Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rosberg Hot Lap Wins Belgian GP Pole While Hamilton Feels the Heat

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Coming back after a nearly month-long summer break, competitors of the 2016 Formula 1 season had time to ponder the first 12 grand prix races of the season in relative quietness. Returning to the cockpit at the historical Spa-Francorchamps that has been a favourite for many drivers, reflection must turn to reaction for the teams and their pilots in order to make the final 9 races count,

Into the second stretch of the 2016 Formula 1 tour, one of the most anticipated stories is the contentious on-track rivalry between Mercedes AMG's drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Rosberg started the 2016 season off on a high note by winning the first four races on the calendar but fell from grace when his reigning world champion Hamilton returned to this winning ways and was successfully able to turn up the intimidation factor on his German teammate. Lewis Hamilton has accumulated a 19-point lead on Nico Rosberg thanks to strong results in the months of June and July. The Belgian Grand Prix has been storied to bringing the competitive Mercedes AMG teammates to a boiling point in 2014 when the cars collided in a lap two incident. For the start of the 2016 edition of the Belgian Grand Prix, it's unlikely a repeat of the 2014 race will occur.

Qualifying for the 2016 Grand Prix of Belgium saw Nico Rosberg claiming an advantage of pole position for a sixth time this season. Lapping the 7.004-kilometer Spa-Francorchamps track with a 1-minute, 46.744-second lap time in Q3, Rosberg's effort was .0149 seconds faster than fellow front row starter Max Verstappen driving a Red Bull-TAG Heuer machine. Verstappen was able to greatly outrun his Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo who settles for a fifth place starting spot.

Still chasing a team victory for 2016, Scuderia Ferrari teammates claim the second row of the grid for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikkonen starts third after registering a Q3 lap time almost two-tenths of a second quicker than teammate Sebastian Vettel. The two former Formula 1 World Champions collectively hold six victories in the grand prix event (Raikkonen with four and Vettel with two).

Both cars belonging to Force India and Williams Martini Racing teams are found in the latter part of the top-10. Starting 9th, Jenson Button is continuing the show the improvement of the McLaren-Honda team following the 2015 qualifying session where only the Manor Marussia cars were slower than their pace. Speaking off the Manor Racing team, Pascal Wehrlien and his crew were able to accomplish an impressive feat for the organization by cracking into the Q2 session of qualifying. Wehrlein will start 16th with a Manor-Mercedes race car in Belgium ahead of his new teammate Esteban Ocon. A 2015 GP3 Series champion, the Frenchman Ocon replaces Indonesian Rio Haryanto who is now the Manor Racing team's reserve driver.

As Nico Rosberg took pole, Lewis Hamilton's weekend requiring power unit changes to this Mercedes AMG race car resulted in qualifying being an uncontested affair for matter for the Brit. Clocking 21st in the Q1 session and starting 22nd on Sunday, Hamilton logged a slow time just to insure a grid spot. While Nico Rosberg has the potential of retaking the point lead by winning the grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps, Hamilton has a likelihood of minimizing the damage by achieving a finish inside the top-10.

Start time for the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix is set for 2 PM local time (8 AM Eastern time).

2016 Formula 1
Belgian Grand Prix
Starting Lineup

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
3 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
5 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
6 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
9 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda
10 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
11 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
12 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
13 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
14 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
15 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
16 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
17 31 Esteban Ocon Manor Mercedes-Benz
18 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
19 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
21 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
22 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz

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