Hamilton as surprised as Vettel by last gasp pole position in Belgium
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Aug 2013   |  4:47 pm GMT  |  312 comments

For the second race in succession, Lewis Hamilton edged out Sebastian Vettel for pole position in the closing seconds of qualifying.

Hamilton’s career has been peppered with moments of inspiration and today saw another as he snatched pole for the Belgian GP from under Vettel’s nose in the closing stages of qualifying, as the rain fell.

It was the 31st pole position of Hamilton’s career and his fourth in a row this season -the first time he has done that in his F1 career. Vettel starts second tomorrow, with Mark Webber third, Nico Rosberg fourth ahead of Paul di Resta and Jenson Button.

“I was so surprised when I came across the line to hear I was P1,” said Hamilton. “I went wide in the first corner and I thought I was down on time from the read-out on my steering wheel. I just kept pushing and did a strong middle sector, then I could see I was catching Sebastian towards the end so it was a great feeling. I hope we can try and fight it out tomorrow, whatever the conditions. The Red Bulls are still ahead of us in terms of performance so results like this feel even more special because I know I’ve got the absolute maximum out of myself and out of the car.”

Hamilton would be the first to admit he had been chasing Vettel a bit when the track was dry, but once the rain came down in the closing stages, Hamilton found another gear, beating the German by two tenths of a second. It was as big a surprise to Hamilton as it was to Vettel and everyone else.

Hamilton dominated the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole position before the summer break and this pole – his fourth in a row this season – gives him a great chance to close the points gap to Vettel in the drivers’ table.

It stands at 48 points currently with a maximum 225 points available before the end of the season. He had not had the easiest weekend up to qualifying with difficulties during the practice sessions with getting the Mercedes balanced and getting the heat evenly into the tyres.

But now he has the track position advantage, he can be hopeful of holding off the Red Bulls down the long straights here, even if they were 10kms faster than him through the speed trap. This is placed at the top of Eau Rouge corner, but the straight that follows is long and the DRS activation zone is a long way down it. Mercedes has paid particular attention to balancing out gearing and drag so as not to get caught out in the race. Paddy Lowe, who moved from McLaren this year, has bitter experience of getting that wrong on Hamilton’s McLaren car last year here.

Mark Webber on his final F1 outing at Spa qualified third ahead of Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, while Paul di Resta almost took pole with an early gamble on intermediate tyres as the rain fell in Q3. He held provisional pole position for several minutes, but the rain suddenly eased in the closing moments of the session and with the track drying quickly in parts, it opened the door for Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Rosberg to beat him. Jenson Button also excelled in the tricky conditions with sixth for McLaren.

Red Bull’s driver in waiting Daniel Ricciardo had a frustrating afternoon, on the wrong tyre at the wrong time along with his team mate in Q1, as three of the back markers took a gamble on dry tyres on a wet track. Guido van der Garde qualified an impressive 14th, with Jules Bianchi 15th and Max Chilton a career best 16th.

It was a disappointing end to qualifying for the Ferraris and Lotus cars; Romain Grosjean was just 7th, with Kimi Raikkonen 8th and Fernando Alonso 9th. At various stages all three had looked capable of challenging at the front.

BELGIAN GRAND PRIX, Spa Francorchamps, Qualifying
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2m01.012s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 2m01.200s + 0.188s
3. Mark Webber Red Bull 2m01.325s + 0.313s
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2m02.251s + 1.239s
5. Paul di Resta Force India 2m02.332s + 1.320s
6. Jenson Button McLaren 2m03.075s + 2.063s
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus 2m03.081s + 2.069s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 2m03.390s + 2.378s
9. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2m03.482s + 2.470s
10. Felipe Massa Ferrari 2m04.059s + 3.047s

11. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m49.088s + 0.792s
12. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m49.103s + 0.807s
13. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m49.304s + 1.008s
14. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m52.036s + 3.740s
15. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m52.563s + 4.267s
16. Max Chilton Marussia 1m52.762s + 4.466s

17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 2m03.072s + 2.882s
18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 2m03.300s + 3.110s
19. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 2m03.317s + 3.127s
20. Valtteri Bottas Williams 2m03.432s + 3.242s
21. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 2m04.324s + 4.134s
22. Charles Pic

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What in the world did they put in the energy drink at RBR this weekend? It looks like Webber actually had a shave on a race weekend and Vettel’s hair has changed colour.


Two things I agree with in the [mod] written above. 1. Pole was a lottery won by Hamilton, who was clearly in the best car for the conditions. 2. James Allen should filter out the [mod] comments by people who clearly know nothing about F1. One more point I would like to make is that Webber is due a very bad start today, as he is right behind the Wonder Boy. Anyone want to bet against it.????


brilliant driver or just the last lap out in changable conditions? Is it a coincidence that the top 3 were the last 3 over the line? i think not. Go Kimi!


Has anyone considered that on a wet track you don’t want to hit every apex! It is about the fastest lap which is not necessarily the shortest lap in the wet. Being on a dry line is more important and we can’t know and critisize drivers for it from the sofa. Particularly if it put them on pole. Believe what James says, he knows his stuff.


To be fair Lewis himself said he didn’t do the final chicane very well. But you saw yesterday that the line in the wet is not the same as the line in the dry.

Schumacher used to be very good at finding the grippy line on the outside of a corner in the wet.


Shumi…. loved to see him drive here today…


Whenever Vettel’s on pole people choose to criticise other teams for not catching him, but when Lewis is pole, it is all down to the driver. Whom should we give credit to for Merc having a fastest car? Definetly not Lewis.

Maybe we should start calling it as Brawn’s car as everyone calls Newey car.

So now i would like to say anyone could have won if they had that Merc car.

Also many seem to have missed that Vettel outqualified Webber again.


Elie @ 42, you got it right on, again.

I must admit that the fawning of the British establishment over Lewis is tedious.

That being said, there is little doubt, amongst others, like you, paying attention, that Lewis is phenomenal.

I’d like to add that I really see Lewis at a new level, very recently clicked up to; and I expect that everybody will be able to see it during the race tomorrow; just a feeling.

I believe that any of the top tier could win on any given day, in the same equipment, I’d love to see Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi and Alonso!

But with the testing argy-bargy, the Hamilton-Mercedes package is second to none. I think all of this under-talking of it, is ongoing media damage control over the… ahem, test (you know the one I mean).

Hamilton is looking good for the driver’s championship this year.

I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow, and you can’t always take what is written down too seriously.

Keep the good comments coming.


But hoping Kimi can’t beat Lewis, from eighth on the grid, and hopefully score a Mercedes drive next year, and wouldn’t that be good to watch?!?


That should have been “…hoping Kimi CAN beat Lewis…”


Shame for F I making such an amateurish mistake in not sending their man out to do a last run. They had lots of time to prepare for it and even if the conditions were not promising, only a amateur leaves the tiniest chance to the likes of LH or SV snatching it.

Meantime – Hat’s off to LH for a stunning pole, and to SV for admitting it 🙂 SV is maturing nicely – I didn’t used to like him much, but now maybe……..


My fastest top 5 car-driver session

1. Rosberg

2 Webber

3. Vettel

4. Hamilton

In the dry the Renaults and Ferraris would have been in it too so the race could be a great one.

As it was the upside down scoreboard results were all by chance and late running.

A non Rosberg fan says he was mighty today. In this package he really is faster than Hamilton over a lap at most (but not all) tracks.

Go Mr Webber, you good thing.

Tornillo Amarillo

DI RESTA is a step closer of a bigger team with his qualify today.

And RICCIARDO… even farther away!


Di Resta is my star of the season this year, and I just do not see all of the positive hype about Ricciardo, justified, AT ALL.

Isn’t Ricciardo behind Vergne in points?


One race doesn’t change anything

Ricciardo is pretty much there


This weekend race will surely be a thriller with the mixed weather conditions. Let’s see where Alonso will finish as the Ferrari seems fast. With or without DRS Spa somehow will create many overtaking moves.


James, honestly I feel Ricciardo is overrated cos of the Red Bull seat.

Tornillo Amarillo

Tomorrow Sunday, it’s needed that someone take the fight against VETTEL…I’m worry about that.

I’m talking to put pressure on VETTEL while HAMILTON builds a gap, in such a case VETTEL will back off.

Maybe Webber or Rosberg at the beginning? Raikkonen or Alonso at the end?

It will be a difficult one, but somebody has to do it to keep the Championship alive.


Hamilton is going to beat Vettel this year.


I dont think so


does anyone find those blankets over the ferrari and red bull drivers’ knees ugly from the onboard footage? they look hiddious!


“forcing opponents to attack in anyway”

And ‘boy’ do they attack….

I hope Kimi goes to RBR though, he deserves a better car and better resources.


James why is the lotus one of the worst cars in wet conditions? Also do you think there is any substance in rumours suggesting Michelin may replace Pirelli next year


Because its gentle action on the tyres means it struggles to warm them in the wet


There are only Rosberg or Hamilton pole position this year.

Rosberg got 3 poles in a row, Hamilton now 4 – in a row!

It is Vettel against both Mercedes drivers and their superior car and nothing else.

Vettel’s poles were in Melbourne, Malaysia and Canada. Always extremly difficult…..

Especially Canada, Mercedese/McLaren territory.

Today, after canada on a non-RB-track it was rather dry at the end and Mercedes is perfect in dry conditions. They never show their hands on friday. They are short on engines, but big in PR, claiming not to understand the tires, the weather/the wind (only in Rosberg’s case) or how to boil water.


The Merc is the fastest over one lap but the Redbull was far quicker over long runs as the Merc was overheating tyres.

Now they have solved the tyre issue the two cars seem to be evenly matched.

Unless you put drivers in the same car you will always have disagreement over who is fastest.

That said Rosberg is faster than Hamilton.


I realise that your last sentence is just a poor attempt to try and goad Hamilton fans but I will humour you. Please explain how you have reached that conclusion. Lewis is ahead in qualifying 8/3 – that’s quite a convincing margin, wouldn’t you say?


My last comment is a poor attempt at humour.

I am a massive Hamilton fan.

At the start of the season Hamilton was faster than Rosberg but some posters still insisted that Rosberg was faster than Hamilton and it became an “in” joke to post that even though the lap times were in favour of Hamilton.


The driver is just the nut that holds the steering wheel. The cars are the stars


I cannot believe the number of haters that still exist out there. Im a Raikkonen fan but today in treacherous conditions we witnessed one of the greatest talents of F1 ever over a single lap. Sure we all appreciate the timing was right on the drying lap – but to be 1.4 sec faster in the middle sector was still amazing no matter what car configuration you run as the two red bulls were only seconds ahead as James pointed out on the very same lap.!

It paralyses me to know that people still doubt Lewis Hamiltons ability when he has put that car on pole on the last 4 outings despite his very talented and successful team mate in the very same car.I think it is in most peoples nature to judge on personalities rather than abilities !. I think also the truly great drivers have the capacity to shock others with their speed, Jenson warned Nico of this before the start of the season, Sebastian has experienced it more than once- think Austin 2012. Lewis reminds me of Kimi 2005-7 when he was at the peek of his quali pace- it just stunned people what he could get of a car. This kind of ability rattles egos – creating denials, leading to opposition, forcing opponents to attack in anyway they can to equalise. Quite often leading to Intra team politics and battles and others using other tactics to depose them. It happened with Kimi/ Massa-Schumacher 2008-9 and it happened with Jenson 2011-2. When certain people or their reputations are challenged by the legitimate people they will do whatever they can to change the status quo at a team. I hope the Mercedes structure does not change and for this reason .I hope Kimi stays at Lotus- these guys are the greatest talents in F1 and that’s why others are scared of them.


+1 Elie, well said.

Having said that, the haters don’t really help themselves, do they? Like lemmings over the cliff, they can’t help but expose their foolish notions.


Please, you cannot quote 1.4 seconds in one sector as pure talent. It wasn’t. Hamilton thought he was behind and so pushed to catch up during the rest of the lap. Rosberg took pole then webber then Vettel then Hamilton all in order of running. Each just went faster as the track dried and while aware of the fastest lap at the time. Because of mixed conditions it rewards the guy that risks more. Even Vettel admitted he could have pushed harder. Hamilton got lucky that several drivers didn’t get a last lap, he earned his luck but that is all. He didn’t wring 1.4 seconds just by sheer talent in the middle sector so why quote it? If anyone was following him they would have pushed for pole in similar fashion. Yes lewis got pole good for him in the fastest qualifying car this year… greatest pole laps ever? Please….


..what about the last 3 in a row. Please…! Whenever you see my name here kindly ignore it- that what I will have to remember with you


@da-_schum. Im a he the last time I checked. !:) There are a few people here that present reasons with their opinions or judgements and then there are others who just say things because they have nothing better to say.


@ ShaBooPi- I said Lewis was one of the greatest qualifiers or all time . I did not say that pole at Spa was not the greatest of all time – read it again.


If you “think” I type alot of rubbish you should refrain from answering my post until you are sure. Otherwise you have another choice of just ignoring my post. I do that alot with people who are not sure of what they post here. I don’t ” have people agree with me” ..I believe that if you present details in the right spirit many people can relate to it. Some disagree too and that’s just fine so long as they so in the right spirit and provide a reason why.. This site is terrific because the vast majority of posters can present opinions with some decent sense of reasoning – the same way James presents the subject matter in the right spirit and with informed detail. If it upsets you that many people agree with me, I can only suggest you expressing some logic and reasoning why rather than as you out it “mouthing off”

I have many times said that there is very little separating the top 4 drivers of which Sebastian is certainly one of them. No one can deny that the Newey design has been the separating factor in the success of both WDC and WCC. The only question which many people in/out F1 have raised is whether anyone of those top 4 would be consistently challenging for titles as Seb in a the same team and car. That question still remains and no one can deny that .I have already addressed the subject of Hamiltons quali and speed so I won’t do that again and suggest only that if you disagree – you can provide specific reasons why or just leave it be.


I think you type a lot of rubbish but as always you would have people agree with you when Vettel does the same you are one of those who mouth of its the car so why are others not entitled to their opinions as they feel hamiltons pole is luck after all people have said Vettel’s title is more Newey’s title and you have agreed to that.


Don’t you ever think of disagreeing with Elie, even if she addresses everyone in her comment lol. He/she/it only comments very rarely and will not suffer fools lightly. You are only meant to read and nod politely in silence lol!


I’m just addressing the pole today as one of the greatest poles of all time according to you. I thought it was a fair point and not out of order to make. this is a comment section for fans to interact and opine, I’ll take your advice and ignore you but maybe you should eulogise in private if your points are magically beyond contention. Peace!



One thing that has troubled me a little this weekend though and, to be honest, I am surprised no one has mentioned it.

What on earth has Vettel done to his hair? It looks like a cheap toupee – it’s a different colour on top to the sides 🙂


Maybe he’s trying to look like Mary Poppins since they are in the hills 🙂 Lewis have him that “what da … ” Look after quali when Seb took his cap off !!


Haha, saw that pic, quite funny!


Very well said Elie!


Very well said Elie. If everyone on this site could reason like you do James site would not just be good it would be great. It would not just be the best it would be better. James goes through a lot to give us a well reasoned article only for some to lower the standard. I wish we could have a separate section for reasoned comments and no bias. In F1 we all learn about winning and losing and should do so gracefully.


Great lap Lewis! 🙂


Over quoted?, how many WDC has he to win to confirm he is the better driver in the grid?



He needs to team-up with HAM or ALONSO.

Winning those 3 WDCs in very dominant car proves nothing overall, except that he’s better than Webber.


And which WDC’s have they won a WDC against in same car?


Vettel was joking about a short cut from Hamilton in Silverstone after Q3…


I think the Brits needs Lewis and Bernie needs Mercedes, so nothing will happen…


At the top of Eua rouge on a qualy lap in the wet?

Good luck with that line of enquiry… 🙂

Why not salute the cahones to go that far onto wet curbs at that part of the track at that speed, if you see the video its pretty sketchy there.


Laps change in the dry and the wet. When wet the track can get more wet or it can get drier. When dry the temperature gets higher or lower. The other thing is that when wet a dry line could be appearing and when dry the track gets rubbered in.

Red Bull always use to make Vettel run last in Q3 to make use of any advantages the track has to offer . Plus there is no opportunity for anyone else to top the time as qualifying is over. Merc is using the same tactics on red bull. When it rains there is always an element of luck.

If comments on here are saying that Lewis is lucky then I guess every driver who gets pole in the rain or win in the rain is lucky. Di resta thought he was lucky.

I think viewers should thank Hamilton because he is the only one now putting pressure on Vettel. No one including Rosberg is doing this. If not for Hamilton Vettel could sleep his way to the next title. At least now he is earning it.


hamilton used the words blessing and fortunate in his interview to describe the outcome.


i think james should get back in that commentary box. the bbc lead commentator goes on about drivers being the fastest after only two or three drivers have set a time and go on to say how fantastic they as drivers.

it’s a competition between 22 drivers. until they have all set a time it is idiotic to start claiming victory. i feel horrified everytime i hear him say so so and so ‘is fastest at this stage’.

did he not learn science at school? he should be told that to compare measurements, you have to take all the measurements. and the most annoying thing is he raises his voice when he does it, through practice and qualifying.


James are we not in danger of some teams running out of inter tyres tomorrow if its the same as today. Ie the short bursts of rain leaves the track drying quickly but still means you need inters on and they burn out very quickly when it dries up. If that happens 2-3 times there will be no inters left. The Bridgestone inter would of been fine bit the Pirelli doesn’t like the drier lines at all.


As a Hamilton fan I think Rosberg had a great chance of pole if he had managed to sneak a lap in but that is motor racing. Hamilton’s last lap middle sector was brilliant but I thought Nico getting within half a second of PDR on his first lap in Q3 was the lap of the day.


Once Schumi started in Spa behind top ten. Hill was behind top five. Weather changed a lot, Benetton and Schumi gambled better than Williams and Hill and finally won the race. It was in 1995.

Let’s hope the weather will allow to gamble tomorrow and Samurai will knock them dead!


Dunno if the samurai stories are helping Alonso these days. Did he just watch The Last Samurai, or the Dark Knight, or something?

The last tweet, the one about being insulted, what was that all about?!


If it rains, there is a good chance that the samurai may let the sword slip from his hands 🙂


Come on H.A.M. You’re our only hope that Vettel doesn’t cruise to another title.

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