2014 BELGIAN GP: ROSBERG CLAIMS POLE POSITION FOR MERCEDES AMG

Mercedes AMG driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position at Spa, becoming the sixth different driver to sit on pole in Belgium in the last six years. He beat his team mate Lewis Hamilton in tricky conditions, with Mercedes enjoying a pace advantage of around two seconds over rival teams. A heavy rain shower before qualifying meant that the session started with just 19 degrees of track temperature and 10 degrees ambient, on a fully wet track. There was a mixture of intermediates and full wets in Q1, with all the drivers eventually moving onto the intermediate by the end of the session.

As the 18-minute session wore on a dry line was began to form and gradually the whole field switched to inters. With three minutes left in the session, Hamilton and Rosberg were in control at the top of the timesheet, but at the bottom the drivers in the drop zone were Andre Lotterer and Marcus Ericsson of Caterham, Marussia’s Max Chilton, Sauber’s Adrian Sutil and the non-running Gutierrez and Force India’s Sergio Perez. Lotterer was also outside the 107% mark, his time of 2:19.870 well over three seconds adrift of the cut-off. The Le Mans winner made it through with his final lap, however, posting a time of 2:13.787 to finish just under a second in front of team-mate Ericsson, who finished in 22nd position.

Perez too made it out of the drop zone, rising to P12. It was the opposite for team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, however. The German dropped to 18th place and out of the session, complaining that his “brakes felt colder and colder” and that he had “lost all confidence” in his car. Also eliminated from the session were Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado who finished ahead of Hulkenberg, Marussia’s Max Chilton, Gutierrez, Lotterer and Ericsson. Rosberg topped the segment ahead of Hamilton, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas and fifth-placed Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne.

Intermediates were once more used by all the teams in Q2. The track dried out slightly right at the end of the session enabling a number of drivers to improve their times. The key to setting a quick time in the final Q3 shoot-out was to cross the finish line as late as possible in the session, but it was never sufficiently dry to move onto the slicks. Pole position was decided in a tense duel between the two Mercedes drivers in the very closing moments of the session. As a result of the rain today, all the teams will have practically a full allocation of new slick tyres for the race tomorrow.

 P.    DRIVER             TEAM           TIME       GAP  
 1. Nico Rosberg       Mercedes AMG   2:05.591           
 2. Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes AMG   2:05.819  +  0.228
 3. Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull       2:07.717  +  2.126
 4. Fernando Alonso    Ferrari        2:07.786  +  2.195
 5. Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull       2:07.911  +  2.320
 6. Valtteri Bottas    Williams       2:08.049  +  2.458
 7. Kevin Magnussen    McLaren        2:08.679  +  3.088
 8. Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari        2:08.780  +  3.189
 9. Felipe Massa       Williams       2:09.178  +  3.587
10. Jenson Button      McLaren        2:09.776  +  4.185
    Q2 fastest time: Lewis Hamilton 2:06.609             
11. Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso     2:09.377  +  2.768
12. Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso     2:09.805  +  3.196
13. Sergio Perez       Force India    2:10.084  +  3.475
14. Adrian Sutil       Sauber         2:10.238  +  3.629
15. Romain Grosjean    Lotus          2:11.087  +  4.478
16. Jules Bianchi      Marussia       2:12.470  +  5.861
    Q1 fastest time: Nico Rosberg 2:07.130               
17. Pastor Maldonado   Lotus          2:11.261  +  4.131
18. Nico Hulkenberg    Force India    2:11.267  +  4.137
19. Max Chilton        Marussia       2:12.566  +  5.436
20. Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber         2:13.414  +  6.284
21. Andre Lotterer     Caterham       2:13.469  +  6.339
22. Marcus Ericsson    Caterham       2:14.438  +  7.308
    107% time: 2:16.029