Max Verstappen qualified fastest for Monday’s Belgian Grand Prix but received a five-place grid penalty for taking his fifth gearbox of the season, elevating Charles Leclerc to pole.
Sergio Perez moves from the second row to start in P2, while Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz start third and fourth, respectively. McLaren’s strong run of late continues, with Oscar Piastri qualifying fifth to start next to the relegated Verstappen.
Lando Norris lines up from seventh, next to George Russell, and Aston Martin rounds out the top 10 as Fernando Alonso out-qualified teammate Lance Stroll by a full second in Q3.
Tricky conditions at Spa-Francorchamps limited competitor run times during the earlier free practice, but they would improve to see teams switch to slicks during Q2.
Q1 was undertaken mainly on intermediates following a delay of 10 minutes for the session to start. The track would continue to evolve as conditions improved, seeing times continue to tumble as the session progressed.
Nico Hulkenberg would be the first eliminated, not taking to the track for a final run as hydraulic issues hampered his Haas. Daniel Ricciardo was also knocked out after his sixth-fastest time was deleted for a track limits violation at Raidillon, relegating him to the back row in 19th.
Logan Sargeant was the other driver who struggled with the conditions, crashing out in the earlier free practice and only joining qualifying in the final stages of Q1. It was not enough to prevent his elimination, and he will start 18th. Williams’ bad luck continued when Alex Albon was also knocked out in 16th. The other driver who failed to progress to Q2 was Guanyu Zhou.
Teams began Q2 on intermediates but would switch to softs mid-way through the session. As these warmed-up times continued to tumble, and Piastri would top the run over the two Ferraris. There were nervous moments at Red Bull as Perez and Verstappen were left languishing in seventh and tenth, respectively, only just surviving.
Yuki Tsunoda was the first knocked out in 11th and was joined by Pierre Gasly (12th), Kevin Magnussen (13th), Valtteri Bottas (14th) and Esteban Ocon (15th) in the bottom five of Q2. Magnussen and Ocon would run into problems during their runs, the former spinning into the gravel at Turn 9 while the latter hit the wall at the same corner, damaging his front wing.
Marshals were left to clean up the gravel from Magnussen’s off in Q2, which delayed the start of the final session. Both drivers from each Red Bull, Ferrari, Aston Martin, McLaren and Mercedes made up the top 10.
Verstappen’s 1:46.168 was the best time of the day and was set late in Q3, topping Leclerc by eight-tenths of a second. Just 0.42 seconds separated Perez and Hamilton, and Sainz was only a further 0.065 behind that.
Piastri would out-qualify him McLaren teammate to the tune of three-tenths.
The Belgian Grand Prix begins at 1.00 am on Monday and will be shown live on Sky Sport. Tonight’s action includes a further qualifying run for the sprint race, with the Sprint beginning at 2.30 am tomorrow morning.
Header Image: Scuderia Ferrari