Red Bull’s Max Verstappen beats Williams’s George Russell to F1 Belgian GP pole with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton third after heavy shunt for Lando Norris.
It was a wet run in the first part of F1 Belgian GP qualifying with everyone on the wet tyres apart from the Williams duo, who had the intermediate compound. Others too switched to the intermediate tyres by the end of the session, which saw lots of improvements.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was fastest in the end with a 1m58.301s, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the Top 3. Despite the wet session, only Williams’ Nicholas Latifi had a spin, while few others had minor offs.
In the knockout zone, while both the Williams made it into Q2, both the Alfa Romeo and Haas cars were knocked out. Antonio Giovinazzi (2m02.306s) was first up in 16th as teammate Kimi Raikkonen (2m04.452s) had a disaster in 19th.
AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda (2m02.413s) was 17th, with Haas’ Mick Schumacher (2m03.973s) in 18th and Nikita Mazepin (2m04.939s) was 20th.
The second part of F1 Belgian GP qualifying saw everyone on a new set of intermediate barring the Mercedes duo. The pitwall were then quick to call them in to switch to a new set, with the team forced to take another set later in the session.
It was McLaren’s Norris in the front again with a 1m56.025s lap, from Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas – having made it through after a late run. It wasn’t happy ending for the Ferrari duo, though, as both the cars were knocked out in Q2.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was 11th with a 1m57.721s lap as teammate Carlos Sainz (1m58.137s) was only 13th. The Spaniard was put under investigation for a moment with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon at the Bus Stop chicane.
Williams’ Nicholas Latifi (1m58.056s) was 12th, with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso (1m58.205s) only 14th from Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll (1m58.231s), who also has a 5-place penalty.
The third part of the F1 Belgian GP was a full wet situation with the conditions pretty bad as it started raining heavily. Both Norris and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel radioed about difficult conditions and didn’t take long for a heavy crash at Eau Rouge.
Norris lost control going through Eau Rouge, on top of the hill, to crash into the left-hand side barrier and bounce towards the right side. Vettel was first to arrive at the scene to check on him, as he was furious on the radio about the late call for red flag.
Norris was taken to the medical center as the rain continued to fall heavily, with the FIA not taking any chances to re-start the session. It started after much delay with the rain steadying a bit – everyone bar the Brit made it out in the session.
Ocon started out with a wet tyre, but switched to intermediate, which everyone was already on. Hamilton set the initial pace with 2m01.552s lap, which was nine tenths quicker than Verstappen, who did not have a sound first pace outing.
Bottas was further behind in third from Vettel and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez only sixth. The second run changed the course with Verstappen beating Williams’ George Russell to take F1 Belgian GP pole with a 1m59.765s lap.
But it was a front-row start for Russell (2m00.086s) in a Williams, with Hamilton (2m00.099s) only third from McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo (2m00.864s) after the Australian improved late on. He pushed Vettel (2m00.935s) to fifth.
Gasly (2m01.164s) ended up in sixth from Perez (2m02.112s), Bottas (2m02.502s) and Ocon (2m03.513s), whereas Norris was 10th with no lap time. The grid penalty for the Finn means, he will drop to start the F1 Belgian GP in 13th.
— #MsportXtra (@MsportXtra) August 28, 2021
UPDATE: McLaren updated on Norris being transferred to hospital for further elbow X0Rays after his heavy shunt at Spa-Francorchamps. In the media session, which was attended by FormulaRapida.net, Andreas Seidl provided further update on the matter.
The scans done at the hospital showed no injuries, which clears him to compete in Belgian GP. In fact, the FIA medical delegate also cleared him to take part. “The checks were done in the hospital, also on his elbow that was hurting a bit,’ said Seidl. “Everything is good, and he’s good to be back racing tomorrow.”
An update from McLaren then noted: “Following precautionary checks after an accident during qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix, Lando Norris has been cleared to compete in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix by the trackside doctor and FIA medical delegate.”
While Norris has been cleared to compete, his car will require a good repair job, considering the damage he suffered. When asked about it, Seidl noted about it being too early to understand the extent, as the mechanics will work through to make the required changes.
“The assessment of the damage is still ongoing, the assessment also of the consequences, and what that means in terms of what we have to change, is still work in progress,” noted Seidl.
The FIA also noted of no further action in the impeding incident between Sainz and Ocon. The incident took place at Turn 17, when the latter was catching the former. The gap closed between the two on the approach of Turn 18, when the Spaniard started to brake.
The stewards found it was consistent with the rules regarding preparation for an out lap and so, no action is required. “When car 31 was at Turn 17 it was 1.7 seconds behind car 55, the former being on a push lap and the latter being on an out lap,” the note stated.
“This gap closed to 1.3 seconds on approach to Turn 18 at the point where car 55 commenced braking. This braking point was consistent with the preparation for an out lap, which is earlier than for a push lap. The Stewards do not consider that car 55 unnecessarily impeded car 31.”