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Verstappen can shine if rain hits qualifying

Hamilton strong favourite for Belgian pole

Max Verstappen's rivals will need to watch their mirrors
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Belgian Grand Prix qualifying
Channel 4 & Sky Sports F1, 1pm

Belgian Grand Prix practice day ended in a deluge and the same forecaster who correctly predicted that is expecting qualifying to be similarly rain-hit.

Despite missing out on top spot to Kimi Raikkonen in the morning session, Lewis Hamilton looks the man to beat and he is no better than 4-9 to record his seventh pole position of the year.

We don’t really have a wet-weather formguide this year. The Chinese Grand Prix started on a damp track and there was a brief downpour during Silverstone qualifying but neither provided any clues.

As a renowned rain ace, Hamilton would probably be the benchmark in the wet, too, but rain causes the track conditions to change constantly so being on track at the right time in qualifying is as important as driving a clean lap.

Max Verstappen starred in the wet last season and the man who started second on the grid at Spa last season could be worth a tickle at 40-1.

The Dutchman outpaced championship leader Sebastian Vettel in practice and while he would probably struggle to confirm that form in a dry qualifying, rain at the right time could help him out.

Ferrari may have been expected to be on the back foot this weekend at a circuit that looks better suited to Mercedes.

However, after suspension and aero upgrades they looked capable of challenging in practice.

Mercedes have an engine upgrade for this race and won’t ‘turn up’ their motors before qualifying, so a leap in performance can be expected.

But Ferrari too have looked stronger in the sessions that count than they have in practice on occasion this season.

Raikkonen, who has won at the track four times, outpaced Vettel in both practices but the Ferrari drivers were running different programmes.

Williams might have expected an upturn in form at a track that often favours them, but an early crash for Felipe Massa damaged his chassis and ended his day, while Lance Stroll ended up 17th.

Recommendation
M Verstappen fastest qualifier
1pt each-way 40-1 general

rain causes the track conditions to change constantly so being on track at the right time in qualifying is as important as driving a clean lap
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