On a drying Spa-Francorchamps circuit timing the final flyer to perfection was of the essence, with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly the first of four drivers to claim provisional pole until Red Bull’s Max Verstappen pipped McLaren prodigy Oscar Piastri to the top of the timesheets.
Mercedes seemed to have made an error in assessing the positions of their drivers at the beginning of the last lap. Russell unintentionally impeded Hamilton by locking up his tires while entering Turn 1.
Hamilton overtook Russell on the Kemmel straight, although he had to release the throttle, resulting in both their final laps being spoiled.
Hamilton was moved to seventh place, as Russell decided not to complete his lap and would begin the sprint race on Saturday afternoon from the tenth position.
Russell attributed his near collision with Hamilton to inadequate communication, acknowledging that he had been performing below par during the session.
“To be honest, it was a complete disaster from beginning to end,” Russel informed F1 TV.
“I was astonished to reach Q3 due to numerous errors on my part and a slight miscommunication towards the end. I was following the car in front too closely, while Lewis was also in close proximity to me.”
We believed we wouldn’t complete the lap due to the dwindling time on the clock. However, it turned out there was actually more time remaining than we had anticipated, as I believe Max was the final car to pass the finish line.
George Russell, Mercedes-AMG
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Russell expressed his disappointment about the weekend, stating that it was a complete disaster and did not go as planned. He remains hopeful for a potential improvement in the future.
I am certainly certain that we can improve our speed during the race, but up until now, our performance in individual lap qualifying has been unsatisfactory.
Hamilton believed that he would have secured a spot in the front row if Russell had not obstructed him.
Hamilton expressed his dissatisfaction, clearly stating, “I am not pleased with the situation.” He further explained, “The race was going well; I had a fantastic initial lap that secured my first position.”
“I believe I could have achieved either first or second place in that session, but the communication was quite inadequate. As we reached the final corner, there were seven cars moving slowly.”
“We were under the impression that we were running out of time, but it ended up that we actually had an ample amount of time. As for George, the situation remains as it is. It’s not particularly significant.”
Hamilton expressed a more positive outlook regarding the overall performance of Mercedes’ car. The seven-time world champion will start in the third position on the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.
He provided an explanation, stating that he experiences a positive sensation while inside the vehicle, regardless of the circumstances.
“A little bit slower than the Red Bulls in the middle sector, but none of us have driven on heavier fuel, so I’m excited that it’s dry today so hopefully we can have a good race.”