The classification of the Belgian GP, this Saturday afternoon (28) in Spa-Francorchamps, had a big scare due to the serious accident suffered by Lando Norris, but also had a pleasant surprise with the spectacular performance of George Russell. The Williams driver came very close to taking pole-position, but was overtaken on the final lap by Max Verstappen, who will start ahead in the 12th stage of the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Verstappen scored 1min59s765 at the end of the qualifying at Spa. Earlier, Russell surprised the Formula 1 world with a great lap on intermediate tires and scored provisional pole, with a time that was not even surpassed by Lewis Hamilton, who will start in third place. But Verstappen put Red Bull in the position of honor with a time 0s321 faster than the British prodigy.
But another prodigy, Lando Norris, emerged with great chances to take pole position if it weren’t for the serious accident he suffered at the start of Q3. The McLaren driver topped Q1 and Q2 and missed out on another notable result this season.
Daniel Ricciardo, in his best classification with McLaren, will start fourth, while Sebastian Vettel will share the third row of the grid with Pierre Gasly. Sergio Pérez will start seventh and will be joined by Esteban Ocon at his side, as Valtteri Bottas, who finished eighth in Q3, will pay a penalty of 5 grid positions for the incident at the start in Hungary, and it will only come out in 13th. Norris then starts ninth with Charles Leclerc completing the top-10.
+Norris suffers severe accident on Eau Rouge’s rise in the Belgian GP standings
The Belgian GP is scheduled for 10 am (GMT-3) this Sunday, with transmission LIVE and in REAL TIME at the BIG PRIZE. One hour before, the Briefing, shows live on GP TV, the GRAND PRIZE channel on YouTube, it brings the pre-race with the latest information straight from Spa-Francorchamps.
Find out how the Belgian F1 GP classification went
As it was since the beginning of the day, Saturday at Spa-Francorchamps had a lot of rain, and it was no different for the Formula 1 classification. The conditions before the opening of the pit-lane made the race directors send Bernd Mayländer to the track, aboard the safety-car, to check the conditions of the asphalt.
There was no alternative but to postpone the start of qualifying in Belgium. There were no conditions due not only to heavy rain but also to fog around the circuit. Room temperature was 14°C.
After new evaluations about the conditions of the track, the race direction determined a new time for the beginning of the classification: 10:12 (GMT).
Q1: Norris flies and Williams walks well in the wet at Spa
A long line of cars formed at the exit of the pit-lane for the opening of Q1 at Spa-Francorchamps. The vast majority left the pits with extreme rain tires (identified by the blue color), but George Russell and Nicholas Latifi opted for intermediate compounds.
Latifi managed to escape and run, but track conditions already gave the indication that the intermediate tires delivered more performance.
The first times were around 2min10s, well above the 1min56s9 that Max Verstappen recorded in free practice 3. But the marks started to fall as the cars passed on the track. That’s where the intermediate tires paid off. Russell scored 2min02s068 and provisionally took the lead, with Latifi completing Williams’ 1-2. As a result, the other teams also decided to use green belt tires.
Russell’s lead lasted up to 5 minutes to the end of Q1. First it was Carlos Sainz to improve and take the lead. Afterwards, the Spaniard was overtaken by ‘Czech’ Pérez and Daniel Ricciardo, with everyone turning in 2min01. Then the Williams driver made another big lap to retake the lead with 2min00s035. But Max Verstappen broke the 2min barrier and Lando Norris left the Dutchman behind by turning 1min58s776, a great lap. Lewis Hamilton appeared in fourth place.
Verstappen took the lead from Norris after a 1min58s717 spike, but Lando immediately responded with another great time: 1min58s301. Hamilton was third in Q1, followed by Pérez and Russell, who put Williams ahead of Bottas. Sebastian Vettel was seventh, while Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Latifi closed the top ten list. 12th, Daniel Ricciardo took no less than 3s282 from his teammate.
Antonio Giovinazzi, Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Kimi Räikkönen and Nikita Mazepin were eliminated. The Finnish veteran didn’t hide his irritation at finding himself out of the qualifying sequence: “It’s a fucking disaster,” he shouted.
Q2: Norris shines again, Ferrari duo out
In great shape, Norris took the lead in the second stage of the classification early on, scoring 1min57s235. With remarkable driving, the prodigy was the big star of the classification. Verstappen had a good lap, but not enough to overcome the Brit and appeared second on the timesheet, 0s136 behind, while Vettel was third with 6min30s left in Q2.
Lando improved even further by hitting 1min57s041, while the Mercedes duo only momentarily managed to place themselves in the top ten: Hamilton was only eighth, two places ahead of Bottas after Ricciardo also made a nice comeback to finish fifth.
But Verstappen showed that it could not be ruled out. The Dutchman scored 1min56s559 and overcame Norris by 0s482. At that time, Hamilton had dropped to tenth, while Bottas was only 12th. Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso were also in the elimination zone.
Asphalt conditions were getting better in the final minutes of Q2. Vettel, historically a great performer in the rain, moved up to second with 1min56s814. But the four-time champion’s position didn’t last long. Norris made another spectacular lap to turn 1min56s025. Hamilton secured himself for Q3 with the second fastest time, while Bottas escaped elimination to take third. Gasly also did well, in fourth, while Verstappen came in fifth.
Vettel, Pérez, Russell, Ricciardo and Ocon also followed for the Q3. Ferrari already suffered the elimination with its two drivers: Leclerc was out, with 11th time in Q2, while Carlos Sainz was only 13th. Latifi, who made a great performance, was unable to place himself in the top ten, but managed his best grid in F1 in 12th. Alonso and Stroll also said goodbye to the session.
Q3: Russell almost scores pole on Saturday’s Verstappen party
The classification in Spa had an unpredictable outcome ahead, mainly because the rain was brutally heavy. Via radio, Vettel warned that conditions were critical and that the ideal, at that moment, was to stop training with a red flag. Recklessly, the race direction chose to go ahead with Q3.
When he was in a fast lap, Norris escaped by going around the Eau Rouge corner and hit the protective barriers very hard. It was only then that the test direction raised the red flag. Worried about his co-worker’s condition, Vettel stopped the car next to the destroyed McLaren and didn’t move on until he was sure Lando was okay.
In reassuring McLaren about his condition, Norris lamented the accident. “Sorry, guys. I disappointed you. It went badly”. That’s how the one who surprised to emerge as a great candidate for pole in Spa left the scene.
In addition to the stoppage so that track inspectors could make repairs to the protection barriers, a real storm collapsed in Spa, which further postponed the resumption of classification. The timer was locked at 8min59s.
After 30 minutes of long wait, the race direction confirmed the resumption of classification for 11:45 am (Brasilia time), or 4:45 pm local time. Drivers and teams had three extra minutes before returning to the track. Ocon was the first driver to line up at the exit of the pit-lane. The Frenchman went out on the track with extreme rain tyres, but Verstappen, Pérez, Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel opted for intermediates. Afterwards, Ocon returned to the pits to switch to intermediates.
In the first quick lap, Hamilton turned 2min01s552, while Bottas scored 2min03s093. Verstappen did well in the first sector, but lost time following the lap and placed second, 0s973 slower than Hamilton. Vettel was fourth, Gasly fifth and Pérez sixth.
There was still time for at least one more try for whoever was on the track. The decision was made in the final minute.
Pérez jumped into second by making time 0s560 slower than Hamilton, leaving Verstappen behind. But it was Russell who had the best time in the first sector, bringing huge expectations to the sequence of his return. George spiked 2min00s086 and confirmed the provisional pole. Hamilton passed just 0.013 behind his fellow countryman.
Only Max Verstappen remained. With a 0s321 fastest time, the Dutchman overtook Russell and confirmed pole in an unlikely classification at the Belgian GP. A tense but surprising and memorable Saturday for F1.
F1 2021, Belgian GP, Spa-Francorchamps, Start grid:
|1||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||1:59,765|
|two||G RUSSELL||Williams Mercedes||2:00.086||+0.321|
|4||D RICCIARDO||McLaren Mercedes||2:00 864||+1,099|
|5||S VETTEL||Aston Martin Mercedes||2:0935||+1,170|
|6||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||2:01.164||+1,399|
|7||S PEREZ||Red Bull Honda||2:02.112||+2,347|
|11||NO LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||1:58,056|
|15||THE GIOVINAZZI||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||2:02.306|
|16||Y TSUNODA||AlphaTauri Honda||2:02.413|
|17||M SCHUMACHER||Haas Ferrari||2:03,973|
|18||K RÄIKKÖNEN||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||2:04.452|
|19||N MAZEPIN||Haas Ferrari||2:04,939|
|20||L STROLL||Aston Martin Mercedes||P+5||1:58,231|