Belgian Grand Prix LIVE: Sergio Perez OUT before race begins with warm-up crash at Spa

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Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton will duke it out for Belgian Grand Prix victory today as the pair’s championship battle continues at Spa-Francochamps. The pair start first and third respectively and go head-to-head again in what is proving a titanic tussle for the title.

Verstappen is looking to win the Drivers’ Championship for a first time and to dethrone Hamilton, a seven-time world champion eyeing a record-breaking eighth triumph.

It’s the Dutchman who starts from the front today but rainy conditions means it is tough to predict how this afternoon’s race will pan out.

Esteban Ocon was the surprise race victor in Hungary last time out with Hamilton finishing second and Verstappen down in ninth following a chaotic start.

But Verstappen will be eager to get back to winning ways as he seeks to get back in front of his title rival, and he went much faster on his final lap in qualifying.

Express Sport provides live updates of the race below.

Belgian Grand Prix LIVE

– Max Verstappen starts on pole for Red Bull seeking first ever Spa win
– Verstappen hoping to narrow the gap to Lewis Hamilton in the championship
– Dutchman is Red Bull’s only hope in race after Sergio Perez’s crash in warm-up lap
– Hamilton eight points clear in Drivers’ Championship after 11 races
– Williams’ George Russell starts second with Hamilton third for Mercedes
– Lando Norris’ five-place penalty for a gearbox change means he starts 14th

1.30pm: Intermittent showers are forecast for today with the weather set to make today’s race a hectic few hours.

And Sky Sports F1 expert Martin Brundle is relishing the potential battle between Verstappen and Hamilton in the wet.

He said: “I think we’re looking at two of the greatest wet-weather drivers I’ve ever seen or commentated on in Formula One in Verstappen and Hamilton.

“There’s nothing between them, there’s nothing really between their cars. They do have slightly different downforce levels.

“I do think Russell will struggle to be really in that fight, so I’m expecting a pretty good head to head between Hamilton and Verstappen.”

F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix

1.25pm: Disaster for Sergio Perez!

He’s put hit Red Bull into the wall in a warm-up lap.

The Red Bull man lost control and with the wet conditions there was no way he was going to stop before he careered into the tyre wall.

Is Perez’s race over before it even begins?

1.20pm: The pit lane is open and the drivers have wasted no time in heading out to acclimatise to the conditions at Spa.

To sum up the weather, it’s rather wet.

And if the conditions are as changeable as they were in qualifying on Saturday, we’re in for an unpredictable race.

1.15pm: Lando Norris suffered a huge 185mph crash in qualifying yesterday for McLaren at Eau Rouge but the Briton has been given the all clear to go racing today after a visit to hospital for X-rays.

McLaren posted: “Following precautionary checks after an accident during qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix, Lando Norris has been cleared to compete in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix by the trackside doctor and FIA medical delegate.”

The wet conditions made it tricky for Norris and his fellow drivers in Q1, Q2 and Q3 but thankfully the McLaren driver avoided injury after his high-speed shunt.

Norris had gone fastest in the first two of three sessions in qualifying and would have been in the equation if not for his collision.

He said after: “Sorry boys, we should have had a good one there. I let you down. My bad.”

Norris will start 14th after a grid penalty for a gearbox change.

1pm: Hello and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen starts on pole today for Red Bull and the Dutchman is looking for a victory to bridge the gap to title rival Lewis Hamilton in the driver’s standings.

A huge points swing prior to the summer break means Hamilton goes into today’s race eight points clear at the summit.

The Briton starts third with Williams’ George Russell, potentially Hamilton’s new team-mate next season, ahead of him in second.

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