Lewis Hamilton on pole position at Belgian Grand Prix

The top three in qualifying: 1st Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2nd Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), 3rd Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

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

Hamilton was fastest on both laps in the final qualifying session and beat Bottas by 0.511secs. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was 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, as he took his 93rd pole with two laps in another dimension to what Bottas could manage.

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

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

Lewis Hamilton on top of his car paying tribute to Chadwick Boseman

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. 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

Daniel Ricciardo

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.

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.

What happened at Ferrari?

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari locked out the front row in Belgium in 2019, a stark contrast from their performance on Saturday, when they had to battle even to get out of the first qualifying session.

They always expected to have a difficult weekend at Spa because of their lack of straight-line speed, which has been caused by a series of rule clarifications over the winter that led to them losing engine performance.

This was the first time this year neither red car has made it into the top 10 and more difficulties can be expected at their home race in Italy next weekend, where straight-line speed is even more important.

In the end, so bad had they looked at times through the weekend, getting both cars into the second session could even be counted as an achievement of sorts – Vettel was slowest of all in final practice and Leclerc only 17th.

But that will be no consolation to the Italian team, who are facing one of their worst seasons for many years.

Leclerc swore over the radio at the end of his lap and said: “There was not much more I could do.”

In the second session, the Ferraris managed to beat only the Williams of George Russell.

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