Belgian Grand Prix: Max Verstappen seals pole in testing Spa-Francorchamps conditions

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Mixed conditions at the Belgian Grand Prix provided a dramatic qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, one that saw Max Verstappen emerge fastest to seal pole for tomorrow's race.

Always a thrilling event even in the dry, the wet conditions made for a fascinating session as drivers sought grip and balance around one of the most testing circuits on the calendar.

Here's how it all played out...

Q1

All but the Williams boys headed out onto the wet Spa-Francorchamps circuit decked with full-wet tyres, with the men from Grove taking a punt on the intermediate option.

Indeed, they were quickly vindicated in setting the early pace, prompting a mad dash in the pitlane midway through Q1 that saw the rest of the field switching to the green-walled rubber.

The closing minutes were suitably frantic as drivers scrambled to make Q2, then, with the track getting quicker and quicker as the clock ticked down.

In the end, there were few surprises in the eliminations, with Antonio Giovinazzi, Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Nikita Mazepin knocked out.

Q2

Again the inters were the tyres to be on for this session and whilst most of the front-runners made short work of reaching Q3, Mercedes of all teams had serious struggles.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas faced elimination in the final seconds having failed to set a quick enough time but, in the dying moments, they saved their skins on the quickening tarmac, leaving both Ferraris to take the label of 'surprise of the session' - and not for the right reasons.

Charles Leclerc, Nicholas Latifi, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll would play no further part here. 

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Q3

The rain returned for the final part of qualifying and, with drivers expressing their concerns over the level of standing water increasing around the track, we soon had a red flag to back that up.

Thankfully, Lando Norris was the man to walk away from his wrecked McLaren, with him going into the wall at Eau Rouge and ripping his tyres from the car.

A nasty shunt, and one that delayed the already-running-late session for a considerable amount of time, with the rain only getting heavier. 

Once we got going once more, it was Max Verstappen who stole pole but George Russell who took the headlines, recording a stunning P2 in his Williams ahead of Lewis Hamilton and, perhaps importantly, well ahead of Valtteri Bottas - his rival for 2022's second seat at Merc - who finished eighth.

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