George Russell bags second in a wet qualifying session at the 2021 Belgian GP
The qualifying round at the 2021 Belgian GP came to an end with Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing) at P1, George Russell (Williams Racing) at P2 followed by Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-AMG F1) at P3. The conditions on the circuit were deteriorating due to the rain which became heavier as the session progressed. The session was red flagged after Lando Norris crashed at Eau Rouge due to the tricky wet conditions. But on the other hand, the constant changing conditions did result in some experimental strategies, unexpected results and on the edge driving. So let us take a look at the qualifying round of the 2021 Belgian GP and see how it unfolded.
Qualifying Round 1
Q1 was delayed after drops of rain started falling on the track and the conditions had to be checked by the FIA stewards. With the green signal from them, all drivers went out in the Wet tyres except for the Williams boys. As things turned out, Williams were the ones who judged the conditions correctly by going on the Intermediate tyres. Watching the Williams go faster than anyone on the grid, the rest of the cars dove into the pits and changed into the Intermediate tyres. Chats from multiple teams expressed that the rain was about to get worse. Lando Norris finished the session in P1 and looked to be in tune with the conditions of the track and the setup of the car.
Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo Racing), Yuki Tsunoda (Scuderia AlphaTauri), Mick Schumacher (Haas F1 Team), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo Racing) and Nikita Mazepin (Haas F1 Team) were eliminated at the end of Q1.
Qualifying Round 2
Track evolution started to come into play during this session as the racing line on the track gradually dried up. But the threat of rain was still looming on the grid. All the drivers attacked the track on the intermediate tyres, and it seemed to be the right choice for the conditions. Lando Norris was yet again the fastest man on the grid but at the same time both the Ferrari cars were shown the door as they failed to set a competitive time in the changing conditions. George Russell found himself in another Q3 appearance after nabbing P5 in the session. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon are under investigation which will be looked into after the session.
Charles Leclerc (Scuderia Ferrari), Nicholas Latifi (Williams Racing), Carlos Sainz (Scuderia Ferrari), Fernando Alonso (Alpine F1 Team) and Lance Stroll (Aston Martin F1) were eliminated at the end of Q2.
Qualifying Round 3
Rain started to pour heavily at the start of the session. Most of the drivers were sitting in the pits while a brave few went out on the track to assess the conditions. Just as Lando Norris was making his way up to Eau Rouge, his McLaren’s front right tyre aquaplane on the curb and ended up hitting the barriers at high speed. Thankfully he was safe, but his car was completely wrecked and the incident brought out the red flag. After all the debris was cleared from the track, the session was resumed with seven minutes on the clock. By this time, the rain had stopped and all the drivers dared to go out on the intermediate tyres yet again. George Russell became the highlight of the session when he took provisional pole for the session only to be dethroned by Max Verstappen with a 1:59.765 sec in the final few seconds. This was an amazing performance by the young Brit on his 50th Grand Prix appearance and also gave Williams their front row start since the 2017 Italian GP.
The result of the Q3 session are as follows:
Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing)
George Russell (William Racing)
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-AMG F1)
Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren Racing)
Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin F1)
Pierre Gasly (Scuderia AlphaTauri)
Sergio Perez (Red Bull Racing)
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes-AMG F1)
Esteban Ocon (Alpine F1 Team)
Lando Norris (McLaren Racing)