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2016 Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying

MERCEDES DRIVER NICO ROSBERG CLAIMS POLE ON SUPERSOFT AND WILL START THE RACE ON SOFT

TWO AND THREE STOP STRATEGIES EXPECTED TOMORROW: WEATHER WILL AFFECT WEAR AND DEGRADATION RATES

TACTICS BEGIN IN QUALIFYING: DRIVERS USE SOFT TYRES IN Q2 IN ORDER TO START RACE WITH A POSSIBLE LONGER INITIAL STINT

With temperatures remaining unusually high for qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg claimed pole position, using the P Zero Red supersoft tyres. The most crucial sessions was Q2, with Rosberg, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, and the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen scored their best session time on the soft tyre – which will mean that they will start the race tomorrow on that compound, which should allow a longer initial stint. With those soft tyres Rosberg already beat the 2015 pole time.

The weather will continue to be a talking point tomorrow: the forecast for tomorrow is for warm temperatures, but some rain could be possible at the race time. High temperatures would affect wear and degradation rates, adding a key thermal element to a circuit where wear and degradation is already quite high. As a result, both two and three stop strategies are anticipated tomorrow, with the rapid supersoft (on which most of the top 10 will start the race) expected only to complete a relatively short opening stint.

As qualifying got underway, track temperatures were in excess of 40 degrees centigrade. All the drivers came out on supersoft for Q1, with the exception of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who was the only driver to choose soft. His team mate Lewis Hamilton, who has been affected by grid penalties, took a tactical approach to qualifying in order to maximise his opportunities in the race, completing only Q1 to ensure he was within 107% of the pole time.

During Q3 all the drivers run supersoft from start to finish. Rosberg took pole with a time of 1m46.744s, ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who claimed his best-ever qualifying result.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “The high track temperatures have increased the wear and degradation rates on a circuit that is already very demanding on tyres. We’re expecting two or three pit stops per car, depending on degradation rates, and we’ve seen the tyre strategy start already with a number of drivers completing Q2 using the soft compound. With some drivers – notably Lewis Hamilton – starting out of position as well, due to grid penalties, we should see an intriguing mix of tactics during the grand prix tomorrow.”

Free practice 3 – top three times

Raikkonen 1m47.974s Supersoft New
Ricciardo 1m48.189s Supersoft New
Vettel 1m48.297s Supersoft New

Qualifying top 10

Rosberg 1m46.744s Supersoft New
Verstappen 1m46.893s Supersoft New
Raikkonen 1m46.910s Supersoft New
Vettel 1m47.108s Supersoft New
Ricciardo 1m47.216s Supersoft New
Perez 1m47.407s Supersoft New
Hulkenberg 1m47.543s Supersoft New
Bottas 1m47.612s Supersoft New
Button 1m48.114s Supersoft New
Massa 1m48.263s Supersoft New

Most laps by compound so far

Medium Rosberg 18 laps
Soft Magnussen 21
Soft Proto Bottas 15
Supersoft Hulkenberg 13
Supersoft Vettel 13

Best time by compound so far

Medium Rosberg 1m49.520s
Soft Rosberg 1m46.999s
Soft Proto Rosberg 1m49.481s
Supersoft Rosberg 1m46.744s

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Distribution channels: Automotive