Verstappen and Russell on front row at Spa

Max Verstappen denies George Russell his first pole position at a wet qualifying at Spa

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 28: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2021 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202108280433 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen will start the Belgian Grand Prix from pole position, with George Russell alongside him at the front of the grid after a weather-affected qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps.

A heavy downpour just before the start of qualifying meant the start of the session was delayed. Everyone started Q1 on wet tyres except Williams, with Russell and Nicholas Latifi setting their early times on intermediates.

The rest of the field realised the inters were the quicker of the two wet weather compounds, switching onto the faster tyre late in the session, but Williams had done enough to ensure they progressed.

Russell continued to show good pace in Q2, while Mercedes struggled, trying to book places in the top 10 without using a new set of tyres. It meant Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both needed their final laps in the second session to count, but both managed to find the pace late on.

The same couldn’t be said for Ferrari, as Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc failed to make it into Q3, while Fernando Alonso was unable to match Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon’s pace.

The rain started to fall heavily again going into Q3, with Lando Norris the first car out of the pits. He and Sebastian Vettel complained of too much surface water as the McLaren driver started his flying lap, and the Briton lost grip going through Eau Rouge, sending him hard into the barrier and red flagging the session.

There was a lengthy delay while Norris’s stricken McLaren was cleared and the rain slowed, with the drivers returning to the track on intermediates.

The times dropped as the session progressed, with Hamilton and Verstappen both pushing for pole, but Russell seemed to find the most grip late on, and initially seemed to have done enough to clinch a start at the front of the grid, but the Dutchman just did enough to claim the fastest lap of Q3.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. George Russell (Williams)

3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

4. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)

5. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)

6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)

7. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

8. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)*

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

10. Lando Norris (McLaren)

11. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

12. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

13. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

14. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)

15. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)*

16. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

17. Yuki Tsunoado (AlphaTauri)

18. Mick Schumacher (Haas)

19. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)

*Stroll and Bottas both have 5-place grid penalties due to incidents at the Hungarian Grand Prix

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