Russell had been on provisional pole after the opening runs of Q3 but was beaten by a last-gasp effort by Verstappen, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton was only third, 0.334s down on his main rival.

Verstappen left it late to claim his first pole at Spa-Francorchamps and the ninth of his career but it was Russell who stole the show with an incredible display in treacherous conditions to secure his best qualifying result for Williams and the team’s first front row start since Monza 2017.

Q3 was heavily disrupted by a huge crash for McLaren’s Lando Norris at Raidillon, which caused the session to be red-flagged for over half an hour.

Norris, who had been quickest in Q1 and Q2, lost control of his McLaren at Eau Rouge and slammed into the barriers at high-speed, before spinning violently several times before his car finally came to a rest at the top of the hill.

The Briton walked away from the accident but is currently undergoing an x-ray on his elbow, which he was seen clutching as he climbed out of his wrecked car.

When the session eventually got back underway, it was Hamilton who initially set the pace on intermediates before both Russell and then Verstappen usurped him.

Behind the battle for pole, Daniel Ricciardo claimed his best qualifying result for McLaren in fourth, outpacing Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin by a tenth.

Pierre Gasly took sixth in his AlphaTauri, ahead of Sergio Perez and the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who would only set a time good enough for eighth and will drop five places on the grid for Sunday’s race.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was the slowest of the drivers to set a time, ahead of Norris in 10th.

Charles Leclerc failed to advance to Q3 as he could only manage a time good enough for P11 in his Ferrari, ahead of Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and Scuderia teammate Carlos Sainz, who was also knocked out in 13th.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso was unable to join his Alpine teammate in progressing into the top 10 shootout as he finished 14th.

It was a frustrating session for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, who was only 15th after he missed the chance to do a second run due to crossing the line too late.

Antonio Giovinazzi failed to advance to Q2 for the first time in five races but was the highest-placed Alfa Romeo driver in 16th, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, who suffered a surprise elimination in Q1.

30 years on from his father’s stunning F1 debut at Spa, Mick Schumacher produced a lap good enough to out-qualify Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen and his Haas teammate Nikita Mazepin, who was slowest of all.

Results from qualifying at the 2021 F1 Belgian Grand Prix.