Rosberg claims pole at Belgium Grand Prix

Published On: Aug 23 2014 10:19:28 AM EDT
Updated On: Aug 24 2014 04:56:29 AM EDT
Nico Rosberg

REUTERS/Brandon Malone

(CNN) -

Let battle commence ... again.

After a four-week summer break, it was business as usual for Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton as they battled for supremacy in qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix on Saturday.

With eight races remaining in the 2014 Formula One season, it was the German who drew first blood taking pole position at the Spa Francorchamps circuit.

Heavy rain before and during the session made for treacherous conditions around the picturesque track which snakes through the Ardennes forest.

All the drivers struggled to keep control on the slippery surface but it was Rosberg who came out on top posting a time of two minutes 05.591 seconds in the third and final qualifying session (Q3) with Hamilton 0.228 seconds behind in second.

"It's awesome to be on pole especially at this track," Rosberg said. "But it's only qualifying and there is a long race tomorrow."

Hamilton had led the standings after Q2 but a mistake early in Q3 at the La Source hairpin (turn one) forced the Briton wide costing him valuable time.

Despite battling to the end of the session, Hamilton couldn't overhaul his Silver Arrows teammate and later revealed he had been hindered by a braking issue.

"I had a glazed front brake, so I was struggling under braking," Hamilton said. "I was losing massive amounts (of braking), especially into turn one."

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who won the race 12 months ago, finished third fastest, but was more than two seconds off the pace set by Rosberg.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso completes the second row of the grid after qualifying in fourth while Vettel's teammate Daniel Ricciardo -- the winner of the last F1 race in Hungary at the end of July -- starting Sunday's race from fifth.

Valtteri Bottas was fastest in the third practice session earlier in Saturday but could only steer his Williams to sixth ahead of McLaren's Kevin Magnussen in seventh and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in eighth.

Williams' Felipe Massa and Magnussen's teammate Jenson Button complete the top ten.

Conditions for Sunday's race are expected to be drier with sunny intervals forecast with a chance of rain later in the day.

Rosberg currently leads the drivers' championship with 202 points, 11 more than Hamilton with Daniel Ricciardo lying a distance third with 131 points.

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