Although Verstappen clocked the quickest time during the qualifiers, he has been penalized with a five-place grid drop for overuse of gearbox elements this season, consequently placing Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the pole position.
The Red Bull driver outperformed Leclerc by 0.820 seconds on the gradually drying track, while Leclerc barely outpaced the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez by 0.057secs. Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was the fourth quickest, with Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
Despite the weather playing a crucial role in the day, the feared impact on qualifying due to potentially decreased visibility from the wet conditions was avoided as the rain stopped about an hour prior to the session, enabling the track to dry progressively.
Considering his outstanding performance along with Red Bull’s, Verstappen is projected to win the race starting from the sixth position on the grid, regardless of the weather.
Leclerc’s second pole position of 2023 offers a significant lift for the Monaco-born driver, who was Verstappen’s fiercest competitor for the title last year. Despite a less than stellar season due to Ferrari’s underperformance, Leclerc remains undeterred.
Leclerc’s pole position is particularly satisfying given his previous struggles under similar damp conditions in the Spain, Canada, and Austria races. He recognized and addressed this issue to improve his performance.
“We went slightly early [for the final run],” he admitted. “Although pole was unachievable, we could have been closer. Let’s see how things unfold.”
Despite a near elimination in the second knockout session and a radio dispute with his engineer, Verstappen remains confident about his performance. “To be on pole again, even though I must step back due to the penalty, was the best I could do today.”
McLaren’s Piastri demonstrated commendable performance, outdoing teammate Norris. In contrast, Mercedes’ George Russell expressed disappointment with his eighth position on the grid despite the team’s recent aerodynamic upgrade.
Hamilton narrowly avoided a penalty after a close encounter with Russell but was cleared of any wrongdoing by the stewards.
The Aston Martins ended up in ninth and 10th positions, reflecting their recent slump in form, while Alpha Tauri’s Daniel Ricciardo will start 19th due to his lap being invalidated for exceeding track limits.
Williams’ Alex Albon, ranked 16th, likely suffered due to the damp conditions favoring downforce over efficiency required for the dry Spa circuit.
Here’s how to follow the Belgian Grand Prix on the BBC:
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- Florence Pugh’s exclusive interview: The Oppenheimer star reflects on her stellar career
- Give your brain a challenge: Check out these entertaining quizzes for a test of your problem-solving skills
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Belgian Grand Prix
Who has secured the pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix?
Charles Leclerc has secured the pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Why is Charles Leclerc starting in pole position instead of Max Verstappen?
Max Verstappen, although initially clocking the fastest time during the qualifiers, received a five-place grid penalty for overusing gearbox components in this season. As a result, Charles Leclerc is set to start from the pole position.
Who was the second quickest driver after Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen?
The second quickest driver was Sergio Perez from Red Bull, who was outpaced by Leclerc by just 0.057 seconds.
What position is Lewis Hamilton starting from in the Belgian Grand Prix?
Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes is starting from the fourth position in the Belgian Grand Prix.
How did the weather conditions impact the qualifiers?
Although the weather played a crucial role, with rain threatening to affect visibility, the rain stopped about an hour prior to the session. The track progressively dried out, allowing the qualifiers to proceed without significant weather-related disruptions.
What has been Verstappen’s performance so far this season?
Verstappen’s performance has been superior so far this season, leading many to project him as the winner of the race despite starting from the sixth position on the grid.
How has Charles Leclerc performed in previous races under similar weather conditions?
In previous races in Spain, Canada, and Austria with similar damp conditions, Leclerc struggled. However, after recognizing the problem, he worked on improving his performance in such conditions.