Russell pipped to pole by Verstappen at Belgian Grand Prix after Norris suffers Spa crash

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Verstappen
leads
final
practice
for
Belgian
GP,
Hamilton
3rd

A
stunning
final
lap
from
Russell
looked
set
to
give
the
Williams
driver
a
first
career
pole,
but
Formula
One
title
hopeful
Verstappen
pipped
him
in
the
closing
seconds.

British
23-year-old
Russell,
who
has
been
tipped
for
a
move
to
join
Lewis
Hamilton
at
Mercedes
next
season,
said
he
was
“absolutely
buzzing”
about
his
performance,
defying
the
limitations
of
his
car
with
a
supreme
drive.

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Hamilton
took
third
on
the
grid
and
saluted
Russell’s
performance,
with
Daniel
Ricciardo
fourth.

The
qualifying
session
was
disrupted
by
heavy
rain
and
a
heavy
crash
for
Lando
Norris

Ricciardo’s
McLaren
team-mate

which
caused
a
hold-up
in
Q3
of
close
to
45
minutes.

Moments
before
smashing
into
the
barriers,
Norris
complained
about
the
conditions,
and
Sebastian
Vettel
had
called
for
the
session
to
be
red-flagged
before
the
crash
made
it
an
inevitability.
Norris
was
taken
to
hospital
for
a
precautionary
elbow
X-ray.

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The
drivers
returned
to
the
wet
track
eventually,
with
Hamilton
quick
to
point
out
that
spray
remained
a
problem.
He
set
an
early
target
of
2:01.552
but
Russell
producing
a
stunning
lap
to
go
quicker.

Verstappen
and
Hamilton
were
both
out
on
the
track
and
chasing
the
new
target
as
the
clock
ran
down,
with
only
the
former
able
to
achieve
that.

After
three
weeks
since
the
last
race,
the
Hungarian
Grand
Prix,
this
was
a
return
to
the
thrills
and
spills
of
the
sport.

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“I’m
super
happy
to
have
a
qualifying
like
this
after
the
break
and
to
have
a
pole
position
again,”
said
Verstappen.

Russell
has
been
on
the
front
row
once
before,
but
that
came
in
a
Mercedes
when
he
stood
in
for
Hamilton
last
season
at
the
Sakhir
Grand
Prix.
He
said
getting
out
of
Q1,
the
initial
stage
of
the
qualifying
session,
had
been
his
primary
target
at
Spa,
with
anything
else
a
bonus.

“The
car
was
feeling
great
and
I
had
so
much
confidence,”
Russell
said.
“I
was
in
a
fortunate
position
where
I
had
nothing
to
lose.
We
were
in
Q3
which
is
not
the
norm
for
us
and
we
just
had
to
go
for
it.

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“I’m
buzzing,
absolutely
buzzing.
Tomorrow’s
the
important
one
but
it’s
been
mega
today.
I’m
delighted
for
everyone.
If
the
weather
is
the
same
and
it’s
there
for
the
taking
tomorrow,
we’ll
go
for
it.”

Hamilton,
who
edged
ahead
of
Verstappen
in
the
drivers’ standings
by
finishing
second
in
Hungary,
said
it
had
been
“a
very
difficult
day
for
everyone”
due
to
the
inclement
weather.

“Well
done
to
Max
and
to
George,”
Hamilton
added.
“If
it’s
like
this
tomorrow
it’s
going
to
be
tricky
to
balance
straight
line
speed
and
downforce.”

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PROVISIONAL
CLASSIFICATION

1.
Max
Verstappen
(Red
Bull)
1:59.765
2.
George
Russell
(Williams)
+0.321secs
3.
Lewis
Hamilton
(Mercedes)
+0.334
4.
Daniel
Ricciardo
(McLaren)
+1.099
5.
Sebastian
Vettel
(Aston
Martin)
+1.170
6.
Pierre
Gasly
(AlphaTauri)
+1.399
7.
Sergio
Perez
(Red
Bull)
+2.347
8.
Valtteri
Bottas
(Mercedes)
+2.737
9.
Esteban
Ocon
(Alpine)
+3.748
10.
Lando
Norris
(McLaren)
no
complete
lap
in
Q3

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