Lewis Hamilton made the most of the conditions at Spa-Francorchamps during Q3 to take pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix, the Briton beating championship rival Sebastian Vettel by more than seven-tenths of a second.
The opening two segments of Qualifying were held in dry conditions, but the heavens opened as the cars took to the track for the top ten shootout, with those drivers who started on slicks heading straight back to the pits for Intermediates.
Hamilton made mistakes on his first two laps, but the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver got it all together when it mattered and after the session he admitted he loves driving in the wet.
“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,” said Hamilton. “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.”
Hamilton felt he could have fought for pole position even if conditions had remained dry, but he knows the long run pace of Scuderia Ferrari, and in particularly Vettel, looks strong, so converting the pole into a victory could be tricky to achieve.
“I actually thought we were right in the fight if it had stayed dry,” said Hamilton. “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.”