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

5 thoughts to “Verstappen takes pole position and yet Russell qualifies on the front row with Williams”

  1. Belgian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Max Verstappen pumped in a sensational lap in wet conditions to take pole for the Belgian Grand Prix, usurping George Russell after the Williams delivered the performance of his life to secure a shock front row start.

    It was Russell who looked to have mastered a sodden but drying Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the Williams driver building confidence through the session to set purple sectors across the board to take provisional pole at the flag.

    But title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen were still on laps, with Hamilton going purple in the second sector, but losing a bit of ground in the final sector to miss out by just 0.013s.

    Then attention switched to Verstappen, who went purple in the second sector and then the final sequence of corners to snatch pole for the sixth time this season to the delight of the loyal Dutch contingent who have packed the grandstands all day at Spa in wet and cold conditions.

    Russell held on to second for the second front row start of his career (his first came for Mercedes in Bahrain last year) and the first for Williams since Monza 2017.

    Daniel Ricciardo secured his best qualifying performance since joining McLaren this year with fourth, but there was frustration for team mate Lando Norris, who crashed heavily at Raidillon in Q3, having been quickest in each of the first two segments of qualifying. Norris walked away unscathed.

    Sebastian Vettel was fifth – his best start for Aston Martin, with Pierre Gasly continuing his fine qualifying for this season with his ninth top-six start in 12 Grands Prix this season – as Formula 1 saw six different teams fill out the top six positions.

    Sergio Perez, who was confirmed as a Red Bull driver for 2022 on Friday, was seventh, ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes. Bottas will start 13th, though, after a five-place grid penalty is applied for causing a collision in Hungary.

    Ocon was ninth, as he levelled the head-to-head 6-6 with Alpine team mate Fernando Alonso, with Norris completing the top 10, though it’s likely the McLaren driver will start from the pit lane because of the significant damage incurred in his crash.

    Q1 – Norris leads the way, as Alfa Romeo struggle

    The heavens opened around 30 minutes before qualifying was set to begin, soaking the track and making the work mechanics had done drying the pit boxes with blowers immediately redundant.

    Though the rain intensity eased, the F1 Race Director Michael Masi opted to delay the start of qualifying until conditions improved, with the session finally getting under way 12 minutes behind schedule.

    All cars bar the Williams pair headed out on wet tyres, with George Russell and Nicholas Latifi choosing the intermediates. At first, it seemed too bold a choice as Latifi skated off track into the grass before re-joining, however when the tyres were up to temperature next time around, they went one-two by six seconds with Russell ahead.

    That was the signal that inters were the way to go, with the rest of the field heading in for the green-marked tyres – and as the track continued to dry, the lap times tumbled.

    The Aston Martin duo of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll plus Fernando Alonso, whose Alpine team had a power cut to the pit wall just five minutes before the session meaning they were running blind early on, were in the drop zone with three minutes remaining.

    But all three got themselves out of trouble, though Alonso was on the bubble with team mate Esteban Ocon in 14th and 15th respectively. Antonio Giovinazzi missed out in 16th, as did team mate Kimi Raikkonen (19th) with the latter describing the session as a “disaster”.

    Yuki Tsunoda also had an early bath in 17th, nine places behind AlphaTauri team mate Pierre Gasly, with the Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, who got his long-awaited new chassis this weekend, 18th and 20th.

    Up front, Lando Norris and Max Verstappen enjoyed a battle for top spot. Norris went quickest first, then Verstappen usurped him, then Norris reclaimed, with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton easing into third.

    Knocked out: Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Schumacher, Raikkonen, Mazepin

    Q2 – Verstappen sets pace as Mercedes duo leave it late

    Hamilton had only just headed out on track on used intermediates when his team told him to pit because everyone else had gone for a fresh set. That put him on the backfoot and he ultimately ended up fighting to get out of the drop zone with just two minutes remaining.

    The Briton managed to scrape through, but was forced to use an extra set of fresh tyres to do so. His team mate Bottas also left it late to sneak in. It was far smoother for Norris and Verstappen, who eased through to the final part of qualifying in first and second respectively.

    Vettel left it late to progress, the German benefitting from a huge tow from team mate Lance Stroll on the Kemmel Straight – worth around 0.4s – to catapult into second. Stroll wasn’t so lucky, the Canadian furious on team radio when he was told he missed the cut.

    He was joined by the Ferrari duo of Leclerc – who was vocally unhappy on the radio – and Sainz in 11th and 13th, who were split by Williams’ Latifi, and Alonso.

    Knocked out: Leclerc, Latifi, Sainz, Alonso, Stroll

    Q3 – Russell misses out on fairytale pole as Verstappen snatches top spot

    The rain intensified as the start of Q3 approached, with drivers requiring the full wets before venturing out on a sodden track. The conditions were very tricky, with Vettel saying they were so bad, the session should be red flagged.

    Norris said there was a bit of aquaplaning while on his out lap but pressed on for his first timed lap. However, the McLaren driver lost the car up the hill to Raidillon and crashed heavily into the barriers, bouncing back onto the track and spinning several times.

    Vettel was the first car behind and slowed to a stop to check if Norris was OK. Fortunately, Norris was able to jump out of the car unaided, with the session red-flagged to allow time for the marshals to clear the debris. McLaren later revealed he had been sent to a local hospital after his visit to the trackside medical centre for a precautionary x-ray of his elbow.

    With the rain easing, the session eventually got back under way for the final nine minutes, with intermediates the favoured compound choice. With a minute to go, Hamilton went quickest, ahead of the Red Bull duo of Perez and Verstappen.

    Bottas slotted into fourth, ahead of Vettel and Gasly with Ricciardo, Ocon and Russell completing the top 10. But they all had one more run to go – and it was Russell who was the first to set the timing sheets alight – sailing into provisional pole.

    Hamilton couldn’t beat him and while Verstappen did get ahead, he was the only one who could – meaning Russell – who has long been linked with a seat at Mercedes as a replacement for Bottas next season – held on to a front row grid slot.

    Verstappen meanwhile gave Red Bull their first pole at Spa for 10 years in what is their 50th race with engine supplier Honda.

  2. Williams driver George Russell had “nothing to lose” in Spa qualifying ahead of shock P2. has the full story.

    George Russell was left “buzzing” after a shock charge to second on the grid in Formula 1 qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, narrowly missing out on pole for Williams.

    Russell made it through to Q3 for the third time in four races in the wet conditions, and was forced to pit to switch to intermediates early in the final session after starting on wets.

    But Russell opted to save up his engine power and modes for his final lap in Q3, and lit up the timesheets to take provisional pole by 0.013 seconds from Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

    A fairytale pole was snatched away by Max Verstappen, who finished three-tenths of a second clear for Red Bull, sparking wild celebrations from his army of fans in the Spa grandstands.

    Russell’s lap was nevertheless good enough for second place on the grid, marking Williams’ first front row start since Italy 2017, and matching his best F1 qualifying from his one-off appearance for Mercedes in Sakhir last year.

    “I don’t know what to say to be honest,” Russell said in parc ferme after qualifying.

    “I thought we had done a good job to get out of Q1 [after] how we got on yesterday and now we’re standing here on the front row.

    “I think the guys did an amazing job today. We were on the track always at the right time. The car was feeling great, I had so much confidence so onto tomorrow now.”

    Russell felt he had “nothing to lose” heading into his final lap of the session after already reaching Q3, with Lando Norris’s crash before the red flag meaning he was guaranteed at least ninth.

    “I was in a fortunate position of there’s nothing to lose,” Russell said.

    “We were in Q3 which is not the norm for us, and we just had to go for it. We saved the full maximum engine mode for the last lap, and we just thought, you know what, let’s go for it and I’m buzzing, absolutely buzzing.

    “But obviously tomorrow is the important one and I’ve got to go out there and score some more points.”

    Russell scored his first points for Williams at the last race in Hungary, finishing eighth, and will look to build on the result from the front row tomorrow.

    Asked if he could “have a nibble” at Verstappen and try to take the lead on the run to Les Combes on the opening lap, Russell replied: “That is the plan, if it is there for the taking, we will go for it. So yeah, mega.”

  3. Formula 1 qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix is currently under a red flag after Lando Norris crashed heavily at Eau Rouge in wet conditions, but walked away unassisted.

    Rain had been falling at various periods throughout qualifying at Spa, with wet and intermediate tyres being used throughout Q1 and Q2.

    A downpour began in the break just before Q3 started, prompting McLaren driver Norris to switch to wet tyres as he lined up at the end of the pit lane.

    Norris reported on his out-lap that he was aquaplaning at points due to the wet weather, while Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel called for the session to be red-flagged.

    On his first flying lap, Norris lost control of his car at Eau Rouge and spun into the barrier at high speed, causing three of his four wheels to be damaged in the process.

    The session was swiftly red-flagged, and Norris was able to get out of his car unassisted after it came to rest, reporting over the radio that he was OK.

    Norris apologised to the McLaren team after he had led both Q1 and Q2, saying on the radio: “Sorry boys. We should have had a good one there. I let you down, my bad.”

    Aston Martin driver Vettel pulled his car alongside Norris at Eau Rouge to check that he was OK, raising his thumb from the cockpit.

    But the four-time world champion was left fuming on the radio over the decision to continue with qualifying before the crash.

    “Yep, well, what the f**k did I say?” shouted Vettel. “What did I say! Red flag! It’s unnecessary.”

    The drivers returned to the pitlane after the crash while marshals tended to the barrier and cleared the debris that had been left across the circuit.

    It marked the second major crash of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at Eau Rouge after a six-car shunt caused qualifying in W Series to be red-flagged on Friday. The accident resulted in two drivers being hospitalised, but both has since been discharged.

    The incident led to the debate about the safety of the Eau Rouge/Raidillon complex, which is set to undergo improvements in time for next year’s race at part of Spa’s ongoing development programme.


  4. McLaren’s Lando Norris taken to hospital for checks after Belgian Grand Prix qualifying crash. has the details.

    Lando Norris is to go to hospital for precautionary X-ray checks on his elbow following his high-speed crash in qualifying for Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix.

    The McLaren driver had topped both Q1 and Q2 in the wet conditions that had prompted a late start to Saturday afternoon’s action.

    But as the rain increased at the start of Q3, Norris was caught out by aquaplaning through Eau Rouge as he went for his first flying lap.

    The British driver tried to correct his slide but speared off into the barriers on the left-hand side and impacted the tyre wall with the rear of his car before spinning down the circuit and ending up in the run-off of Raidillon.

    Although able to climb out of the car unaided, Norris was seen holding his left arm and elbow as he was led to the medical car.

    Having been taken to the medical centre, which is a mandatory requirement after such a high-speed impact, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has confirmed that Norris will now be sent for further medical checks on his elbow.

    Although Norris’s car was badly damaged in the accident, the team still has the possibility to build him a fresh chassis for the Belgian GP on Sunday, although that would force a pitlane start.

    Speaking about Norris’ condition, Seidl said he was not too concerned about matters.

    “It’s just a precautionary check,” he told “We think it’s fine. But we need to obviously wait for the analysis.”

    While Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was left angry that the Q3 session had not been red-flagged prior to Norris’ accident, Seidl did not believe a wrong call had been made.

    “I think it would be completely wrong now to point fingers on anyone,” he said. “In the end, it’s difficult conditions. We lost the car, so just have to move on.

    “I think it was obvious that it was tricky to drive. Drivers were reporting aquaplaning, but in the end Lando was in top form.

    “There was a chance to finish quite high up today. He went for it. And sometimes you have to accept it can end up like this. The most important thing is he’s fine. Now we move on.”

  5. McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris has been cleared to race in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix despite his heavy crash in Eau Rouge during qualifying.

    In the final Q3 shootout, which was run in very wet conditions, Norris lost control of his McLaren through Eau Rouge as his car appeared to aquaplane off the track.

    Norris made heavy sideways contact with the tyre wall at the top of the Raidillon, a high-speed impact which destroyed both ends of the cars and sent him spinning back onto the track.

    Norris was soon able to step out of the car under his own power, but appeared to have some discomfort around his elbow, and later went to a nearby hospital to get precautionary X-rays taken.

    Those scans have not brought any injuries to light, with Norris’ team boss Andreas Seidl confirming the Briton will be able to race in tomorrow’s grand prix.

    “The checks were done in the hospital, also on his elbow that was hurting a bit. Everything is good, and he’s good to be back racing tomorrow,” Seidl told the media on Saturday night.

    Given the severity of the damage to Norris’ McLaren, he is likely to require a new chassis and engine, which would force him to start from the pitlane rather than from his 9th position on the grid.

    Seidl explained that McLaren was assessing the level of damage on Norris’ car, and whether the car can be put together in a state that does not require a grid penalty.

    “The assessment of the damage is still ongoing, in terms of what we have to change. and the impact on the starting position tomorrow. That’s still in progress.”

    “The most important thing is Lando is OK, now our focus is on getting the car ready for tomorrow. Knowing that Lando is in top form hopefully we can get back into a position to score points with him.”

    “I didn’t speak with Lando in detail, it’s something we’ll do tonight. I think it was a reasonably heavy impact, but with the safety we have in F1 and the safety the circuit is having luckily he ended up with just bruises or whatever.”

    Norris’ team-mate Daniel Ricciardo qualified fourth for the Belgian GP, and will start alongside Lewis Hamilton on the grid in tomorrow’s race.


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