Rosberg beats Hamilton to Spa pole
23 August 2014 – Nico Rosberg beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pole in a wet qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix. The German made a late improvement during the final shootout to secure the top spot by two tenths of a second. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso completed the second row.
After the morning's wet/dry final practice, a brief but monumental rain shower hit the circuit and ensured a wet start to the grid-deciding hour.
Although Q1 passed without further rainfall, steady drizzle throughout Q2 and Q3 saw the drivers remain on Pirelli's Intermediate compound.
The final shootout played into Rosberg's hands from the off, with Hamilton running wide at La Source on his opening attempt, leading to him abandoning the effort and eventually delivering a conservative time.
On the second timed runs, Hamilton again struggled to put together a clean lap and, despite gaining time, Rosberg improved to 2:05.591 to secure his seventh pole of the season and his fourth in succession.
Vettel was more than two seconds adrift of pace-setter Rosberg in third. But after an opening day marred by technical trouble, the German did well to edge out Alonso and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa had to settle for sixth and ninth in the wet – conditions that the team has traditionally found difficult so far this season. The pair were split by McLaren's Kevin Magnussen and Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen, while the remaining MP4-29 of Jenson Button rounded out the top 10 positions.
Toro Rosso team-mates Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Éric Vergne narrowly missed out on Q3. The Russian rookie was seemingly so frustrated with the situation that he threw his hands in the air and spun on his return to the pits.
Force India's Sergio Pérez, Sauber's Adrian Sutil and Lotus driver Romain Grosjean also fell at the second hurdle, while Marussia's Jules Bianchi was just pleased to be there after another starring Q1 performance.
In the opening session, Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hülkenberg were the biggest names to fall, the Lotus driver suffering a spin and the Force India man complaining of a lack of brake temperature on his final timed run.
Max Chilton qualifed ahead of Esteban Gutiérrez after the Sauber driver was forced to pull off the track with a technical issue, while André Lotterer beat Caterham team-mate Marcus Ericsson in his first qualifying session.
Sunday's 44-lap Belgian Grand Prix gets underway at 2pm local time (GMT +2)