Max Verstappen takes pole for Belgian GP; George Russell qualifies second for Williams

F1 Spa pole Verstappen
John Thys/Getty Images

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Max Verstappen produced a brilliant last lap in the rain to take F1 pole position Saturday for the Belgian Grand Prix and deny George Russell a stunning first career pole in Formula One.

World champion Lewis Hamilton placed third for Mercedes.

Hamilton had the leading time with drivers on their final runs. But Russell, driving a slower Williams, beat Hamilton’s leading mark.

Verstappen found extra pace to cross the line 0.321 seconds ahead of Russell and 0.334 clear of Hamilton.

Verstappen leads Hamilton 6-3 in pole positions this season and is in a good position to cut into Hamilton’s eight-point lead in the championship.

“That is simply lovely. Great start after the (midseason) break,” Verstappen said. “It’s a great track to drive but very challenging in the wet.”

Verstappen’s ninth career pole was one of the toughest.

“All the qualifying was really tricky,” the Dutchman said. “There were problems with visibility.”

Russell, who has been touted as a possible Mercedes driver next year if the team does not renew Valtteri Bottas’ contract, showed his talent with a fantastic lap.

“Absolutely buzzing,” said Russell, who also qualified second last year in Bahrain but while driving a Mercedes in place of an ailing Hamilton. “It’s been mega today. Max just pipped me.”

The 23-year-old British driver showed great maturity and racing nous.

“Conditions were changing every single lap. It was incredibly difficult out there,” he said. “It was about pushing right to the limit but not pushing over. It was definitely a very good lap.”

Hamilton missed out on a record-extending 102nd pole as he aims for a record-extending 100th F1 win.

“It’s been a very difficult day for everyone,” Hamilton said. “Well done to Max. Also, a great job by George.”

The seven-time F1 champion again was asked his opinion on who could drive alongside him next year at Mercedes.

“George has been doing a great job all year. He’s got pressure on him just as Valtteri has,” Hamilton said. “It’s great to see him (Russell) delivering.”

Bottas qualified eighth but starts a lowly 13th because of a five-place grid penalty for causing a crash at the Hungarian GP.

British driver Lando Norris had looked good, topping the first two sections of qualifying, but he crashed heavily early into Q3. The McLaren driver later was cleared to race Sunday.

“Lando was looking incredibly quick; he had some great pace today,” Hamilton said. “I hope he gets back on the road tomorrow.”

His crash delayed the end of qualifying for about 45 minutes.

When it resumed, there were 9 minutes left.

“There’s still a lot of spray,” Hamilton said as he went out.

The start of qualifying was delayed by 12 minutes after pouring rain had drenched the 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) Spa-Francorchamps circuit for a couple of hours.

The track was still very wet, and Williams driver Nicholas Latifi soon went off and into some grass. Hamilton also had a brief wobble on track in Q1 – the first part of qualifying – when he momentarily lost the rear of his car and slid to the left.

Norris topped Q1 ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton, with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikonnen, the 2007 F1 champion, among the five drivers eliminated.

Norris led again in Q2, this time from Hamilton and Bottas. Both Ferraris were eliminated on a disappointing afternoon for Charles Leclerc and his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr.

The umbrellas came back out again as heavy rain returned for Q3, the final part of qualifying.

“I think they should red flag (halt the session), too much water,” Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel said on team radio.

Norris expressed concern, too, and moments later he was spinning off track into a tire wall at the notorious Eau Rouge section of the track. Both ends of the McLaren were mangled and the red flag came out with nine minutes left in the session.

In a show of solidarity, Vettel stopped alongside Norris’ car and raised a thumb to check if he was fine. Norris, who had the fastest time in Q3 before he spun, clutched his arm as he walked out but otherwise seemed unharmed.

Moments later, Norris lost control and spun several times, prompting a red flag as the wreck of his battered McLaren was lifted off track by a crane.

“Yeah, well. What did I say? What did I say? Red flag!” an angry Vettel shouted, using an expletive to underline his frustration that the session was allowed to continue. “(It’s) unnecessary.”

Earlier Saturday, Verstappen led the third and final practice ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez, who signed a new one-year deal for next season, and Hamilton as rain fell persistently.

Verstappen topped the second practice on Friday.

Hamilton is chasing a fifth win at the Belgian GP.

IndyCar results, points after Detroit Grand Prix


DETROIT — Alex Palou topped the results of an NTT IndyCar Series race for the second time this season, extending his championship points lead with his victory in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who also won the GMR Grand Prix (and the Indy 500 pole position) last month, holds a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson (ninth at Detroit) through seven of 17 races this season.

Ganassi, which placed all four of its drivers in the top 10 at Detroit, has three of the top four in the championship standings with Scott Dixon ranked fourth after a fourth at Detroit.

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Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is third in the standings after taking a 10th at Detroit. Pato O’Ward slipped to fifth in the points after crashing and finishing 26th

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:


Click here for the official box score from the 100-lap race on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile street course in downtown Detroit.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
2. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
5. (13) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
6. (12) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
7. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
8. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
9. (6) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
10. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
12. (17) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 100, Running
13. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 100, Running
14. (20) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
15. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
16. (18) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
17. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
18. (14) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
19. (23) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 100, Running
20. (19) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 97, Running
21. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 97, Running
22. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 97, Running
23. (21) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Contact
24. (3) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 80, Contact
25. (27) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, Contact
26. (10) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 41, Contact
27. (16) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 80.922 mph; Time of Race: 02:01:58.1171; Margin of victory: 1.1843 seconds; Cautions: 7 for 32 laps; Lead changes: 10 among seven drivers. Lap Leaders: Palou 1-28; Power 29-33; O’Ward 34; Palou 35-55; Power 56-64; Palou 65; Rossi 66; Newgarden 67-68; Kirkwood 69; Ericsson 70-76; Palou 77-100.


Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:



Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 273, Ericsson 222, Newgarden 203, Dixon 194, O’Ward 191, Rossi 176, McLaughlin 175, Power 172, Herta 149, Rosenqvist 148.

Rest of the standings: Grosjean 145, Kirkwood 142, Lundgaard 136, Ilott 116, VeeKay 108, Ferrucci 105, Armstrong 101, Rahal 99, Malukas 91, Daly 88, DeFrancesco 81, Castroneves 80, Harvey 78, Canapino 77, Pagenaud 72, Pedersen 61, Robb 55, Takuma Sato 37, Ed Carpenter 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20, Tony Kanaan 18, Marco Andretti 13, RC Enerson 5, Katherine Legge 5.

Next race: IndyCar will head to Road America for the Sonsio Grand Prix, which will take place June 18 with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.