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".
|1||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:44.581||1:44.723||1:43.665||9|
|3||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:45.377||1:44.794||1:44.462||12|
|5||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:46.039||1:45.475||1:45.180||15|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:46.075||1:45.552||1:45.368||16|
|9||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:45.672||1:45.675||1:45.837||18|
|10||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:45.745||1:45.603||1:46.178||14|
|11||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:46.212||1:45.767||9|
|12||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:46.183||1:45.827||12|
|13||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:46.178||1:46.085||12|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:46.256||1:46.611||12|
|15||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:46.342||1:47.718||13|
|16||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:46.344||6|
|17||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:46.401||7|
|18||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:46.557||6|
|19||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:46.692||6|
|20||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:47.866||5|
After applying numerous penalties for new power unit elements, the starting grid looks considerably different to the qualifying result.
|2||11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:44.462|
|3||14||Fernando Alonso||Alpine Renault||1:45.368|
|6||23||Alexander Albon||Williams Mercedes||1:45.837|
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Mclaren Mercedes||1:45.767|
|8||10||Pierre Gasly||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:45.827|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:46.611|
|10||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes||1:46.344|
|11||6||Nicholas Latifi||Williams Mercedes||1:46.401|
|12||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:46.557|
|13||22||Yuki Tsunoda||Alphatauri Rbpt||1:46.692|
|14||77||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:47.866|
|15||1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing Rbpt||1:43.665|
|17||31||Esteban Ocon||Alpine Renault||1:45.180|
|18||4||Lando Norris||Mclaren Mercedes||1:46.178|
|19||24||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:46.085|
|20||47||Mick Schumacher||Haas Ferrari||1:47.718|