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GP Week : Issue 226
QUALIFYING 2015 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX 44 LAPS ROUND 11/19 << Last Race – Hungary Four Weeks Ago 1 Next Race – Italy >> Two Weeks’ Time 2015 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION 1 – Lewis Hamilton is the first man in this century to take 6 consecutive pole positions in a single season. The last man to do so was Mika Hakkinen back in 1999, and the last man to do it in any fashion was Michael Schumacher across 2000/01. In doing so, Hamilton has reached 10 poles, becoming only the 9th driver to do so in one year, but with 8 races still remaining. His pole time of 1:47.197 is the fastest lap of Spa since Mark Webber took pole in 2010 in 1:45.778. 2 – Additionally, Hamilton now has 19 consecutive front row starts, 5 short of Ayrton Senna’s record from 1988/89, and Mercedes AMG are now just 2 behind Williams’ record of 24 consecutive pole positions, set in 1992/93. This is the team’s 7th consecutive front row lockout, but unfortunately for Nico Rosberg, he has been the 2nd driver in those front row lockouts in the last 6 Grands Prix. This time he is 0.458s adrift, which is closer than he was in Hungary (0.575s). 3 – For the first time this year Valtteri Bottas is in the top-3 on the grid, but 1.340s off pole. It is Williams’ best start at Spa since Juan-Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher locked out the front row in 2001, while Sergio Perez has his best start anywhere since qualifying 4th at last year’s Bahrain GP, which led to his only podium finish since the end of the 2012 season. Daniel Ricciardo starts 5th, which is the same position from which he won last year’s Belgian GP, while Felipe Massa may “only” be 6th, but it is his best Belgian GP start since 2011. 4 – Pastor Maldonado started the last 2 Belgian GPs from 17th on the grid, but 7th here is a position he’s only improved upon once all year (when he was 6th on the grid in Canada). Sebastian Vettel’s 8th place is his worst of the year aside from his mechanically-induced Q1 elimination in Montreal, but he shouldn’t panic as he already has 2 previous podium finishes at Spa when starting this low – he was 3rd from 8th on the grid in 2009, and then 2nd from 10th on the grid in 2012. 5 – Romain Grosjean was rewarded for giving Lotus their best qualifying performance of the season by receiving a 5-place gearbox penalty, dropping him behind teammate Pastor Maldonado (dare I remind you that both Lotuses have been eliminated on the opening lap twice this season already). Carlos Sainz gave Toro Rosso their first top-10 start on this circuit since 2011, while Nico Hulkenberg missed reaching Q3 by 1 place for the 2nd race weekend in a row. 6 – Daniil Kvyat failed to reach Q3 for the first time since Bahrain, while Marcus Ericsson outqualified teammate Felipe Nasr for the 3rd consecutive race. He’s alongside Kimi Raikkonen, who suffered another mechanical failure and consequently has his lowest-ever start at Spa in 11 visits. Nasr, who was 23 on Friday, was knocked out in Q1 for the 3rd race running. The grid penalties mean that Will Stevens has the best start of his career in 16th, matching Jules Bianchi’s performance from 2014. For the 5th time this year, neither Mclaren progressed from Q1. Prior to 2015, that had only happened to Mclaren once in the 9 seasons since this format was adopted (Brazil 2009). overcome that deficiency in qualifying trim. In race trim things were different. The additional downforce and similar power levels should enable Raikkonen and Vettel to follow the car ahead and pick them off, unlike the Renault powered cars which were expected to be sitting ducks down the straights. So too are the Honda engines. The revised engine made no perceivable impact to McLaren's performance, leaving just two possibilities; firstly that the performance gain was nowhere close to what was expected or that the car is particularly inefficient aerodynamically. Jenson Button branded his best lap the equal of his pole position effort at the circuit three years ago but it was still a full second slower than the next best car, Felipe Nasr, in 16th. Interestingly, Will Stevens' Manor was only 1.5s off the pace of Fernando Alonso. Around the longest circuit on the calender, which has an emphasis on power, that should be ringing very loud alarm bells for those both back at Honda and the MTC. 24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> BELGIUM PARTNERS: