Nico Rosberg did what he needed to do in a close qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps as he took top spot from Max Verstappen on Saturday.
The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS secured pole position with a time of 1:46.744, 0.149 seconds faster than the Red Bull Racing driver, and will also be one of four drivers inside the top ten to be starting the race on the preferred Soft tyre after making his way through Q2 on those tyres rather than the Supersoft.
The Supersoft tyres have not lasted for more than just a handful of laps so far in the hotter than expected conditions at Spa, with Verstappen likely to face an early pit stop as a result on Sunday, although his early pace could give Rosberg a challenge.
Rosberg appeared to be stronger on the Soft compound rather than the Supersoft, with Mercedes appearing to be struggling more this weekend to keep the life in the tyre for a whole lap.
Kimi Raikkonen will start third for Scuderia Ferrari, finishing 0.166 seconds behind Rosberg, and he will be joined on the second row by team-mate Sebastian Vettel, while Daniel Ricciardo put the second Red Bull onto fifth. Raikkonen, Vettel and Ricciardo followed Rosberg’s lead and moved through into Q3 on the Soft compound tyre.
Sergio Perez was sixth fastest for Sahara Force India, just ahead of team-mate Nico Hülkenberg, although they like Verstappen will start on the Supersoft compound, as will eighth placed Valtteri Bottas in the leading Williams, Jenson Button for McLaren-Honda and the second Williams of Felipe Massa, who locked up on his one and only fast lap in Q3.
Romain Grosjean again missed out on an appearance in Q3, with the Haas F1 Team still looking for their first visit to the session in their rookie season, while Kevin Magnussen put in a superb lap to qualify twelfth in the leading Renault.
Esteban Gutierrez was thirteenth quickest in the second Haas, but will drop five places on the grid following his final practice incident with Pascal Wehrlein, while the second Renault of Jolyon Palmer was fourteenth.
Carlos Sainz Jr came into this weekend knowing it would be a struggle for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, and so it came to be as he finished fifteenth fastest, just ahead of Wehrlein, who took Manor Racing into Q2 for the second time this season.
Felipe Nasr missed out on Q2 by the smallest of margins, with the Sauber F1 Team driver seeing Palmer denying him by just 0.048 seconds, while Esteban Ocon’s first qualifying session as a Formula 1 driver saw him finish eighteenth in the second Manor.
The under pressure Daniil Kvyat was nineteenth in the second of the Toro Rosso entries ahead of Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber, with just 1.333 seconds separating the Swede from the Q1 pace setting time of Massa.
Lewis Hamilton completed just one run on the Supersoft Pirelli tyre just to qualify within the 107% rule, with the heavily penalised Briton ending the session down in twenty-first.
Fernando Alonso, also taking a huge grid penalty due to engine issues earlier in the weekend, failed to complete a lap, stopping his McLaren just 500 metres after the pit exit with another mechanical issue that could see the Spaniard taking yet more penalties ahead of the race.
Spa-Francorchamps Qualifying Result
|POS||NO.||DRIVER||NAT||TEAM||Q1 TIME||Q2 TIME||Q3 TIME||LAPS|
|2||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:48.407||1:47.163||1:46.893||12|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Tag Heuer||1:48.407||1:48.027||1:47.216||12|
|6||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1:48.106||1:47.485||1:47.407||12|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1:48.080||1:47.317||1:47.543||12|
|15||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:48.876||1:49.038||9|
|19||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:49.058||6|
|22||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren-Honda||No Time||1|