Spa-Francorchamps and its mixed weather didn't disappoint yet again, resulting in a very difficult qualifying session for all drivers. After a long stoppage due to a heavy crash by Norris, Verstappen took pole position, topping the surprise of the day, George Russell.
Qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix kicked off 10 minutes late as the FIA were waiting for slightly better weather conditions for the medical helicopter, in case it would be needed.
When it did get underway, it was on a very very wet track, with only both Williams cars going for the intermediates on their first runs. All others went out on track on the full wets.
Russell was the first man out on track and ended up with a 2:11.727. Latifi was next, but he messed up at the Pif-Paf chicane and was 20 seconds off his teammate's effort.
As times came on the board, it was clear the intermediate wasn't too bad a choice at all, seemingly sort of equal with the full wets in these early conditions. About 10 drivers were faster than Russel, but when the Williams driver crossed the line another time, he improved a massive 8s on his previous time, followed by Latifi who got into second place, 3 seconds slower, but still 2s ahead of the fastest full-wet runner, Lando Norris.
Russell's lap was an alert for everyone to quickly change to intermediates and get a better time in before more rain arrived at the track.
When everybody lapped on the same tyres, both Williams were still going strong. It was however Norris who impressed the most by going fastest with a 1:58.776, 4 tenths faster than Hamilton and 8 tenths faster than Verstappen.
Despite the interesting conditions, and tricky moments for both Alpines who ended up 14th and 15th in Q1, the fifth slowest didn't really have any surprises, though interestingly both Williams moved through into Q2 with a 5th and 10th best time for Russell and Latifi respectively.
Improving track conditions for Q2
Q2 saw all drivers out immediately one again as the rain radar reported rain about 5 minutes into the session. Hamilton and Bottas interestingly were called in just before starting their first flying laps with the team suddenly deciding to change to new intermediates, replacing those used in Q1. Everybody else interstingly went out on new inters immediately.
Meanwhile, as the Mercedes geared up for their flying laps, Norris went fastest again, topping Verstappen, Vettel, Gasly, Perez, Leclerc, Russell, Ricciardo, Sainz, Latifi, Ocon and Alonso. Just like in Q1, both Alpines were struggling despite showing strong pace on the dry.
Hamilton and Bottas struggled on and slowed down on the final sector to take their chances on the next lap. Hamilton ended up 10th and Bottas 12th, leaving them struggle to secure a top 10 spot. Hamilton made another stop for new inters and just at the end managed to go second fastest, joined by Bottas in third.
The improving track conditions worked out well for the cars still out on track, with times tumbling further. As Ricciardo and Ocon just managed to get through in 9th and 10th, both Ferraris, Latifi, Alonso and Stroll were out.
Fresh shower complicates Q3
Exactly when Q2 ended, another big splash of rain wetted the track, forcing Q3 to be with full wets. In fact, it was so heavy that Russell and Vettel called for a red flag as they completed their out-laps. But, without action from race control, Lando Norris started his flying lap, and with enormous risk taking and with hardly lifting in Eau Rouge, he ended up losing grip at Raidillon and crashing hard, spinning several times and coming to a halt in the big run-off area on the other side of the track.
When Vettel came by, he stopped and signalled Norris until he got confirmation from the Englishman that he was ok. The German told his team and went on to return to the pits, just like all others as the session was stopped to clear the track.
After a stoppage of nearly three-quarters of an hour, the remaining 9 minutes of Q3 could be completed. Ocon was out first on full wets, but when the others opted for intermediates, he soon returned to the pits to get new intermediates fitted as well.
Hamilton was the first to set a time, ending up 9 tenths quicker than Verstappen and 1.5s ahead of Bottas. Vettel emerged fourth fastest, ahead of Gasly, Perez, Ricciardo and Ocon.
After a slower lap for the main contenders, all was to play for in the dying minute, with Russell steadily going purple in all sectors to go fastest, even leaving Hamilton to bite the dust. Only Verstappen managed to improve on Russell's time, taking pole position with a lap in 1:59.765.
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:58.717||1:56.559||1:59.765||20|
|2||63||George Russell||Williams Mercedes||1:59.864||1:56.950||2:00.086||24|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||2:01.583||1:57.127||2:00.864||22|
|5||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Mercedes||2:00.175||1:56.814||2:00.935||23|
|6||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Honda||2:00.387||1:56.440||2:01.164||23|
|7||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Honda||1:59.334||1:56.886||2:02.112||22|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||2:01.824||1:57.354||2:03.513||23|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:58.301||1:56.025||DNF||19|
|12||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||2:00.966||1:58.056||17|
|14||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||2:01.653||1:58.205||16|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Mercedes||2:01.597||1:58.231||16|
|16||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||2:02.306||9|
|17||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Honda||2:02.413||9|
|18||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||2:03.973||9|
|19||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari||2:04.452||9|
|20||9||Nikita Mazepin||Haas Ferrari||2:04.939||8|