Spa Francorchamps, Aug 24 — Force India’s Paul di Resta looked set for a memorable pole position until he was pushed down to fifth place in a frantic qualifying session at the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix here Saturday.
Lewis Hamilton came up with a scintillating run in the dying minutes of Q3 to take his fourth successive pole for the Mercedes. The Briton clocked 2:01.012 ahead of Red Bull’s championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who set 2:01.200 and 2:01.325 respectively.
Q3 started amid rain which died down towards the end of the session, enabling the faster cars to beat the 2:02.332 set by di Resta in the Force India.
It seemed that the Silverstone outfit had pulled off a masterstroke by opting for intermediate tyres going into the final 10 minutes while the other teams went ahead with slicks. The rain got heavier at the start of Q3 and drivers were involved in a mad scramble for getting their intermediates on, leaving di Resta the only man on track.
His time seemed enough for Force India’s second pole in F1 before Nico Rosberg produced a faster lap in his late run. Rosberg’s 2:02.251 was soon bettered by the top three drivers. Adrian Sutil was 12th fastest in the other Force India.
“Fifth place on the grid is a great result. At the start of Q3 I knew that I wanted to go straight out on the intermediates. It was a brave decision and the team let me go ahead with it, while the others chose dry tyres. I knew it was our best chance to get up towards the front of the grid and it paid off,” said the Scot.
“It’s a shame that the rain stopped a bit too early because there were only a few cars that were quicker than us in the wet and they just got ahead at the end of the session.”
It was here at this iconic circuit that Force India claimed their sole pole position in 2009 when Giancarlo Fisichella finished second after starting first on the grid. The Italian’s superlative effort remains the only podium for the midfield team.