SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — A look at the main talking points from qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, where a late rain storm helped Lewis Hamilton pip Sebastian Vettel to pole position and allowed Force India to claim one of the feel-good stories of the 2018 season so far.
Shock: This looked like a nailed-on Ferrari pole position in the dry. The Italian team looked strong in practice and that pace had carried over into Q1 and Q2 — the rain changed all that and meant handed the initiative to wet-weather master Lewis Hamilton.
Shocker: Whatever happened to Kimi Raikkonen in the closing moments of Q3 cost him a shot at pole. The Iceman has looked great all weekend but when the rain intensified late on, he was brought back to the garage to investigate an issue.
Cameras showed the Finn shaking his head as Ferrari worked on his car while teammate Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton duked it out for pole position on circuit. Another opportunity lost for the Kimster.
Force India reborn in style: What a weekend it has been for Force India! The team changed ownership over the summer break and, following its purchase by Lawrence Stroll, has re-joined the grid as a new entrant on zero points — effectively changing from Sahara Force India to its new title, Racing Point Force India.
Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez mastered the weather conditions in Q3 to lockout the second row of the grid, leaving the team perfectly placed to re-open its points account on Sunday afternoon.
Lewis on fire: Lewis Hamilton is a man who just knows how to get it done in the wet. The four-time world champion had messed up his penultimate lap and appeared to have blown his chance of pole position — he made no such mistake on his final attempt and finished the session a comfortable 0.7s ahead of his teammate.
Misery for Red Bull: The rain benefitted Mercedes but it hurt Red Bull badly. Max Verstappen, usually renowned for his prowess in those conditions, and Daniel Ricciardo had slipped to seventh and eighth by the time Q3 concluded. A difficult race awaits on Sunday.
Hamilton v Vettel: This championship keeps on delivering and we now have the prospect of the two title contenders vying for victory from the front row on Sunday.
Assuming both get into Turn 1 cleanly and ahead of the Force Indias, they should be ready to resume their wheel-to-wheel battle for victory at this same circuit 12 months ago.
Star of the session: It’s got to be Esteban Ocon, hasn’t it? Wonderful lap to third position, the best qualifying performance of his career.