Rosberg on pole for Belgian Grand Prix

Sat Aug 27, 2016 11:11am EDT
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By Abhishek Takle

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Nico Rosberg seized pole position for Sunday’s Belgian Formula One Grand Prix with a lap that was only just fast enough to guarantee him top spot at the end of a close-run qualifying session.

The Mercedes driver lapped the 7-kilometer long Spa-Francorchamps circuit in one minute 46.744 seconds but had a battle on his hands, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in hot pursuit, just 0.149 seconds behind.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third, just 0.166 seconds adrift of Rosberg’s benchmark.

“It really wasn’t so easy coming into qualifying,” said Rosberg.“We had a difficult weekend up to now, especially this morning. We were seriously off the pace on one lap.

“We got the job done in the end,” Rosberg, who came seventh in the final practice session, told reporters.

Saturday’s pole was the 28th of Rosberg’s career. It was also his sixth of the season, third in a row and Mercedes’ 48th in the last 51 races.

The German squad has started all but one race this year from the front.

Rosberg’s path to pole was smoothed by a hefty 55-place engine-related grid penalty for team mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton. The Briton, who will start last, did only a handful of laps at an easy pace to qualify, not even bothering to set a time good enough to make it past the first phase.   Continued...

Belgium Formula One - F1 - Belgian Grand Prix 2016 - Francorchamps, Belgium - 27/8/16 - Mercedes' Nico Rosberg of Germany reacts after qualifying in pole position. REUTERS/Olivier Matthys/Pool