F1 Belgian GP: Verstappen beats Russell to pole after Norris crash

Max Verstappen beat George Russell to take pole in a wet qualifying for Formula 1’s 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, which was disrupted by a huge Q3 crash for Lando Norris.

F1 Belgian GP: Verstappen beats Russell to pole after Norris crash

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

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 outlap, 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 snap 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 runoff beyond Raidillon.

After Vettel had stopped to check Norris was ok, the Briton 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 outlaps to join the rest of the Q3 runners on the inters.

George Russell, Williams FW43B

George Russell, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Hamilton and Bottas therefore set the first timed laps of Q3, with Hamilton leading after the first Q3 runs had been completed with a 2m01.552s, 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 stunned the drivers trailing in his wake by setting what at the time were the best sectors of Q3 in the opening two thirds of the lap.

Russell shot up to provisional pole, while Hamilton, who was following the Mercedes junior, could not beat his countryman and ended up 0.013s adrift.

But Verstappen still had to complete his lap and his 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 2ms 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 GP.

Ocon took ninth, with Norris classified ninth but possibly facing a grid drop if the 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.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

This put them out of sync with the rest of the pack, meaning they spent most of Q2 at the foot of the times and were sitting down in 11th and 12th 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 11th – 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 12th for Williams – his best F1 qualifying result – after being shuffled back by others also improving late in Q2, but the Canadian did set a personal best on his final lap – as did Fernando Alonso on his way to taking 14th.

Either side of the Alpine driver were Carlos Sainz Jr, 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.

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B

Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW43B

Photo by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

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 GP 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 16th and 17th 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 19th and ahead of Nikita Mazepin at the rear of the field.

Belgian GP qualifying results

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Time Gap
1 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda 1'59.765  
2 United Kingdom George Russell Williams Mercedes 2'00.086 0.321
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 2'00.099 0.334
4 Australia Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes 2'00.864 1.099
5 Germany Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes 2'00.935 1.170
6 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda 2'01.164 1.399
7 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull Honda 2'02.112 2.347
8 France Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 2'03.513 3.748
9 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes    
10 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari Ferrari 1'57.721  
11 Canada Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes 1'58.056  
12 Spain Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari Ferrari 1'58.137  
13 Finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 2'02.502 2.737
14 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault 1'58.205  
15 Italy Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari 2'02.306 2.541
16 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 2'02.413 2.648
17 Germany Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari 2'03.973 4.208
18 Finland Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Ferrari 2'04.452 4.687
19 Russian Federation Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari 2'04.939 5.174
20 Canada Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes 1'58.231  
shares
comments

Related video

Spa F1 qualifying red flagged as Norris escapes Eau Rouge crash

Previous article

Spa F1 qualifying red flagged as Norris escapes Eau Rouge crash

Next article

F1 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying results: Verstappen takes pole at Spa, Russell stars

F1 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying results: Verstappen takes pole at Spa, Russell stars
Load comments
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Plus

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021
Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season? Plus

Who should Alfa Romeo sign for 2022's F1 season?

OPINION: With Valtteri Bottas already signed up for 2022, all eyes are on the race for the second seat at Alfa Romeo next year. Antonio Giovinazzi is the current incumbent, but faces a tough competition from appealing short and long-term prospects

Formula 1
Sep 15, 2021