Weather: wet 14.4°C
Tarmac: wet 19.5°C
Humidity : 92.1%
Wind : 0.3 m/s SW
Pressure: 970.7 bar
Max Verstappen scored his 9th F1 pole position of his career during the Belgian Grand Prix qualifying session today. The Red Bull Racing driver will start from P1 for the first time on Spa-Francorchamps. It was the 69th pole for Red Bull Racing.
The start of the first qualifying session was delayed by race control, because they wanted to wait out a huge rain shower that passed the track and the weather forecast showed it would dry up quickly. After 12 minutes of waiting the track was given a green light and several drivers were told that it would be dry for 15 minutes.
The only team who went out on intermediate tyres was the Williams team. All other cars were fitted with full wets. Nicholas Latifi spun off in turn 12. Both Williams drivers were flying and George Russell was almost 5 sec. quicker than the cars with the full wets. Russell's time on the intermediates was a 2:02.068 min. Latifi was even second on 0.7s. Lando Norris was 3rd on 4.7s.
With 5 minutes to go it started to rain again and the drivers in the dropzone were: Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), NIkita Mazepin (Haas), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo).
The track was getting quicker by the second and timing was very crucial to get into Q2. The drivers were challenged to the limit with these tricky conditions and had to use all their driving skills to get into Q2. In the end Sainz and Ricciardo improved enough to get out of the elimination zone. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) and Mick Schumacher (Haas), were the victims.
A lot of cars were waiting in the pits to enter the track, before the next rainshower would make the track slower. Both Red Bull's waited a few moments before they left the garage and get a clear track. Both Mercedes drivers did their outlap on old intermediate tyres and boxed for new sets.
Lando Norris was flying with the McLaren in the wet conditions and clocked the fastest lap time for a while with a 1:57.235 min until Verstappen got up to steam and pushed out a 1:56.559 min to be on P1. With 5 minutes to go Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Sainz, Latifi, Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Fernando Alonso (Alpine) all had to improve to get into Q3.
Lewis Hamilton up til then didn't put in a good lap and even was pushed into the drop zone in the final minutes of Q2. The British champion however did what he had to do and became second. Bottas also improved enough to get into Q3 on P3. Ocon also was fast enough and pushed out Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and because Sainz didn't improve enough, both Ferrari's didn't make it to Q3.
Williams driver George Russell made it into Q3 and at the start of the final session the British driver was the first driver who entered the track on full wets, because the track now had lot of standing water due to heavy rain shower. Vettel told his team the track was to wet and asked for a red flag.
The only one who tried to get a lap time was Norris. He told his team he experienced a lot of aquaplaning. When he drove up to Raidillon the rear lost contact with the tarmac and the McLaren crashed hard into the barrier. Norris was unharmed but could not go on because three wheels broke off the McLaren at the impact. The session was stopped to clear the track and get Norris to the hospital.
It took a while before the session was restarted. With 8:55 min to go Ocon was the first to go out on full wet tyres. Both Red Bull's and Mercedes cars were fitted with intermediate tyres. Hamilton's first lap was quickest of all 10 drivers with a 2:01.552 min. Verstappen was second and was 0.973s slower than his rival. Later on Perez was second fastest on 0.5s behind Hamilton.
In the dying moments George Russell showed he deserves the seat next to Hamilton at Mercedes next year, when he put the Williams in front of the Mercedes on P2 for his maiden front row start with Williams. Verstappen however was able to snatch pole away in the very last lap to start from P1 for the first time in his F1 career.
The pole time of last year was a 1:41.252 min driven under dry circumstances by Lewis Hamilton with the W11.
Qualifying Times 2021 Belgian GP
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:58.717||1:56.559||1:59.765||20|
|5||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||2:00.175||1:56.814||2:00.935||23|
|7||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1:59.334||1:56.886||2:02.112||22|
|10||4||Lando Norris||McLaren||1:58.301||1:56.025||no time||19|
|13||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Ferrari||2:01.184||1:58.137||15|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||2:01.597||16|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||2:02.306||9|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo||2:04.452||9|
Note - Valtteri Bottas and Lance Stroll will be penalised five grid places for causing a collision at the previous race in Hungary.
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