SPA, August 22- Series leader and defending two-time world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed 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 and flawless final lap in the closing seconds of the top ten shootout in a time of 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 his 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.
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 full spin during Friday’s second free practice session, fought hard to end Hamilton’s supremacy, but without avail.
Italian tyre suppliers Pirelli had 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.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo was sixth for Red Bull ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in the second Williams, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado 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.
The session began in warm, dry and unexpectedly balmy conditions at the sprawling and majestic track in the Ardennes with Hamilton quickly stamping his authority on proceedings.
He emerged fastest from Q1 ahead of Rosberg while the early departures included the two struggling McLaren Hondas of 2009 world champion Briton Jenson Button and two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso.
They were 17th and 18th quickest and went out together with Brazilian Felipe Nasr of Sauber, who was 16th and the two Manor Marussia men Briton Will Stevens and Spaniard Roberto Merhi.
Hamilton continued to set the pace as Q2 began, soon to be overhauled by Rosberg with a lap in 1:47.955 shortly before the session was red-flagged when Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari came to a halt with possible engine problems.
He pulled up behind the barriers and, after a brief break, the action resumed with the two Mercedes men more than a second clear of nearest rivals Force India.
In the flurry that followed, Vettel pushed his Ferrari up to third ahead of Perez and Massa in the leading Williams, but out went German Nico Hulkenberg in the second Force India, Russian Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull, Swede Marcus Ericsson of Sauber, Raikkonen and local hero Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, the last two without clocking a lap time.
Verstappen suffered power problems and had also picked up a grid penalty for an engine change. His Toro Rosso team-mate Spaniard Carlos Sainz made it into the top ten shootout in 10th place.
On their first runs, Hamilton was quickest in 1:47.449 ahead of Rosberg, who made an error and ran over a kerb, by 0.446 seconds. Bottas was third, adrift by 1.118 seconds.