As engine penalties meant Lewis Hamilton joined Fernando Alonso in a race to the back of the grid, it was Max Verstappen who took the fight to Nico Rosberg and Mercedes in qualifying.
To the delight of his fans, who had flocked to the circuit, The Dutchman became the youngest ever driver to qualify on the front row as he took P2 alongside the German.
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Position: 2nd, 1:46.893 (Practice 3 – no time was set)
“It’s a great feeling. As soon as I crossed the line in Q3 on my fastest lap, I could see the fans going really wild so I knew it was a good lap. It’s been already an amazing weekend. To see so many fans around the track and feel their support is incredible and I’ve been enjoying the whole week a lot, so to be second on the grid is fantastic. It would have been very difficult to get pole position. The chance is always there if you are that close and in sector two we were very strong, but we were missing some top speed. Tomorrow will be very interesting with the different strategies between us, Mercedes and Ferrari so I think it’ll be a good fight. Hopefully the supersofts will give me a bit more grip in the first few laps and then for sure I will drop off a bit but that’s my strategy. I will probably have to pit a bit earlier but we have to wait and see how the race goes. Big thanks to the team for such a quick turnaround and working so hard on getting me out on time in Qualifying.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Position: 5th, 1:47.216 (Practice 3 – P2 1:48.189)
“In Q3 I would have loved to have got a bit more out of it, but I’m not too disappointed looking at the race tomorrow. I’m really pleased I got through on the softs in Q2, that was our objective, whether it works tomorrow or not let’s see, but that’s what I wanted to get out of it. I’d be less happy with P5 on some tracks, but I’m not disappointed for two reasons: you can overtake here and with the tyres we’ve got this weekend, you can do a lot during the race tomorrow. If you can have a faster car or if you can be a bit more intelligent, then it can pay off. In Q2 my objective was to start on the softs. It was a nervous few minutes but we did it. I’m happy; it’s close enough to the front and I’m on the softs, sure a few cars in front have them too, but it’s going to be a good race. Two years ago I started in P5 and won! Max did really well to get on the front row – but we have a split strategy for tomorrow, we talked about it before qualifying and he wanted to start the race on supersofts and I wanted to start on softs, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A fantastic performance by Max, in what is theoretically his home race, to qualify on the front row here within 15 hundredths of Mercedes, and with Daniel in fifth place on the grid at a track where you can overtake, it’s going to be a fascinating race. That together with the different strategies the two cars will be running tomorrow, starting on different tyres, it should prove to be an exciting grand prix. It’s all going to be about tyre degradation and managing the tyres particularly in these unusually hot conditions at Spa.”