Belgian Grand Prix – Max Verstappen will start the Sprint from P1 after denying Oscar Piastri by just over a hundredth of a second.
There had been heavy rain during the morning but it had stopped and was starting to drain and dry as the Shootout was set to start. Like qualifying yesterday though the start was delayed with things getting underway 35 minutes after initially scheduled.
As there is a mandatory 4.5 hour break between the Shootout and the Sprint, that means that the Sprint will now start at 4:05pm rather than the 3:30pm it should have been.
With eight minutes until the Green Light the Mercedes and Alfa Romeos started queuing at the end of the pit lane, as they did yesterday. The Haases, McLarens and Ferraris all joined them closer to go time, all on the intermediate tyre.
Birthday boy Fernando Alonso was the last to emerge from the pits, the Spaniard heading out as the clock ticked down to eight minutes. Lewis Hamilton set the first time, a 2:02.297. With four minutes to go Carlos Sainz brought the times down below two minutes with a 1:59.981 ahead of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
The Haas cars both pitted in the final three minutes for new intermediates, and it’d be quite close for them to get around to set a time, Kevin Magnussen did get around in time to set a lap but Nico Hulkenberg was delayed by a front jack breaking and didn’t make it around before the chequered flag. They were joined with Lando Norris, Lance Stroll, Logan Sargeant in the drop zone while the Red Bulls held the top of the charts ahead of Hamilton.
In the end Verstappen brough the times down to a 1:58.135, eight tenths quicker than Hamilton while neither of the Haas or Alfa Romeos made it out of the bottom five, they were joined by Yuki Tsunoda while George Russell just scraped through in P15.
Last year’s teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were the first two to head out in Q2 still on intermediate tyres. The others started to trickle out after them, while the AlphaTauri driver started off with a 1:57.687.
There was a Yellow Flag for Sargeant after he spun just after T15 but he was able to get going again without disrupting anyone.
With four minutes neither Alonso nor Alex Albon had headed out but the Spaniard’s teammate, who had been circulating on inters, was the first to make the switch to slicks when he put the mediums on. On his lap, the Canadian reported back that it seemed to early and he was proved right as he got out of shape and went into the barrier at T9 bringing out the Red Flag with half a second on the clock.
There wasn’t enough time for the session to be restarted so Stroll’s crash meant that neither of the Williams or Aston Martin cars were able to set a time so they, along with Ricciardo, were eliminated.
Verstappen topped the times with 1:55.200, six tenths ahead of Hamilton and Sergio Perez.
There was no movement on track for the first minute of Q3, Leclerc was the first to head out and the others followed his lead, with all cars having chosen soft slicks.
The Monegasque driver set a 1:52.525, and after everyone’s first effort it was Hamilton on provisional P1 with a 1:51.198, Verstappen going less than a tenth slower while Norris sat in P3, three tenths further back.
While most went onto a slow lap then, Perez continued to push and jumped to the top with a 1:50.303 with less than thirty seconds to go. Times continued to tumble, Gasly getting into the 1:49s but everyone improved and in the end.
Leclerc had a slide on his lap which lost him time, leaving him in P4, but it was very close at the top. Piastri so nearly got the P1 with his 1:49.067 but Verstappen stopped those dreams by going 0.011 seconds quicker with a 1:49.056.
Sainz took P3, 0.025 seconds slower than Verstappen while Norris slotted into P5. Gasly took P6 ahead of Hamilton after the seven-time champion’s lap got impeded by his teammate. Perez was P8 ahead of Ocon while Russell didn’t get a final time in.