Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton hails team following Belgian Grand Prix victory

The battered rear axis and wheel of the Brazilian veteran's car following his early crash

The key to Hamilton's pole was arguably a stupendous effort through the middle sector of the lap at the demanding Spa-Francorchamps track in the Ardennes mountains. However, Raikkonen showed good pace in the final of three practice sessions and although he was unable to challenge for pole, Vettel felt confident that Ferrari had the pace to challenge for the win.

He was unhurt in the accident and, after a medical check, was back in the team garage as Ricciardo and Raikkonen set the pace ahead of Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton and Vettel.

Nico Hulkenberg wound up seventh for Renault ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, while Jolyon Palmer's rotten luck continued as he suffered a clutch problem in Q2 before a complete loss of oil pressure in Q3, leaving him P10 on the grid without a time to his name.

Working with fresh tires down the stretch, Clements chased down Tifft after pitting with nine laps left to surrender the lead.

He also dismissed the idea that title rival Vettel might replace Bottas next year.

On lap 17 Raikkonen was given a 10-second stop-go penalty for failing to slow for double yellow flags around Max Verstappen's car which had come to a halt on the Kemmel Straight. "But everybody is fired up and I am pretty confident that we will have some good races coming".

Ocon was ninth for Force India - but could have been higher but for the contact with Perez on lap 29. We aren't where we want to be yet, but we are striving for the top. I was fearing I was not close enough but I was too close.

If the cars were reversed I don't think I would have been able to hold as close as he did.

Hamilton took a maiden pole only six races into his F1 career, at the 2007 Canadian GP. His exasperation was understandable - it is the sixth time this season he has failed to finish the race, and some 80,000 Dutch fans had crossed the border to cheer him on.

Vettel currently has a seven point lead, the difference between a victory and second place, with Hamilton ahead 5-4 on race wins.

11 - Hamilton has competed in 11 consecutive grand prix campaigns, and has won at least one race in each of those years.

"I've had the privilege of racing with him, from karting days in Kerpen to on the [F1] track and I've always admired him and still do". After we'd slowed down they could have done a Virtual Safety Car but I guess they wanted to see a race. Yet it was the latter who held pole, despite Vettel's strong start.

Alonso later asked whether there was a chance of rain.

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