Formula 1

Nico Rosberg claims pole in soggy Spa qualifying

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Nico Rosberg claimed a pivotal pole position for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix as the heavens opened at Spa.

Heavy rain just before the session and intermittent showers throughout meant a very wet track, however, it could not stop the dominant Mercedes.

Rosberg lays down a marker

Heading into qualifying it was Lewis Hamilton who had led throughout the practice sessions and indeed during the first two segments of qualifying looked odds on for a first pole since Spain, but a mistake on his first run put him on the back foot as Rosberg made it four straight poles with two excellent laps in the difficult conditions.

The German improved on both his runs and his 2:05.591 gave him a three tenths advantage over Hamilton as Mercedes enjoyed their first front row lockout since Monaco.

A class of their own

The Silver Arrows were in a class of their own as Sebastian Vettel claimed third for Red Bull a mammoth 2.2 seconds slower than Rosberg.

Fernando Alonso continued his strong weekend in fourth for Ferrari just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who survived a big moment coming through the 180mph Blanchimont corner on his final run to take fifth.

Wet weather misery for Williams

Heading into the weekend it seemed the Williams team would be the only viable threat to Mercedes, however, the seventh wet qualifying of the year meant once again their main Achilles heel was exposed.

Valtteri Bottas was only sixth with Felipe Massa ninth as Kevin Magnussen impressively beat team-mate Jenson Button, a man known as a wet weather and Spa specialist, in seventh with the 2009 champion only tenth, Kimi Raikkonen's woes continued as the Finn took eighth in the second Ferrari.

Jules Bianchi stars again

Another wet qualifying, another opportunity taken by Marussia's French star Jules Bianchi. The man from Nice once again made it into Q2 dumping Nico Hulkenberg out in the first part of the session as the Force India's also failed to meet the higher expectations usually seen at Spa.

Bianchi would take 16th but joining him in the midfield would be both Toro Rosso's again something of a surprise given how well the Faenza team traditionally go in the wet conditions.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat didn't miss out by much, however, with the Russian only a tenth shy of another top 10 start in 11th as Vergne settled for 12th.

Sergio Perez claimed 13th in the leading Force India ahead of Adrian Sutil as the Sauber man came out on top in their battle with Lotus.

Romain Grosjean was just behind in 15th, then Bianchi, and Pastor Maldonado was again knocked out in Q1 in 17th ahead of the disappointing Hulkenberg. Max Chilton was ahead of the second Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez as the Mexican was hit by mechanical problems while on the back row Andre Lotterer demolished regular Caterham driver Marcus Ericsson as the long-time Belgium resident was a second clear of the Swede.

Hamilton vs Rosberg

Looking forward to the race on Sunday and, while better weather is forecast, we still look set for a two-horse race for the victory as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton go head-to-head once more.

On Friday it was Rosberg who had the better tyre life while on pace the pair was virtually inseparable. Therefore predicting a winner is close to impossible and should either driver hit problems, there is a great battle shaping up between Red Bull and Ferrari for 'best of the rest' and with their superior engine power Williams will likely join in the fun too.

At just 44 laps, the Belgian Grand Prix is the shortest of the year in terms of number of laps, but we look set for another incredible dash through the forest as the final championship run-in to decide a 2014 Formula 1 champion begins in earnest.

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