Lewis Hamilton roared to a record-equalling 68th career pole position on Saturday, matching Michael Schumacher’s record in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old three-time world champion will start Sunday’s race, the 200th of his career, from his sixth pole this year with championship leader German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari alongside him in second.
Hamilton’s lap in 1min 42.553sec was the all-time record fastest at the spectacular Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the forests of the Belgian Ardennes, 0.242 seconds quicker than Vettel.
The 68th pole position for the Mercedes driver drew him level in the record books with seven-time champion Schumacher whose congratulations were conveyed to him immediately afterwards by former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn.
Vettel, who Ferrari said Saturday has signed a three-year contract extension, secured his front-row spot with a late and dramatic lap for Ferrari. He leads Hamilton by 14 points with nine races remaining this year.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Finn Valtteri Bottas qualified third ahead of compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, Dutchman Max Vestappen and his Red Bull team- mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
German Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez and his Force India team-mate Frenchman Esteban Ocon and Briton Jolyon Palmer, who was 10th for Renault after an engine failure.