Williams Racing’s George Russell was the star of qualifying for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa Francorchamps circuit as the Englishman, who has been linked with a move to Mercedes for 2022 will start the race on the front row alongside polesitter Max Verstappen. Russell commented saying:

It is an amazing feeling and we definitely did not expect to be starting on the front-row! The team did an incredible job to have me on the track at the right time, on the right tyres, with the right strategy. The driving is one thing, but you need to have everything right around you and often in these moments, that is what it’s all about. I’m so happy for everyone as it’s such a team effort and they did a fantastic job. We obviously had a great result in Hungary, and it feels like our hard work is starting to pay off and people are starting to recognise that.

I knew my last effort was a good lap. It was so tricky out there but because we’re not in Q3 every week, I had the luxury of really being able to put everything on the line and go for it. I had a really good feeling from lap one in FP3 in the wet and when it mattered, we put everything together and that was exceptional. This feeling is exactly what Formula One is all about. Qualifying is over now though and the race is tomorrow, so we need to make sure we have a good one.

Speaking following the action, Verstappen said:

“I am very happy with pole position here at a home Grand Prix, but it was not easy out there. It was very hard to nail a lap, I was just trying to find the right lines at the right times and judging how fast to go into corners after such a long red flag was tricky. It was so important to get the tyres up to temperature because that could give you a few seconds of lap time around a long track like this. Tomorrow we don’t know if it will be a dry or wet start, I think if it’s wet I don’t mind if I start first because at least I should have clear vision but I just hope that we have a good and clean start. I also hope that Lando is feeling okay and that he doesn’t have any serious injuries because that didn’t look like a good impact at all, he’s a good friend of mine so I hope he can race tomorrow.”

Russell set a fastest time of 02.00.086s in a wet qualifying session and starts the event just ahead of Mercedes Lewis Hamilton who spoke after qualifying saying:

It’s been a very difficult day for everyone, just trying to stay positive, focused and calm. Max put in a strong lap so well done to him, and George also did a great job. For me, my first lap was really good, but I lost some tyre temperature on the slow lap in between my runs, so I think there was a little bit left on the table with that final lap. You live and you learn, and I gave it everything I had today. But we’ll look to move forward tomorrow. I’m hoping for better weather and a dry day, that’d be great for the fans and also interesting to see where everyone stands with the wing level. We’ve tried to find the right balance between straight-line speed and downforce. It might not have been the best for today, but we’ll see tomorrow exactly how good it is. Nevertheless, we’ll do everything we can.

Daniel Ricciardo starts his 200th Grand Prix from fourth place on the grid while Sebastian Vettel starts the race from fifth for the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One team. Speaking following the session the German said:

“The most important thing today is that Lando [Norris] is OK after his crash. I stopped to make sure he was because I saw a lot of debris and it is never a nice place to go off. From our side, we can be happy with fifth on the grid tomorrow. I was getting increasingly into the groove with the car and I was happy with my laps – until the final one. I had already put in a good lap time and I wanted to extract more, so I was pushing a little harder, but I went off at Turn Eight and lost some time. I think if we had avoided that, I could have battled with the guys at the front of the field. The forecast suggests that tomorrow will be similar weather, which suits us, so we can fight for a strong result and get some good points for the team.”

Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly starts the race from sixth place and speaking following the action he said:

“It’s been a fun afternoon, I really enjoy driving in these conditions, you don’t know what you’re going to get on track, and you have to try to be at the limit of what the car can do. It’s another great Quali for us, finishing in P6, and I think we’re in a good position for the race tomorrow. It was tricky out there today and I’m glad to see that Lando got out of the car and is ok. I have no idea what the weather will be like tomorrow, it’s been so changeable the whole weekend, so I’ll open the curtains in the morning and see what we get!”

Sergio Perez in the Red Bull starts the race from seventh place and speaking following the session the Mexican said:

“I’m very disappointed with my qualifying as our car was performing well, there was plenty of pace in it and a much better position was possible today. With the changing weather conditions it was tough out there and so the final lap was going to be critical but unfortunately I wasn’t able to improve. It’s a shame but I’m still looking forward to tomorrow as with the weather anything can happen and so there’s plenty of opportunities. The Team is doing a strong job and provided we can stay out of trouble tomorrow then we should be in pretty good shape and able to fight for a strong result. I’m also pleased to see Lando was able to get out of the car after his accident and hope he’s okay. We discussed Eau Rouge in the drivers’ meeting on Friday and raised our concerns so I really hope to see some solutions for next year. It’s something that we definitely have to improve because in conditions like today, if we have a wet race tomorrow, it’s not a place where drivers want to have contact, especially considering it is a blind spot.”

The winner last time out in Hungary, Esteban Ocon starts the race from eighth place just ahead of Lando Norris, who made heavy impact with the tire barriers at Eau Rouge following a huge crash in Q3. McLaren issued a statement this evening to say:

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc rounds out the top ten just ahead of Williams Nicholas Latifi and speaking following the action the Canadian said:

I’m very pleased with my best qualifying result of the season and also my Formula One career. More than anything, I’m happy that I got some more experience in the wet because I haven’t had much of that in our car, so it was nice to get some laps in and really build some confidence in these conditions. We’ve had a great result for the team today, especially in challenging weather, so now we’re aiming to capitalise on that in the race tomorrow.

Carlos Sainz in the second Ferrari starts the race from 12th place just ahead of Valtteri Botta who spoke after qualifying saying:

It was definitely a challenge out there and of course, I hoped for a better result. I think overall the session was okay and there were opportunities to get into the top three, but on the slow lap before my final attempt, I had some traffic coming through. So, I had to back off and lost the tyre temperature. From the very start of the final lap, I was locking the tyres because of the lack of temperature and the car felt on a knife-edge. Obviously with the grid penalty, it means tomorrow won’t be easy, but I’ll be fighting hard. If it is wet, there will be many opportunities, and if it is dry, we have a competitive car. It’ll be a big challenge but as we have seen, anything can happen.

Fernando Alonso starts the race from 14th for the Alpine F1 Team just ahead of Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Antonio Giovinazzi who spoke after the session saying:

“I gave everything I had, but it was not enough. I was improving lap after lap, first on wet tyres and then intermediates, and with one more round we would have been even better, but we ran out of time. In the end, it was the same for everyone and we fell short. The conditions for tomorrow are likely to be similar to today’s, so we need to be ready to take any opportunity, especially if the race turns into chaos. We have to improve on what we did today, that’s for sure.”

Yuki Tsunoda starts the race from 16th place and speaking following the action he said:

“I’ve been aiming to steadily build up my speed and confidence in the car across this weekend and I think I’ve done this well, improving through the practice sessions. However, today the conditions in Qualifying were definitely not easy, especially as I don’t have a lot of experience driving in the wet in a Formula 1 car. I’m disappointed to have not made it through to Q2, as the pace in the car was definitely there, but I just wasn’t fast enough to make it through. I think we need to hope for mixed conditions in the race tomorrow to allow me to move up through the pack.”

The Haas F1 Team’s Mick Schumacher starts the race from 17th just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen who missed FP3 with a technical issue and speaking following the session the Iceman said:

“A bad day that started off this morning, missing out the practice session in the wet. I had to use Q1 to figure out the lines to take and we just didn’t have enough laps to make up the lost ground. I am sure that with a few more laps, we would have been a lot better. Not a lot of positives to take from today, but we can only go up tomorrow: we will try our best and see what we can get out of a race in these conditions.”

Nikita Mazepin starts the race from 19th place while Lance Stroll rounds out the order for Aston Martin and speaking following the session he said:

“It is a difficult qualifying result to take. The car had felt good in the tricky conditions throughout the day, and the end of Q2 was crucial because conditions were improving all the time. We switched to a new set of intermediate tyres to try and capitalise on the situation, but we just ran out of time to begin a flying lap, which meant a lot of drivers around me were able to easily improve their times. We will look into how that happened and learn from it. It means we will start at the back of the field tomorrow [owing to the grid penalty from Hungary], but I still believe we can get a result tomorrow because this is a circuit on which you can overtake, especially if the weather continues to be changeable.”

 

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