Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took pole position in a dramatic, wet qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix with an outstanding George Russell second.
Verstappen’s lap prevented Russell taking what would have been one of the greatest pole positions in Formula 1 history in the uncompetitive Williams.
Even so, it was a remarkable performance from Russell, who missed out on pole by 0.321 seconds.
Verstappen’s title rival Lewis Hamilton was third fastest in the Mercedes.
And there was a big accident by McLaren’s Lando Norris, who crashed at Eau Rouge in the McLaren in the wettest conditions of the session, bringing out the red flag and leading to a long delay while the rain abated a little.
Norris, who was fastest in the first two sessions, was unharmed but it was an unwelcome blow for someone who appeared to be in the fight for pole position.
What about that from Russell?
The laps by Verstappen and Hamilton were impressive by themselves – the Dutchman was 2.6secs quicker than team-mate Sergio Perez in seventh and Hamilton 2.4secs ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
But they were both put in the shade by Russell, who underlined yet again why he is regarded as one of the superstars of the future and a hot tip to replace Bottas alongside Hamilton at Mercedes next year.
Russell said: “I was in the fortunate position that I had nothing to lose. We just had to go for it. We saved the full maximum engine mode for the last lap, but buzzing, absolutely buzzing. But tomorrow is the important one.”
Hamilton said: “Great job by George. That’s fantastic.”
Pole gives Verstappen a boost as he heads into the race eight points behind Hamilton in the championship, and now has an opportunity to make amends after a difficult two races in Britain and Hungary.
Verstappen said: “It has been a really tricky qualifying. It has ben hard to keep the car on track. And then the long break between Q2 and Q3 it is not easy to settle in again. It is an amazing track to drive but very challenging in the wet.”
More to follow