Lewis Hamilton sends message to ‘buzzing’ George Russell after crazy Belgium GP qualifying

F1 preview: A lap of the Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton congratulated Mercedes junior driver George Russell after his fellow Briton qualified an incredible second for Sunday’s Belgium Grand Prix. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen stole pole from Russell right at the end of the session but nonetheless the Williams driver will start on the front row for the first time in his Formula One career.

Verstappen finished 0.321 seconds clear of Russell with seven-time world champion Hamilton set to start the race in third, though it is quite convincingly Russell’s best ever qualifying performance.

That came after a lengthy stoppage due to a red flag after Lando Norris suffered a heavy crash in Spa, with Russell’s countryman thankfully climbing from the car OK.

Russell is being tipped to replace Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes for 2022 with the Silver Arrows yet to confirm whether or not the Finn will be dropped.

And he did his chances of a promotion from backmarkers Williams no harm with a sensational lap in Belgium, which earned him praise from Hamilton, who could be his new team-mate next year.

Hamilton said after a hectic qualifying session: “It’s been a very difficult day for everyone. I just tried to stay positive and stay focused and calm.

“Well done to Max, he did a great job right at the end. My first lap was really good but the second I struggled a little bit. Also a great job by George, that’s fantastic.

“If it’s like this tomorrow it’s going to be tricky. There’s this balance of straight-line speed versus that mid-section downforce. We tried to strike the best balance possible.

“Maybe it’s not the best for today. We’ll see tomorrow exactly how good it is. Otherwise I’m really grateful for the team for keeping their cool during this session.

“Tomorrow’s another day. Hopefully we have better weather, hopefully for the fans particularly, they’re probably drenched out there.”

Bottas finished P8 and well adrift of his team-mate but will be demoted five places due to a penalty.

Hamilton added: “I don’t really know what happened with Valtteri. It’s unfortunate because I think they have two Red Bulls not too far away.

“That’s going to make it a little bit harder in terms of strategy, I think Valtteri has a penalty also.

“Nonetheless we’ll do everything we can. Tomorrow’s another day. I hope it’s not crazy rain like this but interchangeable could be fun.”

Russell meanwhile reflected: “I don’t know what to say to be honest. I thought we’d be doing a good job to get out of Q1, how we got on yesterday.


“Now we’re standing here on the front row. The guys did an amazing job today. We were on the track always at the right time.

“The car was feeling great, I had so much confidence. On to tomorrow now. I think I was in a fortunate position that we had nothing to lose.

“We were in Q3 which is not the norm for us. We had to go for it and saved the full maximum engine mode for the last lap and thought ‘Let’s go for it.’

“I’m buzzing, absolutely buzzing. Tomorrow’s the important one. We’ve got to go out there and score some points.

“That’s the plan [to attack the first corner]. If it’s there for the taking, we’ll go for it! Mega.”


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