Max Verstappen obliterated his rivals during qualifying for Formula 1’s Belgian Grand Prix, while Charles Leclerc will move up to start Sunday’s race from pole position.

Verstappen scraped through a wet/dry Q2 in 10th place – in which he had a heated discussion with Race Engineer Gianpiero Lambiase – and was second to Leclerc after the first Q3 runs.

But as circuit conditions improved at Spa-Francorchamps Verstappen set a time of 1:46.168s to finish 0.820s clear of nearest rival Leclerc.

Verstappen will take a five-place grid drop into Sunday’s race due to exceeding his gearbox allocation and will drop to sixth position as a result.

Leclerc will consequently move up to pole position for the second time this season, with Sergio Perez set to join him from the front row of the grid.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23.
Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Friday 28th July 2023. Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

Lewis Hamilton will line up third for Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, with Verstappen set to slot in between the McLaren drivers, as Oscar Piastri out-qualified Lando Norris.

George Russell was a low-key eighth for Mercedes while Aston Martin’s regression continued as Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll finished as the slowest drivers in Q3.

The end of Q2 took place in rapidly drying conditions after the circuit improved sufficiently for slicks to be run.

Yuki Tsunoda finished 11th while Alpine had both cars out in the session on a day in which several of its senior figures were axed.

Pierre Gasly was 12th while Esteban Ocon went off through Turn 9 and damaged his A523.

Ocon was able to recover the car to the pit lane but finished as the slowest car in the session.

Kevin Magnussen also had an off-track excursion through Turn 9 en route to 13th place while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was 14th.

Williams suffered a double Q1 exit, with Alexander Albon 16th and Logan Sargeant 18th, either side of Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu, in a session which required exclusive use of Intermediates.

Daniel Ricciardo had set a time quick enough to escape Q1 but it was deleted for track limits through Raidillon and he was demoted down to 19th spot.

Nico Hulkenberg finished as the slowest of the 20 competitors for Haas after suffering a mid-session hydraulics issue that meant he was unable to start his final push lap before the chequered flag.

Saturday’s Sprint Shootout is scheduled for 12:00 local time

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