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Verstappen denies Piastri Sprint pole


Ahead of today's Shootout, the air temperature is 16 degrees C, while the track temperature is 19 degrees. It is cold and wet... very wet.

Indeed, the F3 Sprint earlier ended with no points being awarded as there was only one lap when the Safety Car wasn't on track.

This morning's weather follows the heavy rain of practice yesterday morning and the mixed conditions for qualifying in the afternoon.

The ever changing weather is causing a nightmare for the teams as they simply don't know which way it is going to go and therefore don't know how best to set up their cars, a situation further complicated by the fact that it looks as though Sunday will be dry.

As a result not only have we seen differences between the various teams but even between teammate, Mercedes, in particular, opting to give Russell a 'barn door' rear wing while teammate Hamilton had the much smaller version.

Due to the rain the start of Q1 is delayed. The rain subsequently stops and as the skies brighten track cleaners are sent out to push some of the water away.

At 12:18, race control confirms that Q1 will get underway at 12:35, even though conditions already appear to be fine.

Seven minutes before the green light the Mercedes pair head out of their garages.

Of course, another factor to consider here is the sheer length of the Spa track, for if you head out and then decide you're on the wrong tyres you've got just over four miles to go before you can do anything about it.

"It's very reminiscent of Q1, what with the sun shining," says Russell.

Track temperature has improved to 23 degrees but the air temperature remains at 16.

The lights go green and Hamilton leads the way, followed by Russell, Bottas, Zhou and Magnussen.

As more drivers head out all are on Inters, some new and some used.

Last out is Verstappen, who joins the track just ahead of Hamilton.

Hamilton gets things underway with a 2:02.297. Russell can only manage 5.067.

Magnussen pits at the end of his lap as Norris goes second ahead of Bottas, Zhou and Russell.

No sooner has Leclerc gone top than Piastri responds with a 1.311.

A 1.933 sees Albon go third while Ricciardo goes fifth.

Verstappen crosses the line at 2:00.352.

An impeding incident involving Verstappen and Hamilton at Turn 1 has been noted.

Perez goes third and Gasly fourth, but they are demoted when Russell posts a 1.034 to go third.

Sainz goes quickest (59.981), while Alonso can only manage ninth.

Verstappen consolidates his top spot with a 58.958, Perez improves to second and Hamilton third.

With 2:30 remaining, neither of the Haas drivers has posted a time.

On board with Norris up the Kemmel Straight and the sun is shining.

As the clock ticks down a traffic jam is building at the final chicane.

Albon goes quickest in S1 as the Haas pair are really struggling.

Leclerc goes third while Hulkenberg fails to make the cut without setting a time.

Albon goes second (59.198), Sainz fourth, Tsunoda eleventh and Alonso second.

A 58.135 from Verstappen as Hamilton goes second and Ocon eighth.

Stroll goes thirteenth and Ricciardo twelfth.

Russell makes it through to Q2 by the skin of his teeth.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Hamilton, Alonso, Albon, Perez, Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon, Sargeant and Gasly.

We lose Tsunoda, Bottas, Magnussen, Zhou and Hulkenberg.

Replays show that the front jack broke when Hulkenberg pitted and by the time he got going again he'd run out of time.

Ricciardo is first out for Q2, followed by former teammate Norris and Sargeant.

As more drivers head out, Inters are once again the go-to tyre.

Ricciardo posts a benchmark 57.687. Alonso and Albon have yet to emerge from the pits, no doubt considering their option in terms of tyres.

Norris posts a 56.828 to go top, as Sargeant spins off at Turn 15.

Ocon goes second with a 57.051 but is demoted when Hamilton goes top with a 55.823.

Stroll, who has pitted, heads out on new mediums.

Verstappen goes quickest (55.200), ahead of Hamilton, Perez, Gasly and Leclerc.

Alonso and Albon head out but both have opted for Inters. Stroll perseveres with his slicks.

"We're committed to this, you've got to go," he is told. The Canadian clearly isn't happy.

"It's drying very fast," says Hamilton as Stroll goes off and into the barrier at Turn 9.

The session is red-flagged and will not restart, which is a disaster for his teammate, and the Williams pair, who had not posted times.

"We had to do what we had to do," says a clearly disappointed Albon, who admits surprise that Stroll opted for mediums as opposed to softs.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Hamilton, Perez, Gasly, Leclerc, Piastri, Sainz, Norris, Ocon and Russell.

We lose Ricciardo, Albon, Sargeant, Stroll and Albon.

Leclerc leads the way as Q3 gets the greenlight, he and his Ferrari teammate sporting softs.

They are followed by Gasly, Norris, Ocon, Piastri, Hamilton and Russell, softs all the way.

Last out are the Bulls.

Leclerc posts a benchmark 52.525, while Sainz responds with a 55.374.

A 51.546 sees Norris go top while teammate Piastri goes third.

Hamilton goes top with a 51.198, ahead of Verstappen (51.286).

Sainz goes sixth, ahead of Russell, Perez, Gasly and Ocon.

Ocon improves to fourth as Verstappen is told to pick up his pace.

Perez goes quickest with a 50.303 as teammate Verstappen begins his final flyer.

Leclerc is quickest in S1 however he subsequently has a major wobble in Turn 8.

Gasly goes quickest with a 49.700 and Ocon third (50.494).

Sainz goes quickest and his teammate second, but both are demoted by Piastri (49.067), who is leapfrogged by Verstappen (49.056) moments later.

The top three, Verstappen, Piastri and Sainz, are covered by just 0.025s, with Leclerc and Norris also within 0.333s.

Verstappen has Sprint pole, ahead of Piastri, Leclerc, Norris, Gasly, Hamilton, Perez, Ocon and Russell.

Ricciardo is eleventh, ahead of Albon, Sargeant, Stroll, Albon, Tsunoda, Bottas, Magnussen, Zhou and Hulkenberg.

Ahead of this afternoon's Sprint one would very much like to be a fly on the wall of a coupe of the team debriefing offices, what with the Mercedes pair almost tripping up over one another and the disasters at Haas and Aston Martin.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Spa here.


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