Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hamilton's Pole Leads Magnificent Mercedes-Benz Showing in Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

With almost a month passing between late July's Hungarian Grand Prix and this weekend's event on the famed Spa-Francorchamps course, a summer break must have certainly given drivers as well as whole teams time to consider their progress in the 2015 Formula 1 season. After 10 races down, the Belgian Grand Prix provides the ideal opportunity to advance on success found in the season so far or to establish a better course through the nine remaining events on the tour.

Back in the saddle again, 20 drivers belted into their highly-tuned, hybrid-powered race machines were unleashed for Belgian Grand Prix qualifying on the quick, challenging 7.004-kilometer track. Transitioning from a slower, tight circuit they last competed on in July, pilots of Formula 1 drivers once again familiarized themselves with blazing fast speeds. For drivers seated inside vehicles propelled by Mercedes-Benz, the time trial was an exceptional return to 2015 competition.

As if nothing his changed over the static period of August, the Mercedes AMG added to their undefeated streak in qualifying for 2015. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg decided not to play any games by sweeping 1-2 in all sessions of the Saturday time trials at Spa-Francorchamps. Trading the top spot in Q1 and Q2, the Mercedes AMG teammates fought in a contentious Q3 session. With a 1-minute, 47.197-second lap time, the pole went to Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton`s top time was 0.458 seconds faster than teammate Nico Rosberg`s best run and more than 1.3 seconds quicker than third place in qualifying. The front row start for Mercedes AMG in Belgium is also the team`s 22nd consecutive pole. The current Formula 1 record of pole positions claimed by the vehicles of a single constructor is Williams with 24 scored from 1992 through to 1993.

A season-best effort, Williams Martini Racing driver Valtteri Bottas will be starting in third place. The result for Bottas equals the team's best qualifying spot of the year obtained by Felipe Massa in Australia. Massa starts in sixth place on Sunday. Once again, the efforts of Mercedes-Benz power units proved to be the go-to method for going fast in the 2015 Formula 1 season. The top-five vehicles in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying are powered by gasoline/electric propulsion from the German automaker. Unfortunately, a gearbox charge for the Lotus-Mercedes race car of Romain Grosjean will demote the entry to the ninth-place spot on Sunday's starting grid. Taking the fourth place position Grosjean occupied, Force India and driver Sergio Perez have backed-up on a stunning performance in practice at Spa-Francorchamps. The Mercedes-powered Force India's best finish this season is a sixth-place effort accomplished by Nico Hulkenberg. 

First to break the Mercedes-Benz brigade in qualifying for the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull-Renault's lap time was narrowly placed between Perez and Massa. With Ricciardo's Red Bull Racing car starting 5th on the grid Sunday, the second team car driven by Daniil Kvyat will start the race in the 12th place spot.

Starting on the fourth row of the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix grid beside the Lotus-Mercedes of Pastor Maldonado is the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. The most recent Formula 1 race winner, Vettel's car will be the only Ferrari-powered vehicle within the top-10 for the main event. Ferrari factory teammate Kimi Raikkonen is starting in 14th spot after not making a lap in Q2. The reason for Raikkonen's inaction after Q1 was an oil pressure issue.

This weekend, the McLaren Honda team has been utilizing revised power unit for the Belgian Grand Prix. Despite the cars driven by Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso being assessed a collective 105-grid position penalty for changes made by the team, the result is only a back of the grid starting spot for both McLaren-Honda vehicles. Thanks to a recently amended rule in Formula 1, there will be no further penalties in future races for this weekend's changes. On-track, it appears the Honda power unit with the McLaren chassis is still struggling to find speed to outrun all-but the Manor Maruassia cars in Belgium.

Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix is scheduled for 44 laps for a 2:00pm local time start (8:00am Eastern time).


2015 Formula 1

Belgian Grand Prix

Starting Grid

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
4 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Renault
6 19 Felipe Massa Williams Mercedes-Benz
7 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus Mercedes-Benz
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
9 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Mercedes-Benz
10 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
11 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Renault
13 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
14 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
15 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
16 28 Will Stevens Manor Marussia Ferrari
17 98 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia Ferrari
18 33 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault
19 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
20 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda

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