Verstappen takes Belgian GP pole position in wet qualifying

SPA, BELGIUM – AUGUST 28: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2021 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool.

Max Verstappen is on the pole position for Sunday’s Belgian GP race, while George Russell will unexpectedly follow him on the front row.

After three free practices were done at Spa Francorchamps, it was time to determine the starting grid for the Belgian GP. Weather affected the session as it started 12 minutes later due to the track being too wet.

Everyone except Williams drivers decided to go on wet tires. Nicholas Latifi struggled early on as he had a spin. Both Mercedes drivers went wide. Sergio Perez set the early benchmark – 2:10.135. However, it was beaten by Williams drivers, which proved the effectiveness of intermediate tires.

All the drivers put intermediate tires on in order to improve their lap times and get to Q2. Lando Norris broke the 2-minute barrier and took the lead in Q1. He went even quicker at the checkered flag – 1:58.201. He was followed by Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. Antonio Giovinazzi, Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, and Nikita Mazepin were eliminated.

Shortly after, Q2 went underway. Intermediate tires remained the only option as the track was still wet. Norris was in the lead again. George Russell was feeling at ease in the tricky conditions as he was in the top 10. At the same time, Alpine had problems as Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were 14th and 15th respectively.

With less than 5 minutes to go in the segment, Verstappen topped the timesheets. However, Norris went quickest in Q2 again with a lap time of 1:56.025. Hamilton and Bottas had new tires and got to the top 3. Leclerc, Latifi, Sainz, Alonso, and Stroll did not advance to the qualifying finale.

Rain came back to the track ahead of Q3, which forced the drivers to go out on wet tires again. The conditions only became worse and Norris had a big shunt at Eau Rouge as a result. The McLaren driver was fine after the crash, but qualifying was obviously for him. The session was suspended.

The conditions were not improving as rain was only intensifying, so the pause was long. After several Safety Car outings, the session was finally resumed with 9 minutes to go. The drivers opted to set the laps on intermediate tires. Hamilton was the first to set a lap time and it was good enough for the provisional pole.

After a cooldown lap, the drivers had another flying lap. However, it was Russell who put the biggest shocker of the session – he took the provisional pole and was very close to taking the pole. However, Verstappen went quicker to win the qualifying. Hamilton completed the top 3 of the session.

The top 10 of the Belgian GP qualifying:

1Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing1:59.765
2George RussellWilliams Racing+0.321
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes+0.334
4Daniel RicciardoMcLaren+1.099
5Sebastian VettelAston Martin+1.170
6Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri+1.399
7Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing+2.347
8Valtteri BottasMercedes+2.737
9Esteban OconAlpine+3.748
10Lando NorrisMcLarenNo time
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