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Belgian GP: Rosberg takes pole

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (AP) – When Nico Rosberg took pole position for the Belgium Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was watching on television with his feet up.

Normally, the Mercedes teammates and championship rivals would be giving everything they have on track to be the fastest.

Not this time.

Because Hamilton was already certain to start the race from the back of the grid as a result of incurring grid penalties linked to too many engine part changes this season. In total, he got a massive 55-place demotion, sending him to last place in the 22-car race.

It rendered his qualifying session pointless, and after only four laps he went back to the garage.

“It’s been a vacation weekend, just been chilling,” Hamilton joked, adding that he watched the end of qualifying “in my room, in my shorts.”

He’ll be back to the serious business on Sunday.

Hamilton, the defending champion and series leader, must limit the damage and protect his 19-point lead over Rosberg as much as possible. This, on a long and difficult seven-kilometer (four-mile) track where the unexpectedly high heat is causing havoc with tires pumped up to rock-hard pressure.