A remainder of how they start:
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 (Alpha Tauri)
OUT. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
8. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
9. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
10. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
11. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
12. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
13. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes – five-place grid penalty)
14. Lando Norris (McLaren – five-place grid penalty)
15. Antonio Giovianzzi (Alfa Romeo)
16. Yuki Tsunoda (Alpha Tauri)
17. Mick Schumacher (Haas)
19. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)
20. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin – five-place grid penalty, qualified 15th).
Pit lane start – Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo, qualified 18th
In Spa the sky is grey, the ground is wet and it’s umbrellas wherever you look. Hamilton has already reported via the team radio that “there’s no grip out here” and Russell said “visibility is very poor”. We’ll likely see a safety car start. But should they even be racing in these conditions…?
Here’s Williams principal Jost Capito: “I just told him [Russell] to enjoy every single lap he can. It’s important to react quickly. The whole grid could be upside down before the end of the race. With these conditions it’s so unpredictable.”
Sergio Perez crashes out on the way to the grid!
Oh dear. It’s tipping it down in Spa and the wet conditions have claimed their first victim before the race has even started. On the lap to the grid, Perez slides around Les Combes and ploughs into the barriers. His team report suspension damage – too much of it to repair in time for lights out: “That’s us done. Kill the engine.”
George Russell gatecrashed the party yesterday. The simmering rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen was rendered secondary in the Belgian GP qualifying session by the Williams driver who steamed into the front row ahead of his countryman – and came close to securing pole but for an almighty lap from Verstappen, completed in a near-perfect 1:59.765s.
The conditions in Spa were treacherous to say the least, with torrential rain throughout and Lando Norris suffering a huge accident at the high-speed Eau Rouge corner. Crucially, the wet weather that clearly favoured Russell’s Williams has also been forecast for this afternoon.
Hamilton, a three-time winner of the Belgian GP, holds an eight-point advantage over Verstappen heading into today’s race but has Hamilton has described the current campaign as the most tightly contested since 2016. He returns from F1’s summer break after pulling off a remarkable turnaround in Hungary, dropping to last place to finish third before being promoted to second.
Verstappen finished a lowly ninth on that day after collision with Norris compromised his race and, on the evidence of yesterday, appears on a mission to banish that memory as soon as possible. Whether he succeeds in doing so could, to an extent, be in the hands of the gods: today’s conditions may well dictate the race. “There are always things to fine-tune,” he said yesterday, “in the wet it’s never easy, it’s always moving around.”
One thing is certain: yesterday’s display has given Russell the confidence that he can spring a surprise. Asked about overtaking Verstappen on lap one, his response was hardly cryptic: “That’s the plan”