Perez out of Belgian F1 GP after pre-race crash

Sergio Perez will not start Sunday's Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix after crashing en route to the grid in wet conditions at Spa.

Red Bull driver Perez had been due to start from seventh on the grid, but lost control of his car while going through Les Combes during his reconnaissance laps ahead of the race.

Perez crashed front first into the barrier on the right-hand side of the circuit, leaving the car with significant damage to the front suspension.

Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley informed race director Michael Masi over team radio that the "right front suspension damage is too extreme for us to continue".

Perez was told by his engineer on the radio: "That's us done, so kill the engine."

Perez duly hopped out of the car, which was been lifted away by a trackside crane.

It comes as a blow to Red Bull as it looked to reclaim the lead of the constructors' championship from Mercedes, having slipped to 12 points behind at the last race in Hungary.

Perez's teammate, Max Verstappen, will start the race from pole position, while Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will line up third and 13th respectively.

Heavy rain has fallen throughout the day at Spa, with a number of drivers reporting low grip and visibility during their laps to the grid.

Hamilton told his Mercedes team over the radio there was "no grip out here", while Williams' George Russell - who will line up P2 on the grid - said visibility was "very poor".

"Even when I was about six seconds behind the car ahead, I couldn't see down the straight," Russell added. Drivers completed all of their laps to the grid on the full wet tyres.

Rain on Saturday caused qualifying to be delayed by 10 minutes before ultimately being red flagged in Q3 following a crash for Lando Norris as conditions worsened.

Perez's crash means that only 18 cars will start Sunday's race from the grid, with Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen starting from the pit lane after his team changed the specification of his rear wing. Perez's P7 grid slot will be left empty.

The start of the race has been delayed due to heavy rain, with an eventual start set to take place behind the safety car.

Race control announced in the lead-up to the planned start of the race at 1500 local time at Spa that the formation laps would take place behind the safety car, which ultimately come out of the planned race distance.

But the decision was then taken to delay proceedings by an initial 10 minutes before pushing the start of the formation lap out to 1515 local time, and then again to 1520 under the current plan.

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