Nico Rosberg beats Max Verstappen to Belgian Grand Prix pole

Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix, but was pushed hard by Red Bull Formula 1 rival Max Verstappen

Nico Rosberg beats Max Verstappen to Belgian Grand Prix pole

With Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton choosing not to try for pole, on account of a 55-place grid penalty for multiple F1 engine changes so far at Spa, Rosberg looked set to face a relatively unchallenged run to pole.

He was fastest in Q2 on the soft tyre with a 1m46.999s lap, which was quicker than Verstappen could manage on the super-soft.

Rosberg bolted on the super-softs for Q3, but couldn't find much more time on them.

He improved to a 1m46.744s best on his first run in Q3, which was enough to beat Verstappen to pole by 0.249 seconds when neither driver managed to go faster on their final runs.

Kimi Raikkonen was third fastest for Ferrari, almost two tenths clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who lost time to a big oversteer moment at the Bus Stop chicane on his final flying lap. Raikkonen also dropped time at the end of his lap, and felt that cost him a shot at pole.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest in the second Red Bull, just over three tenths down on Verstappen.

Ricciardo endured a poor first run in Q3, but improved enough on his second to make the top six.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg took sixth and seventh places respectively for Force India, while fellow Mercedes customer team Williams suffered software problems with both cars in Q3.

This meant it couldn't run full qualifying mode on the engines, restricting Valtteri Bottas to eighth and Felipe Massa to 10th.

Massa also locked his brakes heavily at La Source on his single Q3 run, and Jenson Button's McLaren-Honda was able to squeak ahead of him into ninth place.

Button's place in Q3 came at the expense of Romain Grosjean's Haas, which ended up missing the cut by 0.265s.

Renault delivered its best qualifying performance of the season so far with Kevin Magnussen 12th fastest and team-mate Jolyon Palmer 14th.

They were split by the second Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, which faces a five-place grid penalty for impeding Pascal Wehrlein's Manor at Raidillon in final practice.

Wehrlein made it through to Q2, but wound up last in that segment, after a disappointing run in which he went slower than he did in Q1.

Carlos Sainz Jr was just ahead of him in the first of the Toro Rossos, also unable to improve on his Q1 best.

Felipe Nasr failed to escape Q1 in the heavily revised Sauber by just 0.048s and wound up 17th overall, a tenth ahead of Manor debutant Esteban Ocon.

Daniil Kvyat endured yet another Q1 exit for Toro Rosso, ending up 19th fastest, fractionally ahead of the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.

Reigning world champion Hamilton set the 20th fastest time in the second Mercedes, completing a leisurely run to simply register on the timesheet knowing he will start at the back of the grid.

Fernando Alonso's McLaren-Honda broke down before he could complete an out-lap in qualifying, so he failed to set a time.

Honda found what it described as a "data anomaly" with Alonso's engine after the final practice session, but elected to send him out without making an engine change.

PROVISIONAL STARTING GRID:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m46.744s -
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m46.893s 0.149s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m46.910s 0.166s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m47.108s 0.364s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m47.216s 0.472s
6 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m47.407s 0.663s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m47.543s 0.799s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m47.612s 0.868s
9 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m48.114s 1.370s
10 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m48.263s 1.519s
11 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m48.316s -
12 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1m48.485s -
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m48.888s -
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m49.038s -
15 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 1m49.320s -
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m48.949s -
17 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 1m49.050s -
18 Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 1m48.598s -
19 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 1m49.058s -
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m49.071s -
21 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m50.033s -
22 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda - -

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