Hamilton pleased with second place

Lewis Hamilton qualified second for the Belgian Grand Prix (AP)

Lewis Hamilton qualified second for the Belgian Grand Prix (AP)

First published in National Sport News © by

Lewis Hamilton believes his latest qualifying issue may yet prove to be "a blessing in disguise".

Hamilton will start second on the Spa-Francorchamps grid for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix after finishing a quarter of a second adrift of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

For the German, 11 points clear of Hamilton in the drivers' standings with eight races remaining, it is the 11th pole of his Formula One career, seventh this season and fourth in a row.

In the wet conditions that dominated the session, sparked by a downpour 40 minutes before the start that included a hailstorm, Rosberg will likely glean a sense of satisfaction in beating Hamilton again.

From Hamilton's perspective, there was almost a sense of relief in his voice he had come through qualifying relatively unscathed.

Saturdays of late have proven particularly uncomfortable for the 29-year-old, notably suffering a brake-disc failure in Germany last month that resulted in a high-speed crash into a barrier, and then a week later a fire caused by a fuel leak.

It says something of Hamilton's issues in qualifying that second on the grid represents his best starting position for five races since the Canadian Grand Prix in early June.

In this instance, only a bout of glazing - where the discs have been unable to get up to temperature and so create a polished surface when impacted together - hampered the Briton.

Given Spa is also a track where overtaking is easier than most other circuits, and the man on pole has only won six of the last 14 races, Hamilton admitted to being far from disappointed with second.

"In previous years P2 has been the best place to start here, so I feel quite blessed that is the case," said Hamilton.

"I started on pole here last year, yet Sebastian (Vettel) flew past me down the straight, so it (second) gives you the most opportunity here at the start.

"To be honest, I'm just happy to be here because I went into qualifying not knowing if the car was going to make it through.

"I'm grateful for all the hard work the team has put in to ensure we have no problems. It's a great feeling to be back up here."

Braking, however, was hampered as the glazing to the left front resulted in the car pulling to the right, and so time was lost.

"This is a circuit where you need to have confidence on the brakes," added Hamilton.

"You saw at times because of the glazing I was going straight on because the left brake wasn't working.

"I've had some good and bad experiences so far this season, but this is okay. It might be a blessing in disguise."

The team will be able to work on the brake overnight - the process is known as glaze-busting - to ensure they are in full working order for the race.

"When a brake glazes sometimes it's very hard to recover, especially in the wet. It goes shiny and you lose that bite," said Hamilton.

"You then have to move the brake balance forward, and whilst you are trying to clear that you are also overheating the rears, so it's not always that easy.

"But over the evening the team are able to scrub it and get rid of the glazing. In the dry it shouldn't be a problem."

Unsurprisingly, Mercedes were dominant, as they have been all season, but to such an extent in this instance that Sebastian Vettel finished 2.2secs adrift of Rosberg to claim third in his Red Bull.

Rosberg could offer no reason as to why he was so far ahead, stating: "It's just amazing to see how quick our car is. It's really great.

"So it was just Lewis I had to focus on, which makes it easier too, rather than a whole bunch of people, but it's a really impressive car."

And naturally countering Hamilton's remarks regarding starting from second, Rosberg added: "I'm just happy to be first. First is the best position for the race."

Behind the Mercedes duo it was at least a close-fought battle, with Vettel narrowly ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Jenson Button starts 10th in his McLaren, whilst Marussia's Max Chilton lines up 20th for a race anticipated to be dry, but given the capricious nature of the Ardennes, rain may fall at any time.

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