Slip slidin’ away in Belgian spa

Well, what a difference the rain makes. 

The grid for tonight’s Belgian Grand Prix seemed almost certain to be more of the same, a mix of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull for the first three rows.

And such was the case at the end of Q2, but when Q3 started, so did the rain, turning the long Spa Franchorchamps circuit into a spa of a different kind.

The end result: One Merc in front, then one Ferrari, with the Red Bulls way down in 7th and 8th.

In between the usual pecking order were two Force Indias and a Haas.

While it was a simply wonderful session for the newly resurrected Force India team, which I think was its best qualifying ever, credit must go to Lewis Hamilton, who put in an amazing lap to claim pole.

“That was one of the toughest qualifying sessions I can remember,” he said.

“I can’t express to you how difficult it was.

“None of us have driven in the rain this weekend.

“I went off at Turn 1, you’re tiptoeing, you don’t know where the limit is, the track looks dry in some places — but it’s actually wet.

“With these tyres, it was so hard. I went off twice, but I managed to keep it together.”

Teammate Valtteri Bottas, who will start from the back tonight because of an engine change penalty, had the scariest of moments when his Merc did a massive gilhooley  at the near flat-out Blanchimont bend.

The car went into a loop at about 320km/h but didn’t hit anything and the Finn made it home unscathed.

Sergio Perez also had a hairy high speed moment, almost whacking the wall at Radillon, but collected the Force India and stormed on to fourth place.

Hamilton’s pole was his fifth at Spa and in doing so he surpassed the qualifying records of the great Juan Manuel Fangio and Ayrton Senna.

So the grid looks like this, with the race due to kick off tonight at 11.10pm AEST:

  1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  3. Esteban Ocon (Force India)
  4. Sergio Perez (Force India)
  5. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
  6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
  7. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  8. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
  9. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
  10. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)


Forecast is for dry weather tonight.

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