The Formula 1 circus returned after a long summer break, and Saturday’s qualifying session at the Spa Francocamps delivered everything. It will be a rain-soaked Belgian Grand Prix with the Red Bull’s Max Verstappen starting at the pole position.
The sky opened about half an hour before qualifying, and left the circuit with plenty of standing water. Q1 was delayed because the safety car made sure the track was dry enough to use.
Williams drivers George Russell and Mac Lawrence Lando Norris were prominent performers of the session before a speeding shunt hit the Q3 after hitting a wet patch that caused their vehicle to go out of control.
An enraged Sebastian Vettel checked up on Norris, who was thankfully conscious despite the massive crash and relatively unharmed, looking all over his car at the scrap yard. Vettel could be heard screaming on the radio that the track was too wet and that Sessions should have hoisted a red flag before hitting Norse’s barriers.
Norris was taken to hospital for a minor elbow injury and further precautionary checks. After clearing all debris, the session resumed with Russell gaining an impressive temporary pole position.
However, title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen were not far behind. Hamilton put in a strong second sector but lost the pole by just 0.013 seconds.
Versatapen then took charge of his last attempt and managed to stay consistent in the second and third laps. He managed to deny Russell the pole position, and Red Bull and Williams will line up together, behind championship leader Hamilton in the front row.
Norris teammate Daniel Ricardo will be satisfied that he finished fourth with the best qualifying performance for McLaren. With so much left on his shoulders, Norris will start coming back from 14th after his accident and 5th place grid penalty.
Austin Martin’s driver Sebastian Vettel finished fifth, and will look forward to another strong final after being disqualified from his second position for the last time. He will start with Pierre Gasley in the sixth.
Voltaire Bottas’ second Mercedes is back in eighth, but behind seventh-ranked Red Bull’s Sergio Perez. Memories of how Botas pulled the Red Bulls and Lando Norris out of the controversy in a major clash in Hungary will surely be on everyone’s mind on Sunday.
More rain is expected on Sunday, and it will likely be a race. Versatapen will be looking to regain the championship lead after losing to Hamilton in the last two races due to an unfortunate clash.