Lewis Hamilton has taken his 78th career pole position at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit, edging out rival Sebastian Vettel in a dramatic final session. Hamilton bet Vettel by seven-tenths of a second, on a track that was drying towards the end of Q3.
The rain stayed away from the track during the first two qualifying sessions, but a sudden downpour caught the drivers out at the start of Q3. Having all exited the pits on dry tyres, the drivers were forced to come back in straight away to fit the intermediate compound.
The cars were fuelled up for plenty of laps when the rain eased off and track conditions started improving. Despite setting his last lap time after Hamilton, Vettel failed to beat the 1:58.179 set by his British rival.
After entering the weekend not knowing if they were going to race at all, Force India locked out the second row of the grid, and will line-up in 3rd and 4th place on Sunday. Esteban Ocon, whose future in the sport is up in the air, headed Sergio Perez.
Red Bull will be left disappointed following the session, as it has been forced to settle with the fourth row. Max Verstappen got the better of Daniel Ricciardo, with the energy drink squad failing to take advantage of the changing conditions.
Kevin Magnussen couldn't manage better than 9th place, while Valtteri Bottas finished 10th. The Finn didn't set a time in the final qualifying session due to the fact he will line-up at the back of the field tomorrow after going over his engine allocation limit this weekend.
It was a miserable day for McLaren, who suffered a double Q1 exit. Stoffel Vandoorne will take up the final position at his home Grand Prix on Sunday, two spaces behind teammate Fernando Alonso, who will walk away from the sport at the end of the year.
The other big shock from the first session was Carlos Sainz failing to make it out. However, he will line-up alongside his teammate Nico Hulkenberg for the race, who was the slowest out of the runners in Q2.
Sauber will be pleased with getting both cars into the second stage of qualifying, ending up just behind the two Toro Rossos, who narrowly missed out on the final qualifying session.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
Would you like to stay up to date with the latest Lewis Hamilton and Formula 1 news from GPtoday? Activate free push notifications and be the first to know!