Verstappen and Russel had some serious fight for the pole !
After an eventful race, the Belgian GP 2021 qualifying match has had Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the pole position and Williams’ George Russel at P2 for the main race. This is Russel’s first front-row start in F1. Verstappen and Russel put up an exhilarating fight in the final laps, the former pipping the Williams driver to pole by three-tenths.
Q1: Delayed Start
The Belgian GP 2021 Qualy had a delayed start. It was raining heavily and the wet Eau Rouge circuit was as slippery as it was during the FP sessions. Williams had its drivers out on intermediate tyres. Verstappen was on wet tyres in Q1. Russel emerged the fastest driver in Q1, clocking 2:02.068. The field soon changed from wets to medium rubber. Hamilton, however, was among the last to pit his car for inters. Though Russel had been topping the timesheets in Q1, it was Lando Norris who emerged as the fastest driver towards the end of Q1. 5 drivers went out in Q1.
The 15 drivers chose to go out in Q2, on intermediate tyres. There was a warning towards the start of the session, that rains are expected in five minutes. Norris exhibited his prowess and maintained the lead, despite the downpour and compromised traction. Verstappen and Vettel were both behind Lando. Hamilton and Bottas were both running on used inters and in the bottom five, putting additional pressure on Mercedes. They, however, did improve their rankings by the end of the session.
The drivers started Q3 on fresh intermediate tyres. Hamilton drastically improved his rankings from around 10 to P2 in Q3. Norris had the lead. 5 more drivers went out in Q3. Some time into Q3, the rains were back and the traction depleted further. An alarmed Vettel called for a ‘red flag’, as the track was too wet. Norris was charging on wet tyres, and was doing an excellent job. He reported extensive ‘aquaplaning’ on the track moments before losing control at a corner and being involved in a nasty crash.
The race was soon red-flagged. Q3 resumed 42 minutes past this. Both Red Bulls and Mercedes cars went out on inters. Russel chose to remain with full wets. In what followed, Hamilton and Verstappen fought rigorously for P1, and Bottas remained third.
The drivers then stayed low, had their batteries recharged and prepped for the final lap. In a most shocking climax, Russel drove his Williams to purple in the first and second sectors, chased closely by Verstappen. Hamilton had purple in just the second sector and thus had no luck in being a match.
The final showdown was between Verstappen and Russel, where the Red Bull driver finally usurped the Williams by 0.321 seconds! The grid for tomorrow will have Verstappen at the pole, followed by Russel and Hamilton in the top spots.
Image Source: Formula 1