Lewis Hamilton takes Belgian pole as Ferrari slumps

The Briton's team mate, Valtteri Bottas, will start second on Sunday in a front-row lockout for Mercedes.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain stands on his car after setting the fastest time during the qualifying session prior to the Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Spa.   -  AP

Lewis Hamilton will start the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix from pole position after setting the fastest time in qualifying on Saturday.

"I didn’t make a mistake,” Hamilton said proudly. The Briton's team mate, Valtteri Bottas, will start second on Sunday in a front-row lockout for Mercedes. "I need to attack if I want to keep my title hopes (alive),” said Bottas, who won the opening race of the season in Austria.

Max Verstappen will start third for Red Bull. It was a strong performance from Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, who starts from fourth on Sunday at the 7-kilometre (4.3-mile) track nestled in the Ardennes forest.

Ferrari, winner in Belgium for the last two years, had gone into qualifying facing the prospect of a knockout in the first part after a dismal practice showing in which four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was last.

It survived the opening 18 minutes but failed to make it through to the pole-position shoot-out. Charles Leclerc, who took his maiden Formula One win in Belgium last year, was 13th with Vettel, who is leaving Ferrari at the end of the year, 14th.

"Honestly, yes. It’s sad to say that but getting into Q2 was a nice surprise. I’m starting from 13th and I think it will be difficult unless it rains,” Leclerc said.

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