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Russell shines as Norris escapes huge crash

NEWS STORY
28/08/2021

Ahead of today's qualifying session the air temperature is 14.5 degrees C, while the track temperature is 17.4 degrees C.

If you thought conditions were difficult earlier, they have very much deteriorated over the break.

Max Verstappen was quickest earlier but in all honesty such are the conditions it is almost impossible to anticipate what we might expect over the next hour.

And therein lies the fun, for as much as Ross Brawn and his buddies seek to spice thing up with gimmicks, it is only the likes of the Weather Gods who can throw the genuine surprise.

Behind the usual suspects this morning, we had Norris, Ocon, Stroll, Gasly, Vettel, Russell, Alonso, Bottas, Latifi, Ricciardo, Sainz, Schumacher, Leclerc, and Tsunoda, imagine that line-up tomorrow afternoon.

While there was rain for much of the two hours since this morning's session, with around half-an-hour to go it eased, then stopped. For a brief moment the sun appeared, only to disappear again.

They are playing with us... let's just hope it is worth it.

To recap, Bottas and Stroll both have penalties following their silliness in Hungary, while Hamilton is running a much fatter rear wing than his teammate. At Ferrari, Leclerc is running a new chassis after damaging his previous car in FP2 yesterday.

In the moments before Q1 it begins to rain again... and it's heavy. Indeed, the start of the session delayed.

Twelve minutes later than originally scheduled the lights go green. There is already a queue of cars at the end of the pitlane.

As they head out, Russell is told there will not be any further rain for the next 15 minutes. All are sporting full wets bar the Williams pair who are on Inters.

Benefitting from the fact that he is in clear air, Russell is setting a blistering pace on his Inters until he comes across his teammate who has spun at Turn 12, thereby bringing out the yellows.

Russell subsequently crosses the line at 2:11.727. Gasly and Hamilton both go quicker, but only just so perhaps it is already time to switch to the green-banded rubber.

Perez posts 2:10.135 with teammate Verstappen posting a 2:07.574 moments later.

However, on a clean lap Russell posts a 2:02.068 while Latifi goes second with a 2:05.019.

"We're going to box at the end of this lap because the Inters have posted the fastest time," Perez is advised.

Wobbles for Hamilton and Verstappen.

Perez isn't the only one who pits, for with an eye on the Williams pace almost everyone switches to the Inters.

Advised to switch to Inters, Alonso responds: "Wait!" The Spaniard is currently ninth.

Indeed, Bottas is advised that "rain in imminent".

On Inters, Ocon goes third with a 2:03.650.

Sainz goes quickest in S1, but Russell goes quicker. As does Russell.

With 5:10 remeining, all are on Inters.

Sainz goes quickest (2:02.057), but is eclipsed by Perez and then Ricciardo.

Leclerc goes top with a 2:01.485, but Russell and then Verstappen go quicker.

The timing screen lights up like a bagatelle, as Norris goes quickest.

Hamilton improves to fourth with a 2:00.561, while Bottas can only manage seventh (2:01.646).

Schumacher goes 15th, while both Aston Martin drivers are in the drop zone.

Hamilton goes quickest in S1 as Stroll improves to ninth.

Despite a lock-up at the chicane Hamilton improves to second with a 59.218.

A late effort sees Vettel improve to ninth with a 2:01.411.

Ricciardo improves to 12th but is it enough.

A 58.717 sees Verstappen go top, only to be beaten by Norris who stops the clock at 58.301.

Tsunoda fails to improve as do the Alfa Romeo pair.

Perez goes fourth and Vettel seventh in the final moments.

Quickest is Norris, ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Russell, Bottas, Vettel, Gasly, Leclerc and Latifi.

We lose Giovinazzi, Tsunoda, Schumacher, Raikkonen and Mazepin.

With an eye on the sky the drivers are lined up in the pitlane for Q2, Inters are the order of the day.

Sainz is advised that rain will arrive five minutes into the session. All are on new Inters bar the Mercedes pair who have opted for used rubber.

However, Hamilton is subsequently told to pit for new Inters.

"There's rain coming," Perez is told, "we want a banker lap."

Like Russell in Q1, Norris takes full advantage of the fact that he is in clear air. He crosses the line at 57.235, while Russell responds with a 58.698.

Gasly goes second and Sainz fourth, while Ocon is still sub two minutes.

Ricciardo can only manage fifth, 1.758s off his teammate's pace.

A 57.866 sees Vettel go second.

Verstappen goes second and Perez fifth, leaving the Mercedes pair as the only drivers still to post a time.

Having gone quickest in S1, Hamilton subsequently backs off as does teammate Bottas, they post 2:08.935 and 2:11.580 respectively. Could it be raining again?

Next time around Hamilton posts 58.539 to go 7th while Bottas can only manage ninth (58.767).

With 5:15 remaining, Stroll, Sainz, Latifi, Ocon and Alonso comprise the drop zone.

Sainz goes quickest in S1 and Verstappen in S2.

Verstappen goes quickest as Stroll improves to 6th. Perez subsequently goes third and Sainz 7th.

Hamilton and Bottas both pit for fresh Inters, the Briton currently 10th and the Finn 12th.

Leclerc goes fourth and thereby demotes Hamilton into the drop zone.

The stewards have noted an incident involving Sainz and Ocon at the chicane.

"We need this lap," Hamilton is told.

Vettel goes quickest in S1, as the Mercedes pair begin their final flying laps. The German subsequently goes second.

Hamilton goes quickest in S1, while Norris sets the pace in S2.

Latifi improves to ninth, as Norris goes top with a 56.025.

A 56.229 sees Hamilton go second, while Bottas goes third (56.295).

A late improvement from Ocon is bad news for Leclerc, as Ricciardo and Russell make late improvements.

"That was way too close," admits Hamilton.

Quickest is Norris, ahead of Hamilton, Bottas, Gasly, Verstappen, Vettel, Perez, Russell, Ricciardo and Ocon.

We lose Leclerc, Latifi, Sainz, Alonso and Stroll.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spa, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 29/08/2021 1:07

"Well that was an edge of the seat quali!!! I have however a different opinion contrary to some. There are two major issues...If these drivers are the best in the world then they should know that to attempt to drive beyond their limits is fraught with disaster and secondly a lesson that all drivers should know and practice endlessly is to 'drive to the existing conditions'. Norris failed to practice both of these. Harsh but true..IMO.

Vettel called for a red flag? If it was unsafe then all he had to do was slow down, after all no one had a pistol at his head forcing him to drive at unsafe speeds in what some would call treacherous conditions.. Surely it's all relative! Norris was overhyped. He had been driving very very well all weekend and was heading for an excellent quali result but he ran out of talent and crashed. The lesson here is that he gambled and lost. All drivers can at any time withdraw their services if they believe that to race could endanger their lives. Life is fragile and Norris was a very lucky guy to escape with as little damage as he has sustained. In the future he should be a bit more circumspect and go beyond all the media hype and silly talk about 'gladiators' etc etc etc. He is young, fast and ambitious and he will do well but not if he continues to take risks that he cannot control."

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2. Posted by nnails, 28/08/2021 20:13

"I love f1 but current f1 have to much down force. If they went round corner slower it would less of an accident and would also be better for fans. "

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3. Posted by Superbird70, 28/08/2021 19:29

"I think that Brundle used the term "gladiators" to describe the drivers when commenting on Norris' crash and the weather conditions. Sport and entertainment?"

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4. Posted by Greg, 28/08/2021 16:42

"@Editor. Fully agree. The events over the weekend and with previous races should have been a clear message. When Seb calls for red flags his widom should have been heeded. It is a sport not entertainment. Wr dont need to see needless damage or injury just for the "entertainment" aspect of racing."

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