Hakkinen dominates Spa qualifying, as Button stars

Mika Hakkinen took pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix by nearly 0.8s after another dominant performance in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps

Hakkinen dominates Spa qualifying, as Button stars

However, the McLaren's biggest challenge came from a surprise source as Jordan's Jarno Trulli pushed the reigning champion hard throughout the session. His last run equalled Hakkinen's pace in the first two sectors but a spin by Jean Alesi brought out the yellow flags at the Bus Stop and dashed Trulli's hopes of his first F1 pole position.

Even more impressive was Jenson Button, who will start from a career-best third on the grid for Williams-BMW, the team's highest starting position all season. The young Englishman was less than 0.1s off a front row placing.

The other title contenders had a hard time. Michael Schumacher did well to take fourth as Ferrari continued to struggle, but his team-mate Rubens Barrichello will have to start from tenth place. A spin over the grass at the Bus Stop chicane summed up a frustrating day for the Brazilian.

David Coulthard had a couple of minor incidents with Heinz-Harald Frentzen that spoilt both their sessions. Having already blocked each other on their first runs, Frentzen then had a lap disallowed after he had to cut across the grass at the Bus Stop to avoid Coulthard, who was on a slow lap. The Jordan driver retaliated by delaying the Scot on the way into La Source at the start of the next lap.

Even when he had a clear lap, Coulthard could do no better than fifth fastest, nearly a second off Hakkinen, while Frentzen was eighth.

Ralf Schumacher was 0.3s slower than team-mate Button in seventh, just ahead of Jacques Villeneuve, as committed as ever in the BAR-Honda. Johnny Herbert continued the strong form he has shown all weekend to wind up ninth, ahead of the troubled Barrichello.

There was high drama at Benetton after technical problems for both Alex Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella left both drivers to squabble over the use of the spare. Having suffered his mechanical misfortune first, Wurz was given one flying lap before having to hand the car over to his Italian team-mate, who faced non-qualification until the Benetton crew managed to get him on track with less than five minutes to go. Fisichella did a fine job to salvage 11th place but Wurz will start 19th.

After leaping into the lead from the second row at the start of the last two races, Hakkinen faces a slightly easier task from pole position tomorrow. He refused to get over-confident however.

"I'm going to try to do as good a start as I normally do," he said, "but it all depends on what these guys on either side of me do."

For a full rundown of the grid positions for the Belgium Grand Prix, just click here.

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