McLaren’s Lando Norris horrifically crashed out at Radillion in the early stages of Q3 as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen claimed pole position ahead of George Russell, Williams.
As the drivers lined up on the pit lane, after a delayed start due to the rain-soaked circuit, Williams driver, Nicholas Latifi lead the field out onto the Belgian track. The Williams duo of Latifi and George Russell were the only drivers to start the qualifying session on the intermediate tyres while the rest of the grid opted for the full wet tyres.
Latifi found himself on the grass on the exit of turn 12 on his first flying lap, as a result ruined his teammate’s hot lap due to double yellow flags. Verstappen soon topped the timing board but Russell returned to complete a full flying lap to set the fastest lap overall in the early stages of qualifying with a 2:02.068.
After Russell’s time, the wet tyre runners returned to the pits to swap their full wets for inters after securing their banker laps.
Despite Latifi’s earlier trip to the grass, the first qualifying session went on without issue as McLaren’s Lando Norris topped the timing board with 1:58.301, 0.416 seconds faster than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second.
16. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
17. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)
18. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
19. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)
Both Mercedes drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, were the only drivers to venture out onto the circuit with a used set of Intermediates while the rest of the grid went out on new sets of tyres. As a result, the Mercedes pit wall ordered their drivers back into the pits to replace their tyres for fresh sets.
With five minutes left on the clock of Q2, the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, were both stuck at the bottom of the timing board, three seconds slower than Verstappen’s benchmark time: 1:56.559.
Both Mercedes drivers were at risk of being eliminated out of Q2. Hamilton crossed the line on his third set of intermediates and only managed P2, followed by his teammate who sat in third to qualify for Q3. However, both drivers were sat behind Norris who set the fastest time of 1:58.301.
11. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
12. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
13. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
14. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
15. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) – five-place grid penalty (Hungary lap one incident)
Despite the short break between Q2 and Q3, the rain started to fall heavily. As a result Norris was the first guinea pig to head out on track with the full wet tyres. Despite complaints from Sebastian Vettel and Norris regarding standing water and aquaplaning, the red flag was yet to come out.
However, on Norris’ first flying lap the Briton went up to Eau Rogue/Radillion and lost control of his MCL35M. As a result, he ended up in the left-side barrier, spinning around across the track and into the run off on the right side of Radillion.
After a long wait to clear away Norris’ wrecked McLaren and time to allow the weather to change, Q3 finally got back underway as Ocon returned to the track with full wet tyres on.
Hamilton was the first driver to set a timed lap of Q3 as the seven-time world champion set a benchmark time of 2:01.552. But his teammate and Verstappen weren’t able to beat the leading Mercedes’ time.
After a blistering lap, Russell claimed provisional pole but it wasn’t long until Verstappen came in to steal it away from the young Briton. Regardless, the Williams driver will start on the front row tomorrow afternoon.
10. Lando Norris (McLaren)
9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
8. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – five-place grid penalty (Hungary lap one incident)
7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
6. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri)
5. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. George Russell (Williams)
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)