Defending champion Lewis Hamilton achieved his sixth Belgian Grand Prix pole position and dedicated this qualifying result in honour of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, who passed away with cancer.
Hamilton set a new track record around Spa-Francorchamps to score pole position and he finishes ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and rival Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.
Both Mercedes and Verstappen will start the race on the medium Pirelli compound as they were able to get through Q2 on what is a better race tyre than the red-walled softs the rest of the top ten will start on in a dry race.
Ferrari managed to avoid losing a driver in Q1, but Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were both eliminated in the next segment, one year on from Leclerc taking pole position at Spa.
When it came to Q3, Hamilton led the way after the opening runs with a one minute, 41.451 seconds – a new track record for the time, while Bottas had time to make up after locking up and running wide on the large kerb at the exit of La Source.
But while Bottas was able to improve early on the final runs on the soft tyres in Q3, Hamilton went even faster – setting personal best times in the first and third sector, and going fastest of anyone in the middle part of the track, where Mercedes has been dominant all weekend.
The world champion’s last lap looked in control all the way around as he blasted to a one minute, 41.252 seconds to improve the best time.
Running behind, Bottas lost time all around his final lap and wound up 0.511 seconds adrift.
Verstappen was left frustrated to finish just 0.15 second behind Bottas, complaining that he ran out of battery energy at the end of his final lap.
Daniel Ricciardo will start fourth after Verstappen’s last-gasp lap pushed him down one spot, with the Renault driver abandoning his final effort.
Alex Albon is fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon, who found enough time with the session’s final flying lap to deny Carlos Sainz Jr P6 for McLaren.
Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll took eighth and ninth after only completing one run in Q3, while Lando Norris rounded out the top ten after setting a personal best on his last run but not finding enough time to move up the order.
Personal best times were not enough to save Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly from elimination in Q2, as the Racing Point drivers gained significantly from their first attempts to get through the middle segment on the medium tyres.
Stroll and Perez jumping up the order from P11 and P12 after the first runs ultimately did for the AlphaTauri’s despite their own improvements, which meant they ended up in the positions just outside the top ten.
Both Ferrari’s were ultimately knocked out in Q2 for the first time in 2020, with Leclerc heading Vettel in P13.
This was a shocking qualifying result and it underlines the poor performance in that SF1000.
George Russell again got his Williams into Q2, but abandoned his first run, with his second good enough only for P15 after the Ferrari’s found time on their second efforts.
In Q1, Vettel was under pressure to improve after he sat P19 after the first runs had been completed, but the danger of both works Ferrari’s being knocked out in the opening segment remained.
A battling warm-up lap for the drivers still needing to improve to progress left both Vettel and Leclerc having to run without a tow at the head of a pack of cars.
But they still managed to improve enough to get through to Q2, with Vettel jumping up six spots, although Leclerc had a nervous wait as he was shuffled down to P15, complaining later about the lack of a tow.
The top four drivers knocked out in Q1 all set personal bests, but Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi could not match the delighted and surprised Russell in splitting the Ferraris.
They will start P15-P19, with Kevin Magnussen last in the second Haas after his final run was ruined by a long trip through the Stavelot gravel trap, where he nearly ran into the wall to his left as he struggled to slow his car.
So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this fine pole position. Nice tribute by the six-time champion to dedicated this P1 in honour of Chadwick Boseman. Wakanda Forever!
Qualifying positions, Belgian Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:41.252
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:41.763
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:41.778
4 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:42.061
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:42.264
6 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:42.396
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:42.438
8 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:42.532
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:42.603
10 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:42.657
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:42.730
12 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:42.745
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:42.996
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:43.261
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:43.468
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:43.743
17 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:43.838
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:43.950
19 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:44.138
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:44.314