Lewis Hamilton Takes Pole – QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
Formula 1 is back after the summer break and what a way it all kicked off – with what should have been a Ferrari dominated session (it started off like that too) things started to change at the end of Q2.
The rain which had been predicted prior to Qualifying started to make an appearance at the end of Q2 with a few raindrops and by Q3 – the rain had started to fall meaning a mad-dash back to the pits for a tyre change for all drivers.
Throughout Q1 and Q2, Kimi Raikkonen looked strong and everyone thought he had it in the bag, along with the lap record – bringing pole home for the team but the rain had different ideas.
Sebastian Vettel in the later stages of Q2, started to show potential with the car – topping the timesheet after Kimi Raikkonen’s lap record but yet again, the rain changed the results and everyone started managing their tyres and cars, carefully making their way round the track to avoid any accidents and/or spins.
On the last few laps, the Red Bull Racing team also started to improve on their time much to the joy of the crowd with a lot of support for Max Verstappen.
In the final lap, it was the luck of the silver-arrows (Mercedes) as Lewis Hamilton managed to take pole for the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix along with a surprise result from Esteban Ocon who also couldn’t believe the result saying over the team radio “I can’t believe it!”.
Let’s take a look at the driver interviews below along with photos from around the paddock.
MERCEDES – QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton: “I really love driving in the wet, but I don’t think I can quite put into words just how difficult the conditions were out there today. We were all tip-toeing around and you’re just praying you don’t lock up.”
“We went straight from slicks onto the Inters in Q3 meaning we only had a handful of laps to try and find the grip, understand which parts of the track were dry, and which parts were wet.”
“I went off at Turn 1, then at Turn 12 on my next lap, so I only had one lap left to get the job done, with the track starting to dry out in those final minutes.”
“I knew I had the pace, I just had to find that right balance and that balance is different in every single corner. I love driving like that. I actually thought we were right in the fight if it had stayed dry. I knew it would be close, but I thought I might just have the edge to get ahead of the Ferraris.”
“They’ve been favourites for a few races now, but we’ve managed to come out ahead. Sebastian’s long-run pace looked very strong yesterday, so tomorrow could be tough.”
“I don’t know if we’ve quite got the pace to win, but you can bet I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got.”
“It’s a long run down to Les Combes on the first lap and we know the Ferraris are incredibly fast on the straights, so we’ll have to see how it plays out tomorrow.”
Valtteri Bottas: “This afternoon felt a little strange – you take a very different approach to qualifying when you know that the result doesn’t really matter because you have to start from the grid anyway.”
“Our initial plan was actually to only go out in Q1. We changed the plan shortly before the session, thinking that I could give Lewis a bit of a slip stream, but then it started to rain in Q3 so we abandoned the idea in the end.”
“Thankfully, it didn’t do any harm to our original plan as we qualified on the Soft tyre which was the compound we wanted to start the race on anyway.”
“It’s pure enjoyment to drive on this track, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and I’m confident that there will be possibilities coming up.”
“This track offers the chance to overtake and we do have a very good car around here, so I look forward to the challenge and I’ll try to have a little fun as well.”
FERRARI – QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel: “Today was ok we had the pace and we managed to stay on track and maintain control even if the conditions were tricky.”
“I could have done much more but I made some mistakes, therefore I am happy with second position, albeit not completely of course.”
“When it suddenly starts raining as it did today, everything gets more confused and there’s more traffic on track. You know that every lap is important, but you also know that the last one could be the best. However, we have a good car, our people are pushing very hard and I think we have taken another step forward here.”
“I believe that speed is the main aspect that can make the difference. We’ll see how we get off the line tomorrow in the first lap, but I think that if we have better speed, then we will find the right way to pass.”
“We’ve been very close so far, so I think we’ll see the real pace tomorrow in the race.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “The weekend so far had being going in the right direction and the car was fine. The result of this qualifying is far from ideal, but not a disaster. For sure this is not the place we should have finished today.”
“In the end we only had fuel for one lap and we had to come in. This is what we have got and there’s nothing we can do. It’s just a matter of getting it right and being there when the track is faster.”
“At the moment, it is difficult to find a positive side, but the race is normally a different story and we’ll see what happens. Tomorrow we’ll try again, learn from our mistakes and keep going.”
“First of all we need to come through the first corner without any issues. Yesterday it was surprisingly difficult to overtake, but in the race it is a different story.”
FORCE INDIA (Racing Point Force India) – QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
Esteban Ocon: “It’s awesome to be in P3 after such a difficult time with the team we had but now we are starting afresh and definitely happy with that result, third wasn’t expected today.”
“What I knew is definitely that when it’s damp conditions like this you have an opportunity and something to do. It’s always closer between the cars when the conditions are like that and today we maximised the potential of our car.”
“Last time it rained I was also starting third. It’s the second time it rains and I’m starting third, so it’s a fantastic result. Great to perform like this after a difficult time for Force India.”
“That’s totally behind us now and we are focusing on this weekend and the car has been strong, even in the dry this weekend, so hopefully we will get a great result tomorrow.”
RED BULL RACING – QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
Max Verstappen: “Starting seventh is not what we wanted but it was a tricky situation out there today. We fuelled for two laps, one of those for slicks and the other for Intermediates.”
“It stopped raining towards the end of our laps and the track dried a little but if we had stayed out and gone for another lap we would have run out of fuel.”
“It’s frustrating as the time we spent on track was competitive so I’m sure we could have been closer to the front. Even my last quick lap could have been a little better as I ran out of energy in the last sector and I had expected to use it on just one lap.”
“I think we made the correct decision to go on to the Intermediates, it was just bad luck that it stopped raining and we had no fuel left. In general Qualifying was good and the car felt good, we just got caught out in Q3.”
“We have really low downforce on the car so we should be able to overtake some cars ahead of us that usually would not be there. With the unusual mix at the front it should be an interesting first few laps.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “Timing is difficult here and the weather is just so unpredictable. Once it started raining, we thought it would get heavier, but five minutes later it started to dry and by then we had used our tyres and fuel.”
“As a team, we thought we were doing the right thing to get out on the Intermediate as quickly as possible while it was still not that wet, but at the end of the session the cars still on track had the best conditions.”
“It was unlucky and in normal circumstances once it starts raining it usually gets worse and worse but today that just didn’t happen. In hindsight, the strategy didn’t work but at the time it looked like the right thing to do.”
“Even if it’s raining in the pitlane here it could be 40 degrees at the other side of the track so we just missed out. I’ve struggled all weekend with speed and there are still some unknowns.”
“In Q1 I had to put two sets of tyres on to get through, even though we weren’t expecting to be that quick around here, we shouldn’t be in that position and we will try and find some answers tonight before the race tomorrow.”
“Even though we haven’t been that quick so far, tomorrow we can be more optimistic, even starting eighth. We are definitely better than that and we will try and charge through.”
“I’m sure a few cars in front of us won’t be as strong on race pace so we will be moving forwards and not backwards.”
MCLAREN – QUALIFYING REPORT – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso: “We’ve lost a bit of performance in recent races, but on top of that we knew Spa would be quite a difficult race for our package in terms of performance, and so will Monza. We will try to defend here and attack on more favourable tracks.”
“My qualifying lap today was enjoyable. Driving these cars on this circuit is always very special because they feel fast and grippy, but then you cross the line and your time is slower than your competitors, which means that tomorrow we’ll have to recover.”
“We try to score points in every difficult situation so why can’t we score points again tomorrow? We need something special to happen, so maybe there is some rain coming that will give us a chance.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “Our general performance explains pretty much everything this afternoon. We’ve been last in almost every session, we’ve had so many problems this weekend and I don’t think there were any surprises here in qualifying.”
“It’s my home grand prix and it’s a real shame that we don’t have better machinery to really put on a good show and give the fans a good result.”
“I don’t think there would have been a huge miracle if I hadn’t had the incident in FP3. We tried to play every card today, with a bit of slipstreaming as well and we didn’t really progress any further, so I don’t think it made much difference for me. “
“I hope I can progress at least a little bit tomorrow. It’s been a difficult weekend, we’ve not really had any performance at all, and I just hope tomorrow will be better.”
PHOTOS – 2018 Belgian Grand Prix