A stunning pole position for Max, in what is our 50th race weekend with Red Bull Racing, headlined three Honda-powered cars starting in the top ten in the Belgian Grand Prix after a treacherous qualifying session.
After a Red Bull one-two in wet conditions in FP3, Q1 provided an even tougher challenge with heavy rain delaying the start of the session. Once running got underway, the majority of drivers started on the full wet tyre before having to switch to the intermediate halfway through the running.
Lap times were dropping rapidly throughout the session, with a threat of further rain not materialising in Q1 and meaning it was all down to getting a clean run in when the track was at its best. While both Max and Sergio advanced in the top four, and Pierre was eighth, Yuki’s first qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps ended with a 16th place grid position for Sunday’s race, once penalties are applied to other drivers.
There was no more rain before Q2 began, but showers were predicted five minutes into the session, making for a potentially crucial opening run. Max and Sergio were last out on track but put in good first times to sit near the top of the standings, but as the rain didn’t come a second set of intermediates were required for all as conditions improved.
In such unpredictable weather, both teams excelled to avoid any shocks as Pierre went through to Q3 in fourth place ahead of Max in fifth and Sergio in seventh.
Heavy rain before Q3 made for treacherous conditions and one of the first cars to start a timed lap on full wet tyres - Lando Norris - suffered a big accident at Eau Rouge to bring out the red flags. Norris was fortunately OK but the clear-up operation and further heavy rain led to a long delay, with Q3 restarting some 45 minutes later.
On the restart, intermediate tyres were needed as the standing water quickly cleared, with times dropping with each extra lap completed. For a spell it looked like George Russell would take a shock pole position when the chequered flag fell, before Max showed his class and was the only driver able to beat the Williams and go under the two-minute barrier in Q3.
Pierre produced another excellent qualifying performance to secure a spot on row three in sixth place, while Sergio went for three push laps in a row in Q3 - as opposed to push-cool-push - and was unable to improve on his final attempt so will start seventh.