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.
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