• Belgian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Mercedes 'extracted more than the car can do' - Hamilton

ESPN Staff
August 24, 2013 « Suzuka confirms contract extension | Vettel pleased to avoid slip-up »
Lewis Hamilton got the best of the track conditions with his final lap to take pole position © Associated Press
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Lewis Hamilton believes Red Bull still has the edge over Mercedes and as a result his pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix exceeded the car's potential.

Mercedes had looked slightly off the pace during practice at Spa but Hamilton was able to take advantage of being the last car across the line on a drying track to take pole position ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Hamilton admitted he didn't feel he had the quickest car but had taken more out of it in order to get pole position.

"I think this weekend [the Red Bulls have] both shown that they have incredible pace, but I'm hoping that whatever the conditions are tomorrow we can try to fight it out with them," Hamilton said. "The guys have done a fantastic job bringing a good package here and I generally feel that we're quite close. I still feel the Red Bull is a little bit ahead of us in performance and that's why results like this today feel even better because we feel like we've extracted more than what the car can actually do so I'm really happy with it."

Reflecting on his pole position, Hamilton said he was driving the lap blind and had been hugely surprised to find out he was on pole.

"It was obviously a good job by the team but I was just so surprised when I came across the line. When I started the lap I saw on the screen that I was about seventh or eighth and I was like 'Oh my God' - especially as it was raining more. I went wide at Turn 1 and my dash display - which normally tells you if you're up or down - and it said I was three seconds down, and then five seconds and six seconds, so I didn't understand what was going on during the lap but I just kept pushing. I could see I was catching Sebastian towards the end but what a blessing, I feel so fortunate to be up here."

Hamilton added that his middle sector - which was 1.2s quicker than Vettel - was as a result of not knowing what time he needed to set.

"I think generally I feel quite comfortable in changeable conditions and feel like I'm able to find the limit when the conditions are really on the edge. I pushed quite a lot through the middle sector, particularly as I thought I was down three seconds so I was really caning it and the car was really good."