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Live Commentary: Belgian Grand Prix - qualifying - as it happened

Live coverage of qualifying for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
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Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver left it late in changeable conditions at Spa-Francorchamps, beating Sebastian Vettel into second.

Force India's Paul di Resta led for much of Q3, but the track dried up in the final couple of minutes, allowing Hamilton, Vettel, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg to sneak ahead of the Scot.

Read how all the action unfolded below:


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Good afternoon! It's just under half-an-hour until lights out for qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel appearing to have the fastest car so far this weekend.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was fastest in the first practice yesterday morning, but the reigning world champion has been in control since then. Alonso has never won at Spa, while Vettel took a race two years ago.

Much of the talk in the build-up to this race has been surrounding next season's driver lineups, with Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo being strongly linked to the vacant seat at Red Bull. Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso have also been linked to the current constructors' world champions.

However, tyres have also come back into the spotlight at this race, with Vettel and Alonso both suffering punctures during second practice yesterday. Pirelli invested the cause, and have blamed a piece of titanium at turn 13, which has now been removed. It seems to have worked, as practice three passed without incident.

One big factor for this afternoon's qualifying session will be the weather. It's been dry in Belgium for the majority of this morning, but a rain system is closing in on the circuit, so it looks like the wet tyres could be coming out of their blankets at some point this afternoon. At the moment, the forecast indicates that it should be dry for the race, but the weather at Spa is notoriously unpredictable.

Last year's winner, Jenson Button also looked strong in this morning's practice, posting the sixth-fastest lap time, while his teammate, Sergio Perez, was back in 16th. The Woking-based team have struggled to compete with those at the front of the grid this year, but looked to have found some pace last time out in Hungary, and the 2009 world champions has refused to rule out the possibility of a podium this weekend.

The rain appears to have arrived, with fans around the circuit reaching for the umbrellas and rain ponchos. The teams will have had to chose between a wet or dry set-up last night, so this could cause one or two surprises in qualifying.

Here's a picture of the rather gloomy conditions above Spa at the moment, courtesy of the Lotus team's official Twitter account:


Right then, just a few minutes until the first cars head out to the track, so it's time for a prediction. Although Sebastian Vettel has looked strong all weekend, the wet conditions may change things. His teammate, Mark Webber, has a history of putting in strong qualifying performances in changeable conditions, so I think he could just get the better of Vettel this afternoon.

Cars are already lining up at the end of the pit lane, keen to get out before the track gets even wetter.

GREEN LIGHT! Both Caterham, both Williams cars and one of the Marussia's head straight out as Q1 gets underway.

Just a reminder, since it has been a few weeks since the last Grand Prix, the first session is 20 minutes long, and will see the slowest six cars eliminated from qualifying.

Vettel is heading out early too with intermediate tyres on his Red Bull. Alonso is also on track with the same tyre compound.

All 22 drivers are now on track. Pastor Maldonado will be the first driver to complete a timed lap, but he runs wide at the end of the Kemmel Straight.

Jules Vergne sets the early pace with a time of 2:08.447, but Lewis Hamilton quickly beats that with a 2:07.008 although he was held up behind the Marussia's, so he should be able to go even faster. It looks like the rain has almost stopped, so the track could begin to dry up as qualifying continues.

Nico Rosberg replaces his Mercedes teammate at the top, while Mark Webber slips into third. Hamilton is stuck behind another Marussia, but manages to squeeze past at the Bus Stop chicane to get himself into clean air.

Esteban Gutierrez hooks up a strong lap to move into second, just 0.066 seconds behind Rosberg, but Mark Webber posts a new fastest lap of the session, although he's quickly knocked down to second by his Red Bull teammate. Meanwhile, a the track is starting to dry out on the racing line. With just over 10 minutes left, will anyone be bold enough to try slicks before the end of Q1?

At the moment, it looks like it's the Force India duo who are struggling for pace. Adrian Sutil manages to drag himself out of the bottom six, but Paul di Resta is currently in the drop zone. Vettel pits for new tyres, and is told by his engineer that he has the choice of intermediates or slicks.

The lap times are starting to come down, allowing Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton all to beat Vettel's time. Rosberg beats them all with a time of 2:03.883.

More drivers are stating to come in for fresh tyres. Along with the Caterhams and Marussia's, Di Resta and Maldonado sit in the bottom six. Di Resta is in the pits. Meanwhile, Max Chilton, who is currently last, switches to slick tyres, and Van der Garde is going the same. The Dutchman looks a bit unsteady heading through Eau Rouge though.

Esteban Gutierrez's earlier pace appears not to have been a fluke, as the Sauber driver moves back into second behind Rosberg. Most of the front runners are heading back out, but sticking with the intermediates. Pastor Maldonado finds some cracking pace though, moving from 17th to the top of the leader board.

Di Resta has also got himself out of trouble, replacing Maldonado at the top, but Hulkenberg and Webber quickly go above him. The lap times are really starting to tumble now, except for Chilton and Van der Garde, whose experiment with slicks appears to have failed.

CHEQUERED FLAG! The flag drops, so everyone on track is on their final lap. Both Ferraris are currently in the drop zone, but they are both on track.

OUT! 17. Maldonado, 18. Vergne, 19. Ricciardo, 20. Bottas, 21. Gutierrez, 22. Pic.

What a difference those final couple of minutes made! It's a disaster for Toro Rosso, as both Ricciardo and Vergne find themselves near the bottom of the timesheets. Gutierrez also eased off too soon, slipping from second to 21st.

It's better news for Caterham and Marussia, who usually lock out the last two rows of the grid. Chilton and Van der Garde fianlly found the pace with their slick tyres, with the Dutchman finishing third in the session. Chilton's Marussia teammate, Jules Bianchi, also makes it into Q2.

In the end, it was Fernando Alonso who posted the fastest lap of the session with a time of 2:00.190.

GREEN LIGHT! Q2 is underway, but no-one has left their garage yet.

Van der Garde thanks his engineer for switching him on to slick tyres before getting ready for the second part of quyalifying. Kimi Raikkonen is one of the first to take to the track for Q2.

Hulkenberg posts the first lap time of the session, but Mark Webber beats his time straight away with a 1:50.128. Raikkonen manages to go third, but locks up his tyres at the start of his next lap.

Vettel and the Mercedes duo are still in their garages and yet to set a time with eight minutes remaining. Webber beats his earlier time, but loses the top spot to Raikkonen, who is the first to break the 1:50 barrier.

Of the 13 cars to have set lap times so far, it's the two Marussia's and Van der Garde's Caterham who are in the drop zone. Vettel and the Mercedes drivers are now on track.

Hamilton comfortably moves into second with his first timed lap of the session, but Rosberg backs off to save his tyres for another lap, setting the slowest time of the session. Vettel finally gets a time of the board, taking almost half a second out of Raikkonen's earlier time to move to the top with less than thrre minutes remaining.

Nico Hulkenberg is judging the conditions well, and manages to sneak into second, just 0.255 second behind Vettel. Massa, Perez and Rosberg currently join the Marussias and Van der Garde in the bottom six.

CHEQUERED FLAG! It's the end of the session, and Perez manages to get himself into the top 10. There are still a few cars on fast laps, so the positions could change. Rosberg is currently 16th.

OUT! 11. Hulkenberg, 12. Sutil, 13. Perez, 14. Van der Garde, 15. Bianchi, 16. Chilton.

Unsurprisingly, both Marussia's and Van der Garde head out. Perez initially got himself out of trouble, but some strong final laps from those around him saw him drop back down. Hulkenberg had looked good for a place in Q3, but Lewis Hamilton edged him out by 0.2 seconds.

Raikkonen ended the session fastest, while Rosberg managed to jump up to third with his only hot lap of the session. While Sutil dropped out, his teammate, Paul di Resta sealed eighth to make Q3.

The front runners are queuing in the pit lane ready for Q3 with more rain on the way according to several of the teams.

GREEN LIGHT! Nine of the top 10 head straight out for he top 10 shoot out as the rain starts to fall again. Paul di Resta remains in the garage.

Those on track are on slicks, but Di Resta is preparing to come out on slicks. The other nine all head straight back into the pits, as the track is too wet. Force India may have judged this brilliantly for Di Resta, as the Scot is just starting his first timed lap.

Even on intermediates, Di Resta is having to fight the car, it might not be that far off full wets. He comes round the final corner for a time of 2:02.332. If the track conditions continue to worsen, that will be hard to beat with less than five minutes left.

Massa is the first to head back out, while the rest of the front runners follow shortly after. Traffic could be a big issue for them. Massa finishes his lap 1.7 seconds slower than Di Resta.

It's getting wetter all the time, but Rosberg manages to put in an impressive time, finishing half a second behind Di Resta. Vettel is struggling with the conditions, slotting into eighth.

CHEQUERED FLAG! Vettel manages to move up just before the flag so will get another lap, but Rosberg manages to improve his time to drop Di Resta down into second.

LEWIS HAMILTON IS ON POLE POSITION FOR THE BELGIAN GRAND PRIX!

The track dries up right at the end of the session, allowing Hamilton, who was the last to complete a lap, to steal pole position. Paul Di Resta drops down to fifth, having pitted before the chequered flag.

TOP 10! 1. Hamilton, 2.Vettel, 3. Webber, 4. Rosberg, 5. Di Resta, 6. Button, 7. Grosjean, 8. Raikkonen, 9. Alonso, 10. Massa

Mercedes seem rather happy with their qualifying performance.



That's four pole positions in a row for Hamilton, but he's converted just one of his previous three into race wins. Can he make it two from four? Join us again tomorrow afternoon for live coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. Until then, thanks for joining me this afternoon, goodbye.

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Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso, Caterham F1 Team's Dutch driver Guido Van Der Garde and Red Bull Racing's German driver Sebastian Vettel drive during the second practice session at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa on August 23, 2013
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
JapanJapan114520
United StatesUnited States1010929
ChinaChina105823
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78419
AustraliaAustralia61815
Great BritainGreat Britain56415
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events


ROWING
· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

CYCLING
· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

DIVING
· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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