F1 Belgian GP: Verstappen pips Piastri to sprint pole in delayed session
Max Verstappen pipped Oscar Piastri to sprint race pole in the shootout qualifying at Formula 1's Belgian Grand Prix by just 0.011s.
The two Ferrari drivers ended up third and fourth with Carlos Sainz ahead, while Charles Leclerc made a small error on his final Q3 lap that proved costly in the fight for pole.
The shortened 12-minute Q1, 10-minute Q2, eight-minute Q3, was delayed by 35 minutes due to heavy rainfall prior to the original start time.
When the drivers did get going they generally ran throughout each segment, other than when some attempted taking fresh tyres and an ambitious early attempt to take slicks at Aston Martin in Q2 that backfired for Lance Stroll.
Blue skies had appeared by the end of Q1, while all the drivers that made it through to Q3 completed that session on slicks.
In Q3, Lewis Hamilton led after the first runs, where some drivers took an alternative approach of putting in an extra preparation lap, which included Sergio Perez.
He therefore headed the times before being shuffled back to eighth, while Hamilton ended up only improving enough for seventh on his second flier after an apparent miscommunication with his team-mate George Russell meant both appeared to get in each other’s way going up the Eau Rouge/Raidillon sequence up to the Les Combes chicane.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Leclerc was well in the hunt for pole as he set the quickest times in sectors one and three on his second Q3 softs flier, but a slip that nearly had him off the road at Turn 9 cost him so much time he ended up unable to beat Sainz’s 1m49.081s.
Both were then beaten by a late stunner from Piastri that featured the best time in the middle sector, before the McLaren driver was beaten by Verstappen.
Although the Dutchman registered no purple sectors on his final lap, he still had enough consistency to post the best time of all at 1m49.056s.
Lando Norris took sixth in the other McLaren ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who also deployed the double warm-up tour approach in Q3.
Esteban Ocon was ninth ahead of Russell, who had also scraped through Q1 and Q2 on the edge of elimination in 15th and 10th in the opening segment.
The Briton’s mistake at La Source on his final Q3 run – he locked up and ran deep – left him running ahead of Hamilton and the rest of incident that appeared to cost the seven-time world champion a better shot on his own last effort.
Before this, Q2 was building towards its conclusion when attention turned to Stroll being the first driver to switch to slicks – the Canadian pitting to change his inters for mediums.
He was 0.8s down on Verstappen’s segment-topping time by the end of the first sector, where most of the track did have a dry line, but when he arrived at the still-wet Turns 8 and 9 it all went wrong.
Despite being very cautious on his approach to Turn 9, Stroll lost the rear of his Aston and slid across the gravel into the barriers, knocking off his right-front wheel.
The red flags then flew and prevented any improvement, which eliminated early Q2 leader Daniel Ricciardo and the Williams pair Alex Albon and Logan Sargeant, who spun coming out of the second part of Stavelot a few minutes before Stroll’s crash, in 11th, 12th and 13th.
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
Neither Williams set a time, with Albon leading them because of his position ahead of Sargeant on what was set to be his sole timed tour, while he was caught out by Stroll’s crash having remained in the garage for most of Q2.
Albon, and Fernando Alonso in the other Aston, were finally on out-laps on their mediums having waited a long time seemingly in an effort to discover if a slicks attempt was possible, when the incident occurred and so they were knocked out too.
Stroll didn't have a time on intermediates, but will start ahead of Alonso because he began his flying lap while his team-mate did not.
In Q1, which Verstappen topped as the times fell over four seconds from Hamilton’s initial 2m02.297s, Yuki Tsunoda set a personal best on his final effort but could not do better than 16th with many others finding time behind the AlphaTauri.
Valtteri Bottas was not one of these as he finished his final flier well ahead of the dash for the flag, with the Alfa Romeo driver heading for the pits as his rivals ended the opening segment and he only registered 17th.
Kevin Magnussen was the lead Haas driver in a very different session for the American team, with the Dane and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg bucking the trend of circulating throughout the 12-minute segment and twice pitting for fresh inters.
This meant neither had a time on the board ahead of the final laps and with Hulkenberg delayed a few seconds leaving the pits for the third time by a jack being left near his car following his second inters change, he ran out of time and did not even get to attempt a flier.
That left Hulkenberg last behind Zhou Guanyu in the other Alfa Romeo, but Magnussen could only manage 18th just ahead of that pair with his sole time lap.
Q1 also featured an incident where Verstappen had to go along away around Hamilton going slower on the racing line being noted for a possible impeding infraction, but the stewards decided no further action was necessary.
F1 Belgian GP: Sprint shootout result
|1||M. Verstappen Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing||1||Red Bull||Red Bull||14||1'49.056||231.205|
|2||O. Piastri Oscar Piastri McLaren||81||McLaren||Mercedes||14||+0.011||0.011||231.182|
|3||C. Sainz Carlos Sainz Ferrari||55||Ferrari||Ferrari||14||+0.025||0.014||231.152|
|4||C. Leclerc Charles Leclerc Ferrari||16||Ferrari||Ferrari||14||+0.195||0.170||230.793|
|5||L. Norris Lando Norris McLaren||4||McLaren||Mercedes||16||+0.333||0.138||230.502|
|6||P. Gasly Pierre Gasly Alpine||10||Alpine||Renault||15||+0.644||0.311||229.848|
|7||L. Hamilton Lewis Hamilton Mercedes||44||Mercedes||Mercedes||16||+0.844||0.200||229.430|
|8||S. Perez Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing||11||Red Bull||Red Bull||14||+0.905||0.061||229.303|
|9||E. Ocon Esteban Ocon Alpine||31||Alpine||Renault||15||+1.438||0.533||228.197|
|10||G. Russell George Russell Mercedes||63||Mercedes||Mercedes||13||+6.686||5.248||217.850|
|View full results|
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