Not the best qualifying session of the season for championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who will line up tomorrow on the grid in P3. He had to concede the pole position to main title rival Max Verstappen and P2 to an astounding George Russell in a Williams.
The Brit wasn't fully satisfied with his performance, and opened his post-qualifying press conference praising Verstappen and Russell:
"It’s been a very difficult day, I think for everyone, and [I] just tried to stay positive and stay focused and calm but well done to Max, he did a great job right at the end."
"My first lap was really good; second lap, just struggled a little bit. But also, great job by George, fantastic. Difficult for everyone. These guys [Verstappen and Russell] did a great job in the final stages."
Hamilton spared a thought also for Norris, who impacted hardly into Eau Rouge and hit the barriers at Radillon after leading both Q1 and Q2 sessions, admitting that he had the pace to compete with them for the top spots today:
''Really happy to see Lando’s OK. He was looking incredibly quick. I think he would probably be up here with us, or maybe even squeeze me out potentially; he had great pace today. Hope he gets back on the road tomorrow.”
It was a hard day for Mercedes, as Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas too struggled a lot in the sessions, achieving a mere P8 in Q3 that will have him start tomorrow in P13 due to the five-place grid penalty he picked up in Hungary.
The World Champion reckons that it will make defending the championship lead from Red Bull harder, as Verstappen will have his freshly renewed teammate Perez much closer in P7: “Yes, I don’t really know what happened with Valtteri, but unfortunate because I think they have two Red Bulls not too far away [Perez starts 7th] – so that’s going to make it a little bit harder in terms of strategy because I think Valtteri has a penalty also."Hamilton concluded the interview thanking his team for the hard work and hoping for drier weather conditions, sparing a thought for the fans in the grandstands too:
"Nonetheless, we’ll do everything we can… I hope it’s not crazy rain like this but interchangeable [conditions] could be fine. Otherwise, I’m really grateful to the team for just keeping their cool during this session and tomorrow is another day. Hopefully we have better weather. Hopefully for the fans particularly because they’re probably drenched out there today.”