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F1 Belgium GP Qualifying: Hamilton surges to record breaking and equalling pole

Lewis Hamilton has scorched around Spa-Francorchamps in a record breaking lap time to secure pole position for the Belgium Grand Prix, and equal an all time record of pole positions.

The British Mercedes driver put together a perfect lap in Qualifying three, to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 68 pole positions in Formula One.

“I can’t believe it,” said Hamilton after he got out the car.

“I have to say a big thank you to my team, Ross (Brawn) was a big part of me being here at this team, and the success we’ve had, he’s much a part of that as well.

“Its an amazing feeling and Spa is one of my favourite circuits, so to come here and put a lap like that together is a dream, and I’ve got the best job in the world.”

The first of the three Qualifying sessions was a game of cat and mouse as Mercedes and Ferrari duked it out for early bragging rights.

Sebastian Vettel punched in an early fast lap, but that was bettered by Hamilton who went across the line in a 1:44.184 despite major vibrations exiting the final corner.

Most of the top teams only opted to do a single run in the first session with both the Ferrari’s and Mercedes completing their laps on the SuperSoft tyre.

The final minutes of the session were a fight to get out of the elimination zone, with five drivers to get knocked out of the next Qualifying phase.

As the chequered flag dropped it was a disappointment for Williams, with both of their drivers in the bottom five and knocked out of Q1, 16th position for Felipe Massa and 18th for Lance Stroll.

Daniil Kvyat was also eliminated for Torro Rosso in 17th place, while Marcus Ericsson out qualified his team-mate Pascal Wherlein for the third time in 2017, the two Saubers falling into 19th and 20th respectively.

Qualifying two got off to a rapid start with the top five separated by 0.448s after the first runs. Hamilton was quick out the bag putting him in first place, critically though, Vettel in fourth behind Max Verstappen.

McLaren were playing smart games, sending Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso out together, to try and give the latter a tow down the straight and get him into Q3.

Because of his 65-place grid penalty for multiple engine component changes and the clear certainty that he would be starting from last, Vandoorne assisted with that as Alonso pulled out at the last minute using up every last little bit of his tow courtesy of his Belgium team-mate.

The Spanish driver got all the way around to Blanchimont until he exclaimed over the radio..”no power!” and returned to the pits, ending up in 11th and the first knocked out of Q2.

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were also eliminated, while Carlos Sainz and Vandoorne completed the list.

The third and final Qualifying session got off to a smoky start for Jolyon Palmer when he lost gearbox oil pressure and ground to halt at Stavelot.

All eyes though were on the timing screens, as Hamilton blitzed to P1 by 0.3s over Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas and Vettel as the first runs concluded.

When the chequered flag fell, there was no stopping one man, and thats Lewis Hamilton.

The Brit set an astonishing 1:42.907, two tenths ahead of Vettel who parked his Ferrari on the front row of the grid ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen, who was cheered on by 80,000+ Dutch fans trackside.

Daniel Ricciardo finished the session in sixth place in the second of the Red Bull’s, while Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the top nine with Palmer retiring at the start of Q3, in tenth.

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