Verstappen declared the winner after two laps behind the safety car

This will go down in Formula 1’s history as the shortest race with just two laps behind the safety car with Max Verstappen declared the winner of the Belgian Gand Prix in a heavily-rain affected race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Following a rain-affected qualifying on Saturday, showers continued to hit the Spa region throughout Sunday in the build-up to the start.

Race control announced shortly before the planned race start at 1500 local time that formation laps would be completed behind the safety car, and pushed the start of this out to 1525.

The field completed two full formation laps, but with most of the drivers reporting poor visibility and a lack of grip, the race was red- flagged at 1530 and all drivers returned to the pit lane.

A lengthy delay followed, but with the rain showing no sign of abating and the timer ticking down from the start of the three-hour window at 1500, the chances of running a race to award full points grew slim.

With one hour remaining on the clock at 1700, the race stewards temporarily stopped the race, freezing the clock to try and wait for a break in the weather.

The rain eased slightly so the field could return to the track behind the safety car at 1817, passing the green light at pit exit, and completed two full laps to ensure the race was official and a classification could be issued.

During the third lap behind the safety car, race control red-flagged the race again, prompting the drivers to return to the pitlane, before it was officially declared as the final result at 1844.

It means Verstappen officially wins the Belgian Grand Prix for Red Bull Racing, scoring 12.5 points for the victory, while George Russell scored his first Formula 1 podium in second position for Williams, scoring nine points.

Verstappen’s title rival, Lewis Hamilton, completed the podium in third place, picking up 7.5 points.

It is the first Formula 1 race to run to half points since the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix, and the shortest race in the history of the sport to have an official classification. The previous low was 14 laps completed at the 1991 Australian Grand Prix.

The result means that Hamilton’s lead at the top of the drivers’ championship has been cut to just three points ahead of next weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

Daniel Ricciardo was classified in fourth position ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly, while Hungarian Grand Prix winner Esteban Ocon crossed the line in seventh for Alpine.

Charles Leclerc is recorded as finishing eighth for Ferrari, two places clear of teammate Carlos Sainz, while Nicholas Latifi took ninth, giving Williams back-to-back double-points finishes.

Despite the two laps being completed behind the safety car, Nikita Mazepin is officially awarded the fastest lap of the race – three minutes, 18.016 seconds – but does not receive any bonus point as he finished outside of the top ten.

So a complete farce from race control to find a break in the wet weather. After waiting for over three hours, the ‘race’ was behind the safety car and in the end, it was dangerous and only half points were awarded.

Belgian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 3:27.071
2 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 2.198
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 3.518
4 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 5.951
5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 7.894
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 10.275
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 11.791
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 13.217
9 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 15.634
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 16.961
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 20.259
12 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 21.946
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 23.530
14 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 26.085
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 28.781
16 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 30.900
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 32.687
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 34.838
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 36.322
20 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 38.690

Verstappen takes pole position and yet Russell qualifies on the front row with Williams

Max Verstappen will start the Belgian Grand Prix in pole position, beating George Russell to the top spot in a tricky, wet qualifying which was disrupted by a huge Q3 crash for Lando Norris.

Lewis Hamilton completed the top three, with Valtteri Bottas down in eighth position.

Rain intensifying ahead of Q3 meant conditions switched back to the drivers needing full wets, after the intermediates had been the tyres of choice in Q1 and Q2.

Norris, who had set the fastest times in Q1 and Q2, reported some aquaplaning on his Q3 out-lap, where Sebastian Vettel, following shortly just behind the McLaren, called for the session to be stopped.

After Russell had led the pack into the opening laps of the shootout, Norris’s correction to a slight snapped of oversteer through the second part of Eau Rouge sent his car spearing left and into the barriers side-on just before Raidillon and the top of the hill.

The huge impact ripped off two wheels and damaged all four corners of the McLaren, which bounced off the barriers and spun around wildly several times before coming to rest in the run-off beyond Raidillon.

After Vettel had stopped to check Norris was okay, the McLaren driver was able to climb from his car and the session was halted for over 40 minutes as the wreckage was cleared away and the FIA then assessed the conditions to allow for a restart.

When it did, Esteban Ocon and Russell led the pack out on full wets, but they pitted at the end of their out-laps to join the rest of the Q3 runners on the inters.

Hamilton and Bottas therefore set the first timed laps of Q3, with Hamilton leading after the first Q3 runs had been completed with a two minutes, 01.552 seconds, while Verstappen slotted in nearly a second adrift of his title rival at this stage.

On the final runs, Russell, who had only just completed his first timed lap on Q3 and gone ninth fastest, stayed on it for a second successive lap and went even faster by setting two purple sectors.

Russell shot up to provisional pole, while Hamilton, who was following the Mercedes junior, could not beat him and wound by 0.013 seconds adrift.

But Verstappen still had to complete his lap and fastest Q3 time in the middle sector, allied to personal bests in the other two, meant he snuck into pole at the last moment with a 1m59.765s – the only driver to get under the two minutes bracket in the final part of qualifying.

Daniel Ricciardo took fourth for McLaren, ahead of Vettel and Pierre Gasly, while Sergio Perez, who had been second fastest once all the drivers had completed their first runs in Q3, took seventh – Perez the only driver of the top nine not to set a personal best on his final Q3 lap.

Bottas took eighth but will start five places further back thanks to his grid penalty for causing the crash at the head of the pack at the first corner of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Ocon ended up in ninth place, with Norris classified ninth but possibly facing a grid drop if he repairs to his car mean taking new restricted components or starting from the pitlane.

In Q2, the story was mainly about the Mercedes drivers having to pit twice to change their inters after initially being sent out on used sets.

This put them out of sync with the rest of the pack and meant they spent most of Q2 at the foot of the times and were sitting down in P11 and P12 ahead of the final runs.

But after coming in to take a second new set of inters for Q2 – their third overall in qualifying – Hamilton and Bottas improved enough to get through safely.

Behind them, Ricciardo’s jump with his final effort in Q2 knocked out Charles Leclerc in P11 – the Ferrari driver paying the price for not bettering his personal best times in sectors two and three on his final lap.

Nicholas Latifi took P12 for Williams – his best Formula 1 qualifying result – after being shuffled back by others also improving late in Q2, but Nicholas did set a personal best on his final lap – as did Fernando Alonso on his way to taking P14.

Either side of the Alpine driver were Carlos Sainz, who pitted at the end of his final timed lap in the middle segment, and Lance Stroll, who missed setting a final Q2 time as he could not complete a late out lap in time.

Like Bottas, Stroll will drop five places on Sunday’s grid for causing the second shunt at the start of the Budapest race last time out.

In Q1, which was delayed by 12 minutes as the FIA assessed how wet the conditions were around the circuit following rain falling ahead of qualifying starting, the Williams drivers led the pack out as the only two drivers running the intermediates.

Although Latifi spun at the Fanges chicane on his first flying lap – going around again on the sodden, puddled-filled grass beyond the sequence – the Williams pair proved that the inters were the tyres to have and the rest of the pack switched from full wets after every driver had completed at least one run.

Russell and Latifi were shuffled down the order as the drivers found time with every lap they completed on the inters, despite the threat of further rain falling.

Although several drivers – including Ricciardo, Alonso and Hungarian Grand Prix winner Ocon were under pressure come the end of Q1 – personal bests on their final runs from Antonio Giovinazzi and Yuki Tsunoda were not enough to get them through.

The Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri drivers were knocked out in P16 and P17 respectively, while Mick Schumacher took 18th for Haas despite not completing his fastest time on his last Q1 lap.

Kimi Raikkonen did produce his best right at the end of the opening segment, but that was only good enough for P19 and ahead of Nikita Mazepin at the rear of the field.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen with pole position and yet it’s Mr Saturday aka George Russell who achieved a front row start in a Williams. Such a fabulous result in qualifying. Hopefully this performance will make Toto Wolff – the head of Mercedes – to sign Russell for next season.

Belgian Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:59.765
2 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 2:00.086
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2:00.099
4 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 2:00.864
5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 2:00.935
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 2:01.164
7 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 2:02.112
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 2:03.513
9 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes No time
10 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:57.721
11 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:58.056
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:58.137
13 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 2:02.502*
14 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:58.205
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 2:02.306
16 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 2:02.413
17 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 2:03.973
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 2:04.452
19 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 2:04.939
20 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:58.231*

*Five-place grid penalty for causing a collision in the Hungarian Grand Prix

Ocon taking first victory after chaos on opening lap

Esteban Ocon won an incredible Hungarian Grand Prix by beating Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to score a top result for Alpine.

The first crash at Turn 1 was the major issue in this race and it was caused by Valtteri Bottas, whose mistake sliding into the back of Lando Norris impacted both Red Bull cars and left Max Verstappen battling back to eventually finish the race in P10.

At the initial start, Hamilton and Verstappen made good getaways on the damp track after rain had fallen steadily in the 30 minutes before the start, which meant all the cars lined up on inters, while Bottas dropped down several places leaving the line.

But worse was to come from the Mercedes driver as he appeared to completely misjudge his braking for the first corner, having been passed by Sergio Perez and Lando Norris, with Bottas locking up and sliding straight into the back of the McLaren.

This had two knock-on effects, with Norris sent shunting into Verstappen’s right-hand side, the Red Bull’s right-front wheel somehow staying on, while Bottas, his left-front broken, continued sliding and clattered into Perez on the far outside, with all four sent into the runoff beyond Turn 1.

Bottas retired there while Verstappen led Norris and Perez away, around the debris of a second Turn 1 shunt that was triggered by the out-of-control Lance Stroll going onto the grass on the inside of the right-hander and then careering into Charles Leclerc, who had been set to move up to second behind Hamilton.

Stroll’s error broke his left-front against the Ferrari, which in turn was knocked wide and hit Daniel Ricciardo, who had been edging up Leclerc’s outside – the McLaren sent spinning to the back of the reduced pack.

The debris field at Turn 1 initially led to a safety car being called, under which Red Bull pitted Verstappen, while Esteban Ocon was the main beneficiary of the chaos as he ran second behind Hamilton and ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Verstappen lost his right barge board as he exited the pits, just before the race was stopped to allowed the track to be cleared and because Perez, whose car was smoking heavily from the hit from Bottas, had stopped on the short straight between Turns 11 and 12 at the start of the final sector.

The field returned to the pits, where Red Bull worked to fix Verstappen’s car, and McLaren had to retire Norris as a result of the damage sustained his hit from Bottas.

After a near 30-minute delay, Hamilton led Ocon, Vettel, Carlos Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi back to the grid as the top six for a second standing start, where Verstappen would have lined up P13.

But in near-farcical circumstances, Hamilton was the only driver not to come in at the end of the second formation lap – the race’s third lap of 70 – and he took the standing start alone while all the rest came in to swap their inters for medium slick tyres, as the track had dried under sunny skies during the red flag.

Hamilton duly shot down to Turn 1 solo, where Ocon was remarkably led out of the pitlane by George Russell, who had been eighth under the red flag but jumped up the pitlane queue thanks to Williams position at the end of pitlane.

But as Russell came up towards Hamilton as the mediums proved to be much faster than the inters on the rapidly drying track, he was ordered to give back the positions he had gained in the pitlane, which meant Ocon moved into a clear lead when Hamilton stopped for mediums at the end of lap four – the first full racing lap completed in the race.

Over the next five laps, the Alpine driver built up a 1.4-second gap over Vettel, while Latifi held up the pack behind in third, as Verstappen battled Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi on the fringes of the top ten – with Hamilton catching the battle after re-joining in 14th and last after his stop.

Ocon continued to run just ahead of Vettel, with the race lead battle soon becoming a two-driver contest as Latifi continued to fall away.

Back in the pack, Verstappen worked his way ahead of Gasly and then chased Schumacher for 10th place for several laps as his damage meant he could not bring Red Bull’s usual pace advantage to bear, and behind Hamilton was also frustrated by the time it took him to pass Giovinazzi and then Gasly.

On lap 14, Verstappen attacked Schumacher at Turn 1 but had to go wide on the exit, and then the Red Bull went around the outside of the long, downhill left of Turn 2, getting ahead on the exit where the two cars briefly touched as they raced side-on racing towards the fast right of Turn 3.

Five laps later, with Ocon now running just over a second ahead of Vettel up front, Mercedes called Hamilton in from behind Gasly in 11th, switching from the mediums to the hards.

His sensational out lap pace meant he jumped ahead of Verstappen and Ricciardo, who had been running just up the road, when they came in on the next lap to try and cover Hamilton.

Several rivals, including Russell, pitted shortly afterwards, which aided Hamilton’s path up the order, but he continued to lap much faster than the rest – setting a string of fastest laps between the 20th and 30th laps.

Over this part of the race, Ocon came under severe pressure from Vettel before then edging his lead up again, reaching 2.3s by the halfway mark.

With Verstappen stuck behind Ricciardo as they caught the drivers yet to make first green flag stop – including Schumacher again – Hamilton roared clear and passed Latifi shortly after the Williams pitted from third on lap 23.

Hamilton then surged up to Tsunoda, who had undercut past Latifi by stopping a lap earlier, and passed the AlphaTauri around the outside of the fast left of Turn 4 on lap 32.

Once Hamilton was up to fifth, Ferrari then pitted Sainz, who had requested to be left out when Tsunoda and Latifi came in earlier so he could run in clear air, which he used to carve into the large gap behind Vettel.

That ended Hamilton’s charge, just as the focus switched back to the front of the race when Vettel was called in to go from mediums to hards on lap 36.

A 3.3s stop thanks to a slow left rear change meant that when Ocon came in for hards at the end of the next lap, despite Vettel charging on his out lap as he fired the white-walled rubber up to temperature, the Aston could not get alongside the Alpine as it came out of the pits and headed into Turn 1.

Ocon then resumed lapping around a second ahead of Vettel over the next phase of the race, but Sainz and Hamilton – who was soon complaining about the state of his tyres – were soon only six seconds off the lead as they lapped in the low one minute, 21 seconds and the leaders set high one minute, 21 seconds and low one minute, 22 seconds.

Fernando Alonso cycled through to first when the two leaders pitted, but he came in to make the switch to hards at the end of lap 40.

After this, the race settled down for a time as Hamilton was stymied behind Sainz and Ocon remained in control ahead of Vettel – other than a moment at the start of lap 48 where Vettel came close to contact with the Alpine’s rear as Ocon lapped Antonio Giovinazzi at Turn 1.

The lap before this, Mercedes had called Hamilton for a second green flag stop, putting him back onto the mediums and setting up a thrilling charge for the final third of the race, as he had a 22.6 seconds gap to Ocon to close.

The world champion – much like he did here to win against Verstappen in 2019 – set a fierce pace as he re-joined in clear air behind Alonso and seven laps after he came in, he was under ten seconds off the lead and right with the second Alpine.

On the next tour, lap 55, Alonso locked up lapping Kimi Raikkonen at Turn 1, which gave Hamilton the chance to attack around the outside of Turn 2, where Alonso aggressively held the inside line to remain ahead, and also shrugged off Hamilton’s advances at Turn 4 a few moments later.

The battle raged over the next ten laps, with Hamilton attacking in similar circumstances at Turns 2 and 4 on several occasions, frustrated by Alonso’s fierce defence, all the while his former teammate was closing on Sainz and then running in the Ferrari’s dirty air.

On lap 65, though, Alonso’s defence crumbled when he locked his left-front again at Turn 1 and went deep, which allowed Hamilton run alongside on the exit and then blast past using DRS on the run to Turn 2.

Hamilton then immediately caught Sainz, who resisted the Mercedes driver’s first attack, but could not stop Hamilton moving up to third as they raced down the pit straight on lap 67 while lapping Ricciardo.

Alonso’s stout defence meant Hamilton only caught the leaders right at the end, with Ocon ending his race-long charge ahead of Vettel to win by 1.8 seconds, with Hamilton a further 0.8 seconds adrift.

Gasly took sixth behind Sainz and Ocon after being allowed past Tsunoda approaching the final third, with Tsunoda then spinning at Turn 2 late on, which meant he came home well adrift of his teammate.

Latifi and Russell scored Williams’ first points since 2019 with seventh and eighth – the former closing in on Latifi throughout the second stint after being held up by Schumacher after his sole green-flag stop.

Russell also had to resist Verstappen’s attentions at the end as the Red Bull ended up just 1.1 seconds behind in P10, after he had been pitted with 30 laps to run in a successful bid to get ahead of Ricciardo, who had been holding station ahead since their unsuccessful attempt to stop Hamilton’s undercut.

Verstappen passed Ricciardo with a bold move around the outside of Turn 4 with ten laps remaining and set about closing on Russell to the finish.

Raikkonen – who was given a ten seconds time penalty for being released into Nikita Mazepin’s path when the field piled into the pits on the second formation lap, with the ensuing contact breaking the Haas’s right-front suspension and making him the race’s only other retirement in addition to those eliminated as a result of the Turn 1 chaos – also passed Ricciardo late-on to finish P11.

Schumacher came home P13 ahead of Giovinazzi, who was also penalised ten seconds, this for speeding in the pitlane – the Italian’s gamble to stop for slicks on the first formation lap not paying off because of the red flag.

So a crazy race with so many cars wiping out on the opening lap at Turn 1. This gave the opportunity for Alpine to win and Esteban Ocon resisted the pressure from Sebastian Vettel to take his first victory. Fernando Alonso did the perfect job in playing the team game by holding off Lewis Hamilton too.

Hungarian Grand Prix, race results:

1 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 2:04:43.199
2 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes +1.859s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +2.736s
4 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari +15.018s
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault +15.651s
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda +63.614s
7 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda +75.803s
8 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes +77.910s
9 George Russell Williams-Mercedes +79.094s
10 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda +80.244s
11 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
13 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari +1 lap
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari +1 lap
– Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari DNF
– Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes DNF
– Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda DNF
– Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes DNF
– Charles Leclerc Ferrari DNF
– Valtteri Bottas Mercedes DNF