Rosberg holds off Verstappen for Spa pole
Nico Rosberg saw off a spirited challenge from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to claim pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was pushed hard throughout qualifying with his personal best 1:47.74s just 0.149s quicker than Verstappen.
Verstappen’s impressive display on the super-soft tyre saw him claim a maiden front row grid slot.
Rosberg’s pole position has put the German in the box seat to cut the 19 point deficit to title rival Lewis Hamilton, who will start from the rear of the grid after undergoing three engine changes.
Kimi Raikkonen emerged in third for Ferrari courtesy of his final effort which came after a mistake at Stavelot ruined his first run.
The Finn will start alongside team-mate Sebastian Vettel while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo appeared to struggle for pace in fifth.
Force India backed up its strong practice performance with Sergio Perez sixth and Nico Hulkenberg seventh.
Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa sandwiched the McLaren of Jenson Button to complete the top 10.
Haas F1’s Romain Grosjean just missed out on progressing to Q3 in 11th spot.
Kevin Magnussen once again emerged as the top Renault runner in 12th with team-mate Jolyon Palmer just behind in 13th position.
Esteban Gutierrez ended qualifying 13th fastest but will start the race from 18th after picking up a five-place grid penalty for blocking Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein in Practice 3.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz posted a time good enough for 14th ahead of Manor’s Wehrlein, who managed to break into Q2.
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, Manor debutant Esteban Ocon, Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) failed to progress from Q1.
Ericsson’s session was hampered by a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change prior to qualifying.
The final row of the grid will be shared by world champion drivers Fernando Alonso and Hamilton.
Alonso, who headed into qualifying with a 35-place grid penalty, failed to complete a flying lap after his McLaren suffered a loss of power going through Eau Rouge on an out lap.
Hamilton bowed out of qualifying in Q1 as he chose to preserve his tyres for the race.
Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix is due to begin at 2200 AEST.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1:46.89||+0.14|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1:47.21||+0.47|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1:47.40||+0.66|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1:47.54||+0.79|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:49.03||Q2|
|18||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas/Ferrari||1:48.59||Q2 5 place penalty|
|19||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:49.05||Q1|
|20||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||1:49.07||Q1 10 place penalty|
|21||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:50.03||Q1 55 place penalty|
|22||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Honda||–||Q1 35 place penalty|