Hamilton Takes Pole Position At The Belgium Grand Prix
The Formula One action returns, following a near one month break.
As many F1 fans will know, the break in action is limited to just racing, as contracts were signed (or not), and the huge game of driving Tetris begins.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the changes, here is an update for you.
No changes here. Expect to see Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas back for the 2019 season as contracts have been signed.
The biggest surprise of the break was the departure of Daniel Ricciardo. At the end of the 2018 season, Daniel will be moving teams, leaving behind Max Verstappen, who will partner newbie; Pierre Gasly (moving from Toro Rosso to Redbull).
Sebastian Vettel isn’t going anywhere, and is under contract. There are still rumours flying that his teammate for 2019 is up for debate. Kimi Raikkonen has yet to sign a contract, so he may not be staying at Ferrari.
Following his move from Redbull; Daniel Ricciardo will partner Nico Hulkenberg in the 2019 F1 season.
As you will know, Fernando Alonso has decided to retire from F1 at the end of the 2018 season, leaving his place vacant at the McLaren garage. McLaren has confirmed Carlos Sainz’s move to McLaren, but there is no confirmation as to whether current 2018 driver; Stoffel Vandoorne will partner him in 2019.
Force India, Williams & Sauber
Both places are still to be confirmed. Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon are still to decide their 2019 F1 fate. The same can be said for Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin who are both still unsure of their F1 future.
For Sauber, Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson are still to determine their fate, but rumour has it that Leclerc could be taking Raikkonen’s place at Ferrari for 2019.
Toro Rosso & Haas
Both Toro Rosso and Haas have yet to confirm their drivers. With Gasly moving from Toro Rosso to Redbull, his seat is now vacant at the Toro Rosso garage. Brendon Hartley has also yet to confirm his future. Both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are still to be confirmed.
With that out the way, here is how today’s qualifying played out.
Hamilton will sit on pole position in tomorrow's race, with Vettel and Ocon in second, and third respectively.
It is important to remember how long this track really is. It is the longest by distance on the calendar and quick runs are very few and far between.
Hamilton is one the first to set a lap in Q1 with a 1:43.5 but this is soon overtaken by Raikkonen by a second in speed. Vettel comes in after Raikkonen, but still half a second down on Raikkonen’s time.
Coming in with a 1:43.1 was Verstappen, followed by a 1:44.5 by Ricciardo.
With just under six minutes remaining of Q1, Raikkonen still leads Hamilton, Vettel and Verstappen. Interestingly, the soft tyres seem to be the best performing with the three top drivers being the only ones on them.
Ocon and Perez had a very good Q1 sitting in 5th and 6th for Force India. Ocon qualified in 3rd position, and Perez qualified in 4th position.
Bottas recorded a strong enough time to enter Q2 in 14th place, but that didn’t really matter for him because no matter what, he would be starting at the back of the grid due to a penalty given pre-race.
Out in Q1: Sainz, Stroll, Sirotkin, Vandoorne and Alonso.
Q2, and Raikkonen was fastest with 10 minutes to go, leading Hamilton and Vettel with a 1:41.627. Bottas and Hulkenberg did not set a time in Q2, and will both face penalties that puts them at the back of the grid.
With 4 minutes remaining of Q2, it was noted that spectators opened their umbrellas, and put on their raincoats for the impending rain. In the last 60 seconds, Vettel puts in the fastest time of 1:41.501, pushing Raikkonen into second, and Hamilton into 3rd going into Q3.
It looks like the top 10 will be starting the race tomorrow on Super Soft tyres.
Out in Q2: Hulkenberg, Gasly, Harley, Leclerc and Ericsson.
Q2 managed to stay dry, but the same couldn’t be said for Q3. Drivers were queuing up to get out on the track as quick as possible.
Bottas was the first car to struggle in the rain, having to use a run off section of the lap. Redbull, Ferrari and Mercedes all come in to put intermediates on, with Redbull managing to re-tyre both cars before even Ferrari or Mercedes could do one car.
With 7 minutes remaining of Q3, not one car had set a time. Ricciardo had struggled in his first lap in Q3, facing grip issues. Max Verstappen however, was in his element recording a 2:02.849 which was soon overtaken by Raikkonen with a 2:02.671. Vettel comes in next, with a 2:02.446, leading qualifying with two minutes remaining.
Hamilton recorded a very quick lap on his last racing lap of the day with a 1:58.179 which gave him pole. Behind Hamilton was Vettel followed by an incredible run by Ocon, and Perez who will start the race 3rd, and 4th respectively.
Here is how qualifying finished.
#1: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1:58.179
#2: Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 1:58.905
#3: Esteban Ocon - Force India/Mercedes - 2:01.851
#4: Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes - 2:01.894
#5: Romain Grosjean - Haas/Ferrari - 2:02.122
#6: Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 2:02.671
#7: Max Verstappen - Red Bull/Renault - 2:02.769
#8: Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault - 2:02.939
#9: Kevin Magnussen - Haas/Ferrari - 2:04.933
#10: Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - NO TIME (will start at the back of the grid)
#11: Pierre Gasly - Toro Rosso/Honda - 1:43.844
#12: Brendon Hartley - Toro Rosso/Honda - 1:43.865
#13: Charles Leclerc - Sauber/Ferrari - 1:44.062
#14: Marcus Ericsson - Sauber/Ferrari - 1:44.301
#15: Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - NO TIME (will start at the back of the grid)
#16: Carlos Sainz - Renault - 1:44.489
#17: Fernando Alonso - McLaren/Renault - 1:44.917
#18: Sergey Sirotkin - Williams/Mercedes - 1:44.998
#19: Lance Stroll - Williams/Mercedes - 1:45.134
#20: Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren/Renault - 1:45.307
Watch the first race back after the season break tomorrow, on Channel 4 from 2pm.