Sainz profits from Verstappen penalty to secure pole for Belgian Grand Prix

By Sports Desk August 27, 2022

Carlos Sainz profited from Max Verstappen's grid penalty to secure pole for the Belgian Grand Prix but admitted to being concerned by the gap between Ferrari and Red Bull.

Verstappen topped the timesheet in Saturday's delayed qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the first race following the mid-season break.

But the reigning champion – who holds an 80-point lead over Charles Leclerc at the top of the standings – will start in 15th after being penalised for using too many engine parts.

The Dutchman is one of seven drivers taking grid penalties, along with Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Zhou Guanyu, Mick Schumacher and Valtteri Bottas.

That effectively meant the rest of field were facing off for the top 13 positions on the grid, and it was Ferrari driver Sainz who will will start Sunday's race at the head of the pack.

Whereas Verstappen looked comfortable throughout and delivered a time of 1:43.665 seconds with his first Q3 flying lap, Sainz's Q3 lap was rather scrappy.

Despite claiming pole, the Spaniard – who is fifth in the standings – was not entirely pleased with how things played out.

"I'm happy to be starting on pole, but I'm obviously not so happy to see the gap to Max this weekend and the gap Red Bull have on us," he told Sky Sports.

"We need to keep digging to see why Red Bull are so fast around this track. But to start from pole is good and we will try to win tomorrow.

"I think our race pace is better than our qualifying pace, but there is still something to find."

The past seven winners of the Belgian Grand Prix have started from the front row of the grid, six of them from pole.

But after finishing 0.632s clear of the field in qualifying, Verstappen – last year's winner on this track – is hopeful of climbing from towards the back of the pack into the top three.

"It was an amazing qualifying but the whole weekend we have been really on it," he said. "With a car like this it would be a shame to not be on the podium.

"The car has been working really well and we have basically been trying to fine tune it and it all came together in Qualifying.

"Of course, I had to be careful with the amount of tyres I was using, but I was very happy with my lap. It is an amazing track with amazing fans and I hope they had a good day."

Verstappen is set to start one place ahead of title rival Leclerc, while team-mate Sergio Perez is second after finishing 0.165s behind Sainz.

Fernando Alonso, who is on his best run since 2018 after collecting points in each of his past eight races, is third ahead of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

Red Bull are seeking a fifth win in Belgium – only in Mexico (six) would they have more – with Perez looking to overhaul Sainz.

"P2 is not the worst place to be around here and I think if I am able to get a good run at Carlos, it will be different and I will be on the other side of the row," Perez said.

"I am looking forward to tomorrow and I think there will be a great race ahead of us. It'll be very important to get a good start and do our own race and I think that will be the key."

Related items

  • Lewis Hamilton: I am writing my story and it was time to start a new chapter Lewis Hamilton: I am writing my story and it was time to start a new chapter

    Lewis Hamilton said he chose to turn his back on Mercedes and join rivals Ferrari to write “a new chapter” in his record-breaking career.

    The seven-time world champion was speaking for the first time at length since his shock blockbuster move to the Italian giants in 2025 was confirmed earlier this month.

    Hamilton’s soon-to-be Ferrari team led the way on the concluding day of this week’s test in Bahrain, with Charles Leclerc seeing off Mercedes’ George Russell by just 0.046 seconds.

    But it is Max Verstappen’s Red Bull team who head into next Saturday’s curtain raiser, also in the Gulf kingdom, as the favourites, despite the ongoing investigation into their embattled team principal Christian Horner. Horner continues to deny the claims against him.

    Hamilton, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, signed a two-year contract extension with the Silver Arrows only last August.

    But over the winter he elected to terminate his £100million deal 12 months early to make the switch.

    “Obviously in the summer we signed and at that time I saw my future with Mercedes,” Hamilton explained. “But an opportunity came up in the new year and I decided to take it.

    “I feel like it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I have had a relationship with Mercedes since I was 13. They have supported me and we have had an incredible journey together and created history within the sport. It is something I take a lot of pride in.

    “But ultimately I am writing my story and I felt like it was time to start a new chapter.”

    Mercedes have carried Hamilton to six of his record-equalling seven titles.

    But last year marked a second straight season without a victory for the British driver – a losing streak which now stands at 45 races – and Mercedes’ first winless campaign in a dozen years.

    Ferrari have not won a drivers’ championship since Kimi Raikkonen triumphed for them in 2007.

    And two decades will have passed since Michael Schumacher took his fifth consecutive title for the team in 2004 when Hamilton links up with Ferrari at the start of next year.

    “All of us sit in our garages and you see the screen pop up, you see a driver in the red cockpit and you wonder what it will be like to be surrounded by the red,” added Hamilton.

    “You go to the Italian Grand Prix and you see the sea of red of Ferrari fans and you can only stand in awe of that.

    “It is a team that has not had huge success since Michael’s days and I see it as a huge challenge.

    “As a kid I used to to play the Grand Prix 2 computer game as Michael in that (Ferrari) car. It is definitely a dream and I am really excited about it.”

    Hamilton said the biggest transfer in F1 history would not have happened if Fred Vasseur – the Frenchman who played a prominent role in his formative career – had not been appointed as Ferrari team principal last year.

    Hamilton continued: “I have got a great relationship with Fred. I raced for him in Formula Three and we had amazing success in Formula Three and GP2 and that is where the foundation of our relationship started.

    “We always remained in touch. I thought he was going to be an amazing team manager at some stage and progress to Formula One. It was really cool to see him at Alfa Romeo and when he got the job at Ferrari I was just so happy for him. The stars aligned and it would not have happened without him.”

    As for learning the lingo, the Stevenage-born racer, added: “In all these years I have not managed to learn other languages, but I will definitely try. I do remember when I was younger and karting in Italy I was able to pick up a few lines. Hopefully that will come back to me.”

    Ferrari might have finished on top on Friday, but the consensus in the paddock is that Red Bull have significantly improved the machine which won all bar one of the 22 rounds last year.

    “Our car is more enjoyable to drive and it is an improvement,” said Hamilton. “But we still have some time to find. Red Bull are out in the distance.”

    Ominously, Verstappen, bidding to win his fourth straight title, said: “For sure, the car is better than it was last year.”

  • Lewis Hamilton determined to write ‘new chapter’ with Ferrari Lewis Hamilton determined to write ‘new chapter’ with Ferrari

    Lewis Hamilton said his Mercedes exit to join Ferrari is because he believes it is time to write “a new chapter” in his record-breaking career.

    Hamilton was speaking for the first time at length since his blockbuster move to the Italian giants in 2025 was confirmed earlier this month.

    The 39-year-old, who joined Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, signed a two-year contract extension only last August.

    But over the winter he elected to terminate his £100million deal 12 months early to make the switch.

    “Obviously in the summer we signed and at that time I saw my future with Mercedes,” said Hamilton as he opened up on his decision to make the move to Ferrari.

    “But an opportunity came up in the New Year and I decided to take it. I feel like it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make.

    “I have had a relationship with Mercedes since I was 13. They have supported me, and we have had an incredible journey together, created history within the sport and it is something I take a lot of pride in.

    “But ultimately I am writing my story, and I felt like it was time to start a new chapter.”

  • Red Bull boss Christian Horner wants his future resolved ‘as soon as possible’ Red Bull boss Christian Horner wants his future resolved ‘as soon as possible’

    Christian Horner wants his Red Bull future to be resolved “as soon as possible” as the embattled team principal fights to save his Formula One career.

    Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner is being investigated following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner denies the claim.

    Horner addressed the media alongside four other F1 team principals on the second day of this week’s three-day test in Bahrain on Thursday. The new season starts in the Gulf kingdom next Saturday.

    Asked why he has not moved aside as team principal and chief executive of Red Bull Racing with the investigation under way, Horner replied: “As you are well aware there is a process going on which I form part of, and as I form part of that process, I am afraid I cannot comment on it.”

    Horner was then asked if he could provided a timeline as to when the investigation might be over.

    The 50-year-old added: “I am dreadfully sorry but I really can’t comment on the process or the timescale.

    “Everybody would like a conclusion as soon as possible. But I am really not at liberty to comment about the process.”

    Sources have indicated to the PA news agency that there could be a resolution before the opening race on March 2.

    On Wednesday, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called for Red Bull’s probe to be transparent, and said the controversy is “an issue for all of Formula One”.

    McLaren chief executive Zak Brown, speaking in the same press conference as Horner on Thursday, echoed Wolff’s comments.

    “The allegations are extremely serious,” said Brown. “McLaren hold themselves to the highest standards of diversity, equality and inclusion.

    “These are extremely important to us and our partners, and to everyone in Formula One.

    “Red Bull Corporation has launched an investigation, and all we hope and assume is that it will be handled in a very transparent way, and as the FIA and Formula One has said, swiftly, because these are not the headlines that Formula One wants or needs at this time.”

    Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races last year as Max Verstappen stormed to the world championship.

    The Dutch driver, in his heavily upgraded machine, set an impressive pace on the opening day in Bahrain, finishing 1.1 seconds clear of anyone else.

    Mercedes’ George Russell said: “Red Bull are definitely the favourites and definitely a step ahead of everyone here in Bahrain. They have had an impressive winter, no doubt.

    “Hopefully Red Bull are already in that sweet spot, and we can close the gap, but it is going to take a lot of hard work to do so.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.