Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium: Lewis Hamilton delivered a flawless lap to claim his sixth consecutive pole position on Saturday when he dominated qualifying for Sunday´s Belgian Grand Prix.
The 30-year-old Briton clocked a stunning final lap in the closing seconds of a tense and thrilling qualifying session in one minute and 47.197 seconds to outpace Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg by nearly half a second.
It was the 48th pole of Hamilton´s career, his 10th this year in 11 sessions and his third at the majestic Spa-Francorchamps where he has suffered ill-fortune in the past, notably when he was penalised and relegated to third after winning the 2008 race on the track.
He is the first driver to record six successive poles since seven time champion German Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2000-01, when he reeled off seven in succession.
Rosberg, recovered from the shocking high speed tyre failure that sent him into a terrifying full spin during Friday´s second free practice session, fought hard to end Hamilton´s supremacy, but without avail.
The 30-year-old German, whose wife Vivian is expecting their first child, is 21 points behind Hamilton in the title race with nine races remaining.
Hamilton, who has looked vulnerable at the start in recent races, said: “The team have done a lot of analysis. All this weekend, we have been working on the start so we are as prepared as we can be.
Italian tyre suppliers Pirelli completed an overnight investigation into the cause of his accident and concluded that there was nothing wrong with the integrity of their tyres.
They said the failure was caused by a puncture created by unidentified external debris.
Finn Valtteri Bottas was a surprise third fastest for Williams ahead of Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus, who faces a grid penalty yet to be confirmed after a change of power unit parts, and Mexican Sergio Perez of Force India.
Bottas, who had been strongly linked with a move to Ferrari before fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen was re-signed, said: “It´s good to be back in the top three!
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was sixth for Red Bull ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Venezuelan Pastor Maldondo in the second Lotus.
Four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, was a disappointing ninth for Ferrari as they prepared for their 900th Grand Prix, ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso.