F1 2021
Round 12

Verstappen Takes POLE As Honda And Red Bull Racing Celebrate 50 Races Together

be Spa Francorchamps

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.

Verstappen Takes POLE As Honda And Red Bull Racing Celebrate 50 Races Together

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.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
Spa’s weather lived up to its reputation today. Max did a brilliant job in the difficult and changing conditions to secure his sixth pole of the season. It was nice to achieve this for Honda’s 50th race in partnership with Red Bull Racing. And with his team-mate Checo seventh and Pierre Gasly securing yet another sixth place for Scuderia AlphaTauri, we can be pleased to have three cars in the top seven on the grid. Yuki lacked a bit of pace today, but even from 17th on the grid, he can have a good race tomorrow as it’s a long race and overtaking is possible. In today’s changing conditions, both our teams did a very good job of managing the sessions, choosing the right moment to send the drivers out on track. It seems the weather for the race could be similar to today’s, so we will now analyse our data and prepare for whatever situation arises. Finally, it was good to see Lando Norris able to walk away from his heavy crash in Q3. 

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
I am very happy with pole position here at a home Grand Prix, but it was not easy out there. It was very hard to nail a lap, I was just trying to find the right lines at the right times and judging how fast to go into corners after such a long red flag was tricky. It was so important to get the tyres up to temperature because that could give you a few seconds of lap time around a long track like this. Tomorrow we don’t know if it will be a dry or wet start, I think if it’s wet I don’t mind if I start first because at least I should have clear vision but I just hope that we have a good and clean start. I also hope that Lando is feeling okay and that he doesn’t have any serious injuries because that didn’t look like a good impact at all, he’s a good friend of mine so I hope he can race tomorrow.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s been a fun afternoon, I really enjoy driving in these conditions, you don’t know what you’re going to get on track, and you have to try to be at the limit of what the car can do. It’s another great Quali for us, finishing in P6, and I think we’re in a good position for the race tomorrow. It was tricky out there today and I’m glad to see that Lando got out of the car and is ok. I have no idea what the weather will be like tomorrow, it’s been so changeable the whole weekend, so I’ll open the curtains in the morning and see what we get!

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I’m very disappointed with my qualifying as our car was performing well, there was plenty of pace in it and a much better position was possible today. With the changing weather conditions it was tough out there and so the final lap was going to be critical but unfortunately I wasn’t able to improve. It’s a shame but I’m still looking forward to tomorrow as with the weather anything can happen and so there’s plenty of opportunities. The Team is doing a strong job and provided we can stay out of trouble tomorrow then we should be in pretty good shape and able to fight for a strong result. I’m also pleased to see Lando was able to get out of the car after his accident and hope he’s okay. We discussed Eau Rouge in the drivers’ meeting on Friday and raised our concerns so I really hope to see some solutions for next year. It’s something that we definitely have to improve because in conditions like today, if we have a wet race tomorrow, it’s not a place where drivers want to have contact, especially considering it is a blind spot.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
I’ve been aiming to steadily build up my speed and confidence in the car across this weekend and I think I’ve done this well, improving through the practice sessions. However, today the conditions in Qualifying were definitely not easy, especially as I don’t have a lot of experience driving in the wet in a Formula 1 car. I’m disappointed to have not made it through to Q2, as the pace in the car was definitely there, but I just wasn’t fast enough to make it through. I think we need to hope for mixed conditions in the race tomorrow to allow me to move up through the pack.

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