Verstappen takes Belgian GP pole but starts 6th after penalty

SPA, BELGIUM - JULY 28: Pole position qualifier Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on July 28, 2023 in Spa, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202307280599 // Usage for editorial use only //

The qualifying session for Sunday’s FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix was a damp and drying affair. Q1 and Q2 were spent tracking the cross-over point from Intermediate tires to Soft compounds and this left Q3 a full-speed attack for pole position.

The continually drying Spa Francorchamps Circuit meant that the final laps would be the fastest laps but perhaps the talking points from the session were centered around Ferrari’s resurgent pace with Charles Leclerc putting his car in second behind Max Verstappen’s pole-winning Red Bull. Sergio Perez managed to drag his Red Bull car up to third for Sunday’s race.

Sunday gets a little more interesting with a 5-place grid penalty for Max who will now start down in 6th leaving Leclerc at the front row with Sergio Perez next to him. As disappointing as a grid penalty for changing a gearbox can be, Max’s pole lap on Saturday was eight tenths quicker than Charles so clearly marching back through the field is a very realistic scenario for Verstappen.

Belgian GP Qualifying:

11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:58.5151:52.7841:46.16822
216Charles LeclercFERRARI1:58.3001:52.0171:46.98823
311Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:58.8991:52.3531:47.04522
444Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:58.5631:52.3451:47.08724
555Carlos SainzFERRARI1:58.6881:51.7111:47.15223
681Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES1:58.8721:51.5341:47.36523
74Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:59.9811:52.2521:47.66921
863George RussellMERCEDES1:59.0351:52.6051:47.80524
914Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:58.8341:52.7511:47.84322
1018Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:59.6631:52.1931:48.84122
1122Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT1:59.0441:53.14815
1210Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT1:59.5111:53.67117
1320Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI2:00.0201:54.16017
1477Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI1:59.4841:54.69417
1531Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:59.6341:56.37213
1623Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES2:00.3148
1724Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI2:00.8329
182Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES2:01.5356
193Daniel RicciardoALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT2:02.1598
2027Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI2:03.1665
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