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Max Verstappen was fastest in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix by over eight tenths, but it will be Charles Leclerc who lines up on pole Sunday. With Verstappen dropping five places because of a gearbox-swap penalty, Leclerc secured his 20th career pole.
F1 Belgium Qualifying: Who Will be on Pole?
Charles Leclerc will be on pole for the Belgian Grand Prix. The Ferrari driver was second-fastest in Q3, just over eight tenths down on Max Verstappen. But with the Dutchman picking up a five-place grid drop for a gearbox change, Leclerc will line up on pole Sunday. He will lead Sergio Perez on the front row, while Verstappen will line up sixth.
Q1: Leclerc Leads, Heartbreak for Ricciardo
After the 10-minute delay, qualifying got underway on a damp track. All drivers immediately went out, anticipating a potential shower halfway through the session. Fortunately, those fears did not materialize, and the first part of qualifying ran without trouble, surprisingly.
Hamilton was the first driver out on track. Naturally, times continued to drop with every car that went across the line. Alexander Albon ended the first set of runs on top, but was quickly demoted during the second run. Verstappen was noted for having impeded the Williams driver into Bus Stop, but race control ultimately waived the report. Charles Leclerc, needing to escpae the cutoff, went top on his final attempt with a 1:58.300.
Daniel Ricciardo briefly got himself into a Q2 transfer spot by going sixth fastest, but then had his laptime deleted for a track limits infrigement exiting Raidillon. As a result, the AlphaTauri returnee was eliminated, down in 19th place. Joining him were early session leader Albon, Zhou Guanyu, Logan Sargeant and Nico Hulkenberg.
Q2: Piastri on Top, Verstappen Escapes Drama to Squeeze Through
The sun came out at the start of Q2, and a dry line started to emerge. Hamilton was once again the first driver to head out. Verstappen led the first run with a significantly quicker 1:55.535, followed by Perez and Leclerc. Lando Norris was the only driver not to set a time in the first run.
Most drivers decided that the track was at the crossover point and switched to slicks for the second run, with Valtteri Bottas leading the way. Esteban Ocon ran into trouble as he slid across Speaker’s Corner and hit the wall with his front wing. The Frenchman picked up some significant damage and had to pit for a new nose, effectively ending his session.
Times tumbled again during the second run. Verstappen found himself in an unusual circumstances, down in 11th. Having had his laptime deleted, the Dutchman was down in 11th. With a poor lap following a moment through Speaker’s Corner, Verstappen could only manage the ninth-fastest in his second attempt. That quickly became 10th seconds later, putting the two-time champion at risk. Despite the scare, the championship leader secured the final transfer spot with over three tenths in hand from Yuki Tsunoda.
Q3: Verstappen on Top, Pole for Leclerc
Through the first run, Leclerc impressed with a 1:47.931 to go faster than Verstappen and put Ferrari on provisional pole.
The Dutchman wasn’t do be denied, however. In his second attempt, the two-time champion smashed the clock with a 1:46.168s to go fastest by 0.82s. With a 1:46.988s, Leclerc effectively secured pole position, as Verstappen will drop to sixth. Perez squeezed into second place at the end, with Hamilton, Sainz and Piastri rounding out the top 5 for Sunday.
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