Verstappen fastest but Sainz to start from pole at Spa

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

Max Verstappen easily dominated qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix. Despite being fastest in all three session, Carlos Sainz will start from pole tomorrow as engine penalties move the Red Bull driver back on the starting grid. Sergio Perez was third fastest with Leclerc 4th.

Qualifying was first delayed by 25 minutes due to repairs ongoing barrier repairs after a crash in the Porsche super cup event.

When the session finally started, the first car out on track was Nicholas Latifi. He took to the track on mediums but returned immediately after a single discovery lap. Meanwhile, Mick Schumacher had come out and he ended up setting the first timed lap of the session. It was nothing special though and only better than both Alfa Romeo cars halfway into the session.

By then, Verstappen had easily set the best time. With a 1:44.581 he ended up nearly half a second ahead of Carlos Sainz. Sergio Perez was an extra 3 tenths off and Leclerc followed at 0.991 seconds. Ocon and Alonso were very tightly matched as they were 5th and 6th fastest.

In the closing stages of the first session, both Mercedes managed to improve while Albon surprised for Williams by slotting into 6th, right in between the Mercedes duo. Zhou and Schumacher also managed to get out of the elimination zone at the very end, dropping Vettel out, along with Latifi, Magnussen, Tsunoda and Bottas... interestingly 5 drivers from 5 different teams.

In Q2 it was Hamilton who went out first but it was again Verstappen who emerged fastest. Charles Leclerc, who just like Verstappen, already knew he would have to start somewhere at the back due to engine penalties came out a bit later and set the 6th fastest time only, reporting his car "is jumping like crazy in slow corners". Though Sainz voiced no complaints, he too was a long way off of Red Bull's pace, lacking 6 tenths to both Verstappen and Perez.

Both Alpines were again showing good pace while the Mercedes were 8th and 10th after their efforts, practically quite a dangerous place to be ahead of the final few minutes in which everybody is going all out to secure a top 10 spot.

In these final few minutes, everybody but the two Red Bulls went out again. Norris and Ocon went out to provide a tow for their team mates while Leclerc sprung a surprise by going fastest of all, 0.172s quicker than Verstappen's best. Sainz on the other hand didn't improve.

Both Mercedes put themselves in the mix in 5th and 6th ahead of the Alpine duo. Norris followed and Albon made it through for Williams.

In Q3 Lerclec seemed perfectly in position to give Sainz a tow. While his track position was fine, he then asked why he was on new soft tyres. His team responded "Indeed, it's a mistake", after which they decided to do a quick lap anyway. The Ferrari driver's lap was however still just 4th fastest, behind Verstappen, Sainz and Perez.

At Alpine both drivers entered Q3 with just a single set of fresh soft tyres. To optimise their chances, the team first gave fresh tyres to Ocon with Alonso providing a tow and reversed the strategy towards the end on the second runs. Sadly for Alonso, Ocon was quite far ahead so only gained somewhat like 0.15s on the way to Les Combes whereas Leclerc's tow for Sainz resulted in the Spaniard being 0.5s up on his previous lap by the end of the straight. Anyway, it was enough for the Spaniard to go 6th and with penalties applied 3rd on the starting grid.

The Mercedes ended up in 7th and 8th, pinpointing their tyre troubles as the reason for their lack of qualifying pace. Hopeful for better race pace, Hamilton said though that being 1.8s off pole position was "a kick in the groin".


11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:44.5811:44.7231:43.6659
255Carlos SainzFerrari1:45.0501:45.4181:44.29714
311Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:45.3771:44.7941:44.46212
416Charles LeclercFerrari1:45.5721:44.5511:44.55314
531Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:46.0391:45.4751:45.18015
614Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:46.0751:45.5521:45.36816
744Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:45.7361:45.4201:45.50320
863George RussellMercedes1:45.6501:45.4611:45.77620
923Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:45.6721:45.6751:45.83718
104Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:45.7451:45.6031:46.17814
113Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:46.2121:45.7679
1210Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:46.1831:45.82712
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:46.1781:46.08512
1418Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:46.2561:46.61112
1547Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:46.3421:47.71813
165Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:46.3446
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:46.4017
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:46.5576
1922Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:46.6926
2077Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:47.8665

Starting grid

After applying numerous penalties for new power unit elements, the starting grid looks considerably different to the qualifying result.

155Carlos SainzFerrari1:44.297
211Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:44.462
314Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:45.368
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:45.503
563George RussellMercedes1:45.776
623Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:45.837
73Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:45.767
810Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Rbpt1:45.827
918Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:46.611
105Sebastian VettelAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:46.344
116Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:46.401
1220Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:46.557
1322Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Rbpt1:46.692
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:47.866
151Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Rbpt1:43.665
1616Charles LeclercFerrari1:44.553
1731Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:45.180
184Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:46.178
1924Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:46.085
2047Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:47.718

Note - Verstappen, Ocon, Norris, Leclerc, Zhou and Schumacher required to start from the back of the grid for use of additional power unit and gearbox elements. Bottas penalised 30 grid places for use of additional power unit and gearbox elements.