

    Alonso is only concerned about trying to put mileage on the new power unit and hoping the team can learn from it.

    “I need many things to happen tomorrow,” said Alonso when asked if was considering a points finish.

    “I talk before about rain, but probably we need more than the rain. We need a very chaotic race, let’s say.

    “But I think the target tomorrow cannot be the points to be honest. We have to be realistic, we are not competitive at all.

    “The target tomorrow is to learn about the car and keep putting mileage.”

  3. Championship contender Sebastian Vettel admits ‘costly’ qualifying mistake that resulted in the Ferrari driver to start the Belgian Grand Prix in ninth position. Autosport.com has the details.

    Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel was left kicking himself for “a costly mistake” that compromised his lap and left him ninth in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

    While Mercedes was in a class of its own at Spa-Francorchamps, third place on the grid was closely contested.

    Come the conclusion, just 0.288 seconds separated third place to ninth, but Vettel had to settle for the last of those positions courtesy of an error late on in his final hot lap in Q3.

    After winning last time out in Hungary, Vettel now faces a tall order to put Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton under any further pressure in the title battle, with the gap between the duo at 42 points.

    “The last race doesn’t matter now, but it’s always disappointing [to finish so far down in qualifying] when you consider I had a good feeling throughout,” said Vettel.

    “Probably the worst lap, or the worst part [of qualifying] for us was the last one.

    “We only had one set of [soft] tyres due to the red flag earlier [caused by team-mate Kimi Raikkonen’s failure in Q2], but still, I was fine until the last corner where I lost too much time.

    “I went in a bit too deep, had a very poor exit and lost quite a lot of time, two tenths, not enough to go P3, but enough to be higher than P9.

    “It was a costly mistake and I’m not happy with myself because it was very tight from P3 onwards. We were at the right end of it in Q2, but at the wrong end in Q3.”

    Vettel, though, firmly believes he can make up positions in the race.

    “We have made impressive progress on our side,” he said.

    “Our straightline speed is good, and that makes me fairly confident for the race as this is a place where you can overtake.

    “I feel we’re quicker than the cars in front, so we’ll see how it pans out. Surely the target for both of us is to make progress.”

    Raikkonen will start 14th after losing drive from his Ferrari early in Q2, forcing him to park his car on the side of the track shortly before Stavelot.

    With Ferrari still investigating exactly what happened, Raikkonen said: “We lost drive and obviously I had to stop. I’m sure we’ll find out exactly the problem.”

    The Finn knows he faces a fight to make up places with eight Mercedes-powered cars among those ahead of him, but is confident race pace can prove beneficial.

    “All the Mercedes engined-cars are there and they seem to be pretty strong here, but our car’s been handling nicely all weekend

    “We’ve been good in the top speed, and obviously race pace is something we hope is going to change in the race, in our favour.”

  4. Jenson Button believes beating Spaniard Fernando Alonso was the only highlight of a tough day of F1 qualifying in Spa.

    Jenson Button says beating team-mate Fernando Alonso was “the only positive” from a difficult qualifying session for McLaren at Spa-Francorchamps.

    McLaren’s drivers have a combined grid penalty of 105 places having taken a number of new power unit components this weekend after Honda introduced an upgrade. In qualifying, both cars dropped out in Q1 but Button was half a second faster than Alonso in 17th and 18th positions respectively.

    When it was put to him that beating Alonso was a positive result, Button replied: “That is probably the only positive.

    “I actually enjoyed driving it today, I mean all weekend it’s been a bit tricky – rear of the car on entries. But qualifying was much better. It’s funny because you cross the line and think that maybe that lap was good enough to be a lot further up – that lap here was equal to the lap I did to get pole position here three years ago.

    Source: F1i.com

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