Lewis Hamilton stormed to a dominant pole position in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix on Saturday ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottas who completed a front-row lockout for Mercedes while rivals Ferrari endured a miserable day.
The Briton, who leads the overall standings by 37 points from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, lapped the seven-km Spa-Francorchamps track in a record time of one minute 41.252 seconds, 0.511 seconds clear of Bottas.
Verstappen was once again best of the rest in third for Red Bull. The Dutchman was 0.526 seconds off Hamilton’s pace.
Saturday’s pole was a record-extending 93rd of Hamilton’s career and he dedicated it to ‘Black Panther’ film star Chadwick Boseman who died of colon cancer on Friday.
It was the 35-year-old’s fifth pole from seven races this season and a record-extending sixth at the Spa-Francorchamps track.
Hamilton, who had also topped Saturday morning’s final practice session, never look like being challenged throughout the qualifying hour.
He was fastest in all three parts of qualifying, giving his Mercedes team’s ‘party mode’ power unit setting, which will be banned from the next race in Monza, a fitting send-off.
Daniel Ricciardo took fourth for Renault, the French team carrying its strong practice form into qualifying.
Alexander Albon in the other Red Bull was fifth ahead of Ricciardo’s team mate Esteban Ocon.
Carlos Sainz was seventh for McLaren ahead of Racing Point duo Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris rounded out the top 10 for McLaren.
Ferrari, winners in Belgium for the last two years, had gone into qualifying facing the prospect of a knockout in the first part after a dismal practice showing in which four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was last.
They survived the opening 18 minutes but failed to make it through to the pole-position shoot-out.
Charles Leclerc, who took his maiden Formula One win in Belgium last year, was 13th with Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of the year, 14th.