Lewis Hamilton on pole position at Belgian Grand Prix

Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton set pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix half a second clear of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton was fastest on both laps in the final session and beat Bottas by 0.511secs. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was just 0.015secs off the Finn.

Daniel Ricciardo excelled with fourth place on the grid, ahead of the second Red Bull of Alexander Albon.

Ferrari struggled, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel down in 13th and 14th.

Hamilton’s performance was one of his most impressive, the Briton taking his 93rd pole with two laps in another dimension than Bottas could manage.

On his first, Hamilton was 0.578secs clear of Bottas, and although the Finn improved on his second run, so did Hamilton.

Over team radio after the lap, he dedicated his performance to the actor Chadwick Boseman, most famous as the star of the Black Panther film, who died of bowel cancer overnight.

Hamilton said: “Very clean session. Every laps was getting better and better.

“It is a really important pole to me. I woke up to the saddest news of Chadwick passing away and it has been such a heavy year for all of us and that news really broke me.

“It was not easy to get back in focus with that hanging in my heart but I wanted to get back up there because what he has done for our people will be remembered for ever.

“Q3 first lap was ace, and I thought I was not going to be able to beat that. But then I have been struggling in Turn One all weekend, I got that and then eked it out for the rest of the lap. That was a very, very good lap.”

Bottas said he felt he had done a good lap and could not explain the gap to Hamilton. In fact, his bigger concern was Verstappen, who was brilliant again in the Red Bull and came so close to edging on to the front row.

Renault on the up

Renault had high hopes for this weekend after a strong performance at Spa-Francorchamps last year and they delivered.

Ricciardo was third after the first runs, ahead of Verstappen. And while he could not improve on his second run, fourth is an impressive performance.

His team-mate Esteban Ocon confirmed Renault’s strength with sixth place, just over 0.3secs behind the Australian.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz was seventh, ahead of the Racing Points of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll and the second McLaren of Lando Norris.

More to follow

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