Sebastian Vettel signs three-year extension with Ferrari

Ferrari’s Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen celebrating on the podium with his trophy at the Hungaroring racing circuit. – AP

On the 25th anniversary of Michael Schumacher's first Grand Prix win, Hamilton set about emulating the racing legend in style.

Having confirmed Raikkonen has a further one-year contract earlier, Ferrari's announcement is likely to settle the driver market, with Mercedes now expected to confirm that Bottas will be retained for next year and Hamilton signed until 2018.

After the three practise sessions on Friday and Saturday, qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix starts at 1pm on Saturday afternoon with the race 24 hours later.

Hamilton, 32, clinched pole with a lap record time of 1min 42.5secs around the challenging twisty and hilly 4.3m circuit, the longest in F1. I did not apply pressure, but now being there it is an unusual place to be. "I remember coming here in 1996, my first grand prix, and watching Michael come by and the engine vibrated my rib cage and that was when my love for the sport took another step".

"I think it's highly unlikely that he will be here", he said. "If I wouldn't feel that I can go fast, and I wouldn't be happy in myself, I wouldn't be here". To be able to put a lap together like that is a dream.

"There are a couple of options that we are analyzing and trying to get the best one", he added when asked whether he was looking long-term or for a one-year deal. It's a pleasure to be here.

In total, Schumacher won a record six times at Spa, and the Belgian track was also the venue at which he clinched his seventh world title in 2004.

He is the only driver to have won seven Formula One World Championships, five of which he won consecutively.

Schumacher suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident at the end of 2013 and has been in prolonged private recuperation at his family home in Switzerland since then.

Hamilton's fourth Belgian pole was the 68th of the Mercedes star's career, and after delivering it his (and Schumacher's) former team boss Ross Brawn was on hand to share in the historic moment.

"You don't want your competitors to see if you are struggling mentally or physically, you don't ever want to show weakness", he said.

"Because Niki has a chat over coffee with Sebastian down there and says, 'By the way what are you doing the next three years?' And Sebastian says, 'Well, I'm thinking about it.' They had a conversation".



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