Max Verstappen dominated qualifying for the 2022 Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix setting a time almost seven tenths faster than second-placed Carlos Sainz, who will inherit pole position after the Red Bull driver received a penalty for changing components in the engine.
As the Dutchman surpassed the rest of the drivers who also had a similar sanction, he will have to start from 15th place , just ahead of his main rival in the fight for the world title, Charles Leclerc.
Historically, drivers starting from that position typically lose around ten seconds in the first two laps until the possibility of activating DRS opens up, although with a clean start Verstappen could limit the damage to Sainz and his team-mate, Sergio Perez.
The rest of the grid is surprised by the performance of the Red Bull in this first weekend after the return from the holidays, and George Russell reckons that the Dutchman will be able to “come back” and even win the race.
“I think Max [Verstappen] is going to go over the top and win quite comfortably,” he said after qualifying 2.1 seconds behind the reigning world champion. “I think him and Red Bull are way ahead of everyone, and to be honest I don’t know if Charles will [come back].”
Asked if it was possible to get a win in front of the tens of thousands of Dutch fans at Spa-Francorchamps, Max Verstappen replied: “A podium has to be the bare minimum with such a good car, it would be a shame not to.”
However, for the Mercedes driver, the chances of moving up the standings will be much slimmer, and he explained that the Brackley -based team failed to get the tires working properly, only allowing him to finish eighth, behind of his partner, Lewis Hamilton.
Due to the penalties of the two candidates for the title and Esteban Ocon’s Alpine, the Briton will start fifth, but he fears that he and the other Silver Arrows car will end up “in no man’s land”.
“I guess we should be able to get ahead of Fernando [Alonso, who starts third], and it’s very likely we’ll end up in no man’s land behind the top four, but ahead of the others,” Russell said.
“We know we don’t have a car that is two seconds off the pace, so it’s clear we didn’t do well today,” he added. “That’s a one-time thing, but still, it’s a reminder of how tough it is when you’re on pole in the last race.”
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