AFTER a four-week break, the F1 returns and Belgium has taken over fans who are overflowing to get their motorsport fix.
Lewis Hamilton will expand his lead on the field above Sebastian Vettel after he has claimed pole in wet conditions.
Red Bull again struggled to compete and will start the race from seventh and eighth place on the starting field, with Max Verstappen eliminating Daniel Ricciardo painstakingly.
Despite a tumultuous past month Force India reacted spectacularly to claim a lock-out in the second row.
Max joins the top three
When Daniel Ricciardo sat back and licked his wounds, teammate Max Verstappen made steps for a podium for Red Bull.
The 20-year-old star completed an expertly timed pop at Esteban Ocon in the eighth round to outdo the Force India star at Les Combes.
And it was not long before the brave fireworks tore through the second Force India car.
Verstappen flashed Sergio Perez on three outs by the same turn as his teammate to become third.
Parts fly in a chaotic start
Fernando Alonso was welcomed back to Formula 1 after his retirement to have announced at a wrecked car before the first turn in Spa.
The Spaniard was eliminated after the lights by Nico Hulkenberg and was sent by air. Charles Leclerc was also caught in the crossfire and rejoined the barns before the first round.
At the front of the peloton, Sebastian Vettel made a sensational move on pole position Lewis Hamilton to squeeze the lead on the straight. Esteban Ocon slid above his weight and almost knocked over the chaos.
Aussie Daniel Ricciardo suffered damage to the rear wings during the scary start, while Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was sent back early to the pits with a flat tire.
Ricciardo was washed by Vettel after he had recovered and was in last place (17th) at the end of the seventh round.
– Apex Off (@ApexOff) August 26, 2018
Red Bull is hoping ruined by rain
When the heavens opened in the third and final qualifying session, teams had to adapt to the changes and while others were lucky, it could not be for Red Bull.
During the season they played without luck and it again fell for both Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
The radars showed that the showers would continue until the end of the session, so that the decision was made to walk on the intermediate tires with their current fuel load.
Of course, as we now know, it started to dissolve late in the session and both drivers were left to match the missed opportunity.
Over time, Verstappen finished seventh with Ricciardo just behind the eighth spot on the starting grid for the race.
– Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) August 25, 2018
"It was not ideal, but I think at the time we thought we had the right strategy," Verstappen said after the session. "But when unfortunately the last few laps it stopped raining.
"We have dried the car, because tomorrow it will be dry.
"The car will perform well, not fast enough for Mercedes and Ferrari, but we will stand behind them."
A finish immediately behind the two powerful cars from Mercedes and Ferrari would be in the alley of Ricciardo, because he does not seem to be able to put his finger on the car.
"It has just been a little weird," he said after qualifying. "The car did not feel like something was fundamentally wrong, it had little grip and was slow.
"It was a bit of a handful, we are trying to find a good spot, but it has not yet come."
The misery of McLaren continues in Belgium
Fernando Alonso says he did not feel disappointed about the McLaren Q1 exit in the Belgian GP qualifying, because the elimination of the team was "the place we belong to".
Both Alonso and team-mate Vandoorne failed to get past the first round of qualifying, resulting in McLaren's worst season becoming increasingly important.
But Alonso, who leaves F1 at the end of 2018, insists: "It was a very good day at the office."
The Spaniard continued: "It is not frustrating, this is where we should be home, this is what we expect here.
"We knew this was a difficult circuit for our package and we know that Monza will be tough next weekend.
"The round was fun, everything feels good and you cross the border and there are 16 cars waiting for you."
– Luke Smith (@ LukeSmithF1) August 25, 2018
For Vandoorne, behind Alonso in every qualifying session this year, the additional pain was his slump to the foot of the field during his home race.
Even an attempted drag, designed to give their cars a boost along the straights, did not yield any release.
"There was no surprise," Vandoorne said. "The general implementation explains virtually everything.
"It's a Grand Prix at home and it's really a shame not to have better machines, we tried to play every card and we did not achieve anything, it was a difficult weekend, we did not have any performance at all."
– Pete Gill, skysports.com