Hamilton takes Belgian Grand Prix pole

Lewis Hamilton oozed confidence after he secured pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix with a dazzling lap in Saturday's qualifying session.

updated: September 11, 2008 16:01 IST
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World championship leader Lewis Hamilton oozed confidence after he secured pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix with a dazzling lap in Saturday's qualifying session.

The 23-year-old Briton, in a McLaren, claimed his fifth pole of this season and the 11th of his career with a perfectly-timed lap to outpace title rival the Ferrari of Brazilian Felipe Massa.

Hamilton's supreme lap lifted him clear of Massa by three-tenths of a second and proved he is fully recovered from his sore neck suffered in Spain two weeks ago.

Finland's Heikki Kovlainen in the second McLaren was third fastest and starts ahead of defending champion and compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari on row two.

German Nick Heidfeld was fifth for BMW Sauber ahead of two times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso in a Renault.

Australian Mark Webber was seventh for Red Bull ahead of Poland's Robert Kubica in the second BMW, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais in a Toro Rosso and Sebastian Vettel of Germany in the second Toro Rosso.

Hamilton leads Massa by six points going into the penultimate European race of the year and oozed confidence. "It was a perfect lap, one of my four perfect laps so I was very happy," he said.

"I made no mistakes and the team made no mistakes so we are looking good," said Hamilton.

Massa said he also did a perfect lap. "It was as good as I could have done," he said. "Sometimes you do your best, do a perfect lap and then you find it is not enough, and that is what happened today."

Hamilton, however, warned: "It is not over yet and it is going to be a very challenging day for me and all of us tomorrow. But I am feeling really good.

"I am all over, much better than I felt in Valencia. I feel better than ever now and we had perfect preparation for this race.

"I have got a big smile on my face, but I hope I still have tomorrow."

After a morning of heavy rain, the afternoon session was run in dry, if cloudy conditions and Hamilton was swiftly out to top the times after Massa and then Raikkonen had laid down good marker laps.

In the final minute, and as the flag fell, both Massa and Hamilton were pushing as hard as possible and the Brazilian went top briefly before the leader took over again to get the prime grid position.

The first part-session was topped unexpectedly by the bespectacled Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais in his Toro Rosso.

It also saw the elimination from the fray of the bottom five runners led by the two Honda men Briton Jenson Button and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, both of whom had a wretched session.

German Adrian Sutil and his Force India team-mate, Italian veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, were also removed along with the Japanese Kazuki Nakajima in a Williams.

At least the rain held off for an hour of action after a wet morning as the drivers took on the demands and challenges of arguably the greatest circuit on the calendar.

In the second part-session, it was another surprise as Finn Heikki Kovalainen clocked the fastest time in his McLaren while behind him, in the scrap for a top ten finish and a place in the final shooout, German Nico Rosberg failed to make it in his Williams.

He ended up qualifying 15th ahead of the back markers while Italian Jarno Trulli in his Toyota was 11th and out also.

Brazilian Nelson Piquet for Williams, German Timo Glock in the second Toyota, and Briton David Coulthard in his Red Bull were also knocked out.