Kurt Verlin
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Belgian Grand Prix: Verstappen on Pole, Russell Second

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2021 Belgian GP - Verstappen Congatulates Russell
Photo: Honda Racing
2021 Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying Results

Yes, you read that headline correctly. George Russell finished second during qualifying for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, outpacing the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton in difficult wet conditions. Besides the bottom four drivers and Max Verstappen on pole position, the grid order looks as though someone put all the drivers’ names in a box, shook it around, and drew them in random order. There is simply no way anyone could have predicted the outcome.

With his performance, Russell once again proved why British commentators love to call him “Mr. Saturday.” While at Williams, the man’s never been beaten by a teammate in qualifying. It’s no secret that he is vying for Valtteri Bottas’s seat at Mercedes, and many view this latest achievement as yet another reason team boss Toto Wolff should go ahead with that move.

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Wolff, however, says the young Brit’s qualifying performance “doesn’t make any difference” as he already had the “ultimate proof” of his caliber. “The decision is considering other factors,” Wolff explained, adding that a decision had already been made regarding Russell and Bottas, but declining to say when said decision would be publicized.

Because of the changing conditions, it’s difficult to gauge the extent to which qualifying performance today will translate to race performance tomorrow. Verstappen did well to put his Red Bull Racing-Honda on pole, but the characteristics of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit may suit his rival’s car more than his own.

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Qualifying was also notable for the dramatic crash at the start of Q3. The weather conditions were poor enough that Sebastian Vettel had called for temporarily halting the session and he was sadly vindicated moments later, when Lando Norris lost control on his way up Eau Rouge and experienced a scary crash. Fortunately, he came out of it unscathed, but Vettel was so enthused that he went to have words with race director Michael Masi after getting out of the car.

Daniel Ricciardo is starting fourth in the other McLaren despite having struggled with the car all season long, so should the team get Norris’s car fixed up before the race, we can expect some good overtaking action. And if that doesn’t provide enough entertainment, there’s a good chance for rain tomorrow as well.