F1: Verstappen masters rain to claim Belgian Grand Prix pole

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS (AFP) – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen mastered the rain to claim Belgian Grand Prix pole on Saturday (Aug 28), snatching the fastest time in qualifying from surprise package George Russell of Williams.

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes will start on the second row as he goes for his 100th Grand Prix win.

Qualifying was marred by a heavy crash in Q3 involving the McLaren of Lando Norris.

The Briton lost control of his McLaren, his car spinning multiple times from one side of the track to the other after the rear end hit the barriers at Eau Rouge.

The only one of his four tyres intact was the front left.

Sebastian Vettel, who had called for the Q3 session to be stopped a little while earlier, drove up in his Aston Martin to make sure the 21-year-old was okay.

The German, a four-time former world champion, only drove on when he got a thumbs up.

Norris’ team came over the radio asking “Lando, are you okay, are you okay?” with the shaken, but seemingly unharmed, driver replying: “Yes, Sorry boys we should have had a good one. I’ve let you down.”

The medics then helped him gingerly out of his cockpit.

The session was red-flagged as stewards hurried to clear the debris from the stricken McLaren off the track. Norris’ mechanics were set for a long night getting it roadworthy in time for Sunday’s race.

A McLaren statement on Twitter reported: “Lando is currently undergoing checks at the trackside medical centre.”

Norris, third in the driver’s championship, had led qualifying through the first two sessions held as the rain beat down on the majestic but notoriously demanding Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes Forest.

He was in a great position to claim his first ever pole and end up at the front of Sunday’s grid, instead he ended up in the medical centre.

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