Verstappen Denies Russell a Breathtaking Pole After Norris’ Crash Drama at Spa F1 Qualifying

Published 08/28/2021, 10:57 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during qualifying REUTERS/Christian Hartmann


After what was a damp FP3 session, it looked like the qualifying F1 session could well take place under wet conditions. And rightfully so, it did, taking the fans down the memory lane to the 2018 Belgian GP qualifying.

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The drivers had to compete under absolutely treacherous conditions, as relentless rain washed away every bit of rubber on the track, with hardly any grip left to drive on.

And in the end, it is Max Verstappen who will be starting on pole, ahead of George Russell. The Briton was on the provisional pole before Verstappen pipped ahead at the very final second. Nevertheless, Mr. Saturday struck again!

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Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during qualifying REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Meanwhile, Lando Norris, who looked like the favorite for pole until the start of Q3, crashed early in the session and will most likely start the race from the pit lane.

His teammate, though, finally managed to cherish a strong qualifying session, as the Australian will start from an impressive P4, ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

Q3 – Fight for F1 pole under full-wet condition

The session started amidst rain pouring down, and Norris, who looked set for a pole, ended up being the first victim of the session. It was Eau Rouge. Does that sound surprising anymore?

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 McLaren’s Lando Norris during qualifying REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Norris pushed his car for a fast lap but ended up shunting his car, leaving it in shreds. The marshals subsequently brought out the red flags. After a 30-minute delay citing heavy rains, the session started off again, with Ocon being the first driver to join the track.

Despite the wet conditions, all 10 drivers opted to run on intermediates. And Hamilton got himself onto the provisional pole, leading Verstappen by almost a second.

However, then arrived stellar laps from the Dutchman and the rumored 2021 Mercedes driver, as the duo ultimately locked out the front row. Behind the duo arrived Hamilton, followed by Ricciardo and Vettel.

Q2 – Misery for Ferrari

Norris started off the proceedings with a 1:57:235 to yet again top the timesheets, followed by Verstappen yet again. Vettel put up an impressive lap to secure P3. However, Mercedes were enduring a terrible session, as neither Hamilton nor Bottas were able to impress.

This consecutively forced the Mercedes duo to opt for a change of tires with 3 minutes left on the clock, hoping for a change of fortune. And it did work, as Hamilton and Bottas flew all the way up to P2 and P3, respectively.

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during qualifying REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Contrastingly, it was a painful session for Ferrari, as neither of the drivers reached the top 10. Leclerc will line up in P10 for Sunday’s race, as opposed to his teammate’s P13. Latifi managed to split the Reds to claim P12, with Alonso and Stroll holding onto P14 and P15.

The latter, however, will start from last on the grid, considering his 5-place grid penalty.

Q1 – Disappointment for AlphaTauri F1 driver

F1 had to delay the session by more than 10 minutes, citing a significant amount of standing water around the circuit. And as the lights went green, the Williams duo were the only drivers who set their lap times on intermediate tires. Unsurprisingly, Russell clinched P1 with a 2:02:0.

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Consequently, the rest of the grid rushed to their respective pit boxes for a switch to inters as well. And after back-to-back runs on high fuel, it was Norris who owned the session by going fastest of all. Verstappen ended up 0.4s behind the Briton.

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – August 28, 2021 Williams’ Nicholas Latifi during qualifying REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

But, as always, the focus was residing on the elimination zone; Giovinazzi failed to make the cut as the Italian will line up P16 on the grid, ahead of Tsunoda, Schumacher, Raikkonen and finally, Mazepin.

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Overall, what a session it turned out to be! Spa is known to add a surprise element to each of the sessions. And it turned out to be the rain gods and Mr. Saturday combined this time. What’s more, Sunday’s main event is likely to take place under similar conditions as well.

So, are we in for an unpredictable Belgian GP?

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Rohit Kumar

1163 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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