Max Verstappen clinched pole position for 2021 Belgian Grand Prix following a wet Qualifying ahead of Williams’ George Russell, whilst Lando Norris escaped a horror crash at Raidillon.
Verstappen was quickest in FP3 which was largely curtailed after the half hour mark due to rain, with the conditions worsening during the afternoon which caused Qualifying to be delayed 30 minutes.
McLaren’s Lando Norris proceeded to top Q1 and Q2 but suffered a violent crash at Raidillon after suffering oversteer at start of Q3, which caused a red flag as the rain intensified to leave a drying track as Q3 resumed.
Verstappen ultimately prevailed with a last-gasp lap to deny Russell who had opted for an one-lap flier in Q3, which initially left him set for pole until Verstappen’s lap proved fast enough to deny him.
Now here is a full roundup of Saturday’s F1 action at a wet Spa Francorchamps, Belgium.
FP3 began in damp conditions after heavy rain fell throughout the morning which affected the opening F3 race, as Russell, Esteban Ocon and both Haas drivers headed straight out on intermediates with other drivers following suit.
Russell set the initial benchmark of 2m 05.546 after out-braking himself at the Bus Stop chicane at end of his installation lap, yet was soon displaced at the top by several drivers as Hamilton put his Mercedes top with 1m 57.996 after opening runs.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were the only two drivers who were eventually able to better Hamilton’s effort, as Verstappen topped the session on 1m 56.924 with Perez sat 0.947 seconds behind in second but just 0.125s clear of Hamilton who finished third.
Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Sebastian Vettel, Russell and Fernando Alonso rounded out the top ten, as conditions deteriorated throughout the second half of the session in which several drivers including Hamilton and Bottas had wide moments.
Gasly meanwhile suffered a spin at Courbe Paul Frere with nine minutes left but was able to correct his AlphaTauri before it could even touch the gravel trap.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 56.924|
|2||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.947|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 1.072|
|4||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.585|
|5||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 1.989|
|6||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 2.281|
|7||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 2.400|
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 2.512|
|9||George Russell||Williams||+ 2.568|
|10||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 2.689|
|11||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 2.884|
|12||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 3.057|
|13||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 3.532|
|14||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 3.825|
|15||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 4.345|
|16||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 4.446|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 4.586|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 4.588|
|19||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 4.868|
|20||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 7.458|
Everyone except for Nicholas Latifi and Russell opted for wet tyres at the start whereas the latter pair headed out on intermediate tyres, which immediately paid dividends as Russell set the early benchmark time of 2 02.068 on his second flier after Latifi spun at Campus on his first effort.
Times however soon tumbled as the circuit began to dry out and everyone pitted for fresh intermediates, which eventually left Norris top come the checkered flag with a 1m 58.301.
Antonio Giovinazzi meanwhile headed up the five Q1 elimination spots ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Nikita Mazepin.
As the track continued to dry and Latifi led the pack out for Q2, everyone but Mercedes opted for fresh intermediates as Lando Norris set the benchmark of 1m 57.235 whilst Hamilton and Bottas had to pit for new tyres.
After the opening runs, Latifi, Ocon, Alonso, Hamilton and Bottas occupied the elimination spots with both Ferrari drivers amongst those flirting with elimination, heading into the final nine minutes.
Come the checkered flag, Hamilton and Bottas escaped after using a third set of fresh intermediates which could cost them if the race is wet, as they finished second and third behind Norris who topped Q2 with 1m 56.025.
Ocon also escaped the drop at Charles Leclerc’s expense as both Ferrari drivers crashed out in Q2 as Carlos Sainz found himself 13th fastest behind Latifi, as Alonso and Stroll found themselves knocked out in 14th and 15th positions respectively.
Stroll will start last as a result of a five place grid penalty for hitting Leclerc during the start of the Hungarian GP.
Rain returned with a torrential vengeance with Norris and Vettel calling for a red flag, which stewards ignored until Norris oversteered through Eau Rouge into Raidillon, which caused his rear to snap and violently smash into the near barriers which propelled him across the track to a halt.
Vettel was consequently left furious as he grinded to a near-halt to check that Norris was ok as he drove through the wreckage, as the red flag was waved with the session not resuming for 42 minutes after the rain intensified during the stoppage.
Norris went to the medical centre for checks and an x-ray on his elbow but was declared fully fit to participate in tomorrow’s race (29 August).
Once the session resumed, Ocon was first out on track on wet tyres whereas the eight other cars still in contention for pole soon followed him out but on intermediates, in turn forcing Ocon to pit at end of his outlap for fresh intermediates.
Hamilton proceeded to set the benchmark provisional pole time of 2m 01.552 ahead of Verstappen by 0.973s, as Bottas, Vettel and Gasly rounded out the top five after opening runs.
Ultimately come the checkered flag in drying conditions, it was Max Verstappen who snatched pole at the death with a 1m 59.765 to deny Russell a shock maiden pole by just 0.321s, with Hamilton third fastest and just 0.013s behind his compatriot.
Daniel Ricciardo, Vettel, Gasly, Perez, Bottas and Ocon completed the top nine, although Bottas will start 13th as a consequence of a five place grid penalty collected following an opening lap crash in Hungary.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1m 59.765|
|2||George Russell||Williams||+ 0.321|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.334|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 1.099|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.170|
|6||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 1.399|
|7||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 2.347|
|8||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 2.737|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 3.748|
|10||Lando Norris||McLaren||No Time Set|
|11||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||1m 57.721|
|12||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.335|
|13||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.416|
|14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 0.484|
|15||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 0.510|
|16||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||2m 02.306|
|17||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 0.107|
|18||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 1.667|
|19||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 2.146|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 2.633|