Sports Desk, Aug 29 (efe-epa).- Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start the Belgian Grand Prix in first position after extending his record of most pole positions to 93 during qualifying on Saturday.
The reigning world champion and current leader of the drivers’ championship set a fastest lap of one minute, 41 seconds and 252 milliseconds, 511 faster than his Mercedes teammate, Finn Valterri Bottas, who will start alongside him on the front row in second.
“Today was a very clean session,” Hamilton said. “Every lap was getting better and better. There was a lot of great work in the background. This was an important pole.”
The British driver, who is bidding to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven world championship titles this year, paid tribute to US actor Chadwick Boseman, star of 2018 blockbuster movie Black Panther.
“I woke up to the sad news of Chadwick passing away. That news really, really broke me,” Hamilton said.
“He was such a shining light. Wakanda Forever. I just wanted to come out today and drive to perfection.”
In a Twitter post after the qualifying session, Hamilton, who has been a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement in the United States and elsewhere, wrote: “I want to dedicate this pole to Chadwick. What he accomplished and the legacy he left is so incredible to me. He’s inspired a whole generation of young black men and women and provided them with a true superhero to look up to.”
It was a qualifying session that saw Ferrari’s struggles continue as both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were eliminated in Q2. They will start in 13th and 14th places respectively.
The change in fortunes for the Italian team, which won the race at Spa Francorchamps last year, is dramatic.
Red Bull’s Dutch speedster Max Verstappen will start in third place, one spot ahead of his former teammate Australian Daniel Ricciardo – now at Renault.
“It’s been a positive weekend,” Verstappen said. ” I don’t think we can fight (Mercedes) in the race, but with the weather I hope it comes into play, and it will make it more fun.”
Verstappen’s Thai teammate Alex Albon will start in fifth, ahead of France’s Esteban Ocon.
Spanish driver Carlos Sainz will start in seventh for McLaren, on the fourth row alongside Mexican Sergio Perez of Racing Point.
Perez’s teammate Canadian Lance Stroll will start ninth and Englishman Lando Norris, Sainz’s partner at McLaren, will start in 10th. EFE-EPA