(L to R): Carlos Sainz Jr, Ferrari; Max Verstappen, Red Bull; Sergio Perez, Red Bull; Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Verstappen dominates Belgian GP qualifying but penalties hand pole to Sainz

2022 Belgian Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen was quickest in qualifying at Spa but his grid penalty means Carlos Sainz Jnr will start from pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver’s best time of a 1’43.665 was easily fast enough for him to end Q3 quickest by six tenths of a second, but power unit penalty will demote him to 15th on the grid for the race. Sergio Perez will start alongside Sainz on the front row, with Fernando Alonso behind them in third.

Charles Leclerc will begin the race directly behind Verstappen in 16th position after he managed the fourth-fastest time in the final session of qualifying.

Q1

The start of the first session of qualifying was delayed due to an accident at Fagnes at the end of the Porsche Supercup qualifying session that left the barriers in need of repair. When the session eventually started 25 minutes late, a clear, dry track awaited drivers with air temperature at a cool 15C.

Nicholas Latifi was the first driver out on track, but he returned to the pit lane immediately. Lewis Hamilton was the first of the front-runners to set a time, setting a 1’46.703 which was easily beaten by his team mate. The Red Bulls and Ferraris also took to the track, with Max Verstappen instantly setting the fastest time of the weekend with a 1’44.581, half a second ahead of Carlos Sainz Jnr in and eight tenths quicker than team mate Sergio Perez.

The Red Bull pair and Sainz pitted after a single flying lap, while Charles Leclerc and the two Mercedes drivers remained out for a second hot lap. George Russell could only manage tenth, while Lewis Hamilton was 11th after their first run.

After a brief lull, cars began to venture out for a second run with four minutes remaining. The two Alfa Romeos of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas were at the bottom of the times, with Mick Schumacher, Nicholas Latifi and Lance Stroll set to be eliminated from the session, while Yuki Tsunoda was the first driver at risk of being knocked into the drop zone. Both Mercedes headed back out onto the track, while Red Bull and Ferrari chose to keep their cars in the garage for the final minutes.

Latifi was the first across the line, moving up to 13th, with Stroll also going safe in 10th. Zhou improved, knocking Alexander Albon into the drop zone, while Latifi also fell back to 17th and out of the session. However Albon shot up to sixth place, splitting the Mercedes pair, securing his place in Q2. Kevin Magnussen and Sebastian Vettel therefore fell into danger as neither of them improved by enough on their final laps to go safe.

That meant that Vettel was the first driver eliminated, by a mere two-thousandths of a second, with Latifi also failing to progress. Magnussen could not get through and was eliminated in 18th, while Tsunoda locked up at the final chicane on his final lap and was out in 19th. Valtteri Bottas was the final driver out in 20th, but as things stand is set to start from at 14th place due to the grid penalties his rivals have collected this weekend.

Q1 result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’44.5813
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’45.0500.4693
311Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’45.3770.7963
416Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’45.5720.9914
563George RussellMercedesW131’45.6501.0698
623Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’45.6721.0916
744Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’45.7361.1558
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’45.7451.1646
931Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’46.0391.4585
1014Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’46.0751.4945
1124Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’46.1781.5976
1210Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’46.1831.6026
133Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’46.2121.6316
1418Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’46.2561.6756
1547Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’46.3421.7618
165Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’46.3441.7636
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’46.4011.8207
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’46.5571.9766
1922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’46.6922.1116
2077Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’47.8663.2855

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Q2

Mercedes sent both their cars out onto the circuit straight away as the second phase of qualifying began, with Verstappen, Sainz and Perez following behind. All four took to the track on a used set of softs, except for Perez who took a fresh set for his first run in Q2.

Hamilton’s first lap of a 1’46.662 was quickly beaten by Russell, before Verstappen went a second-and-a-half faster to easily go quickest. Despite his fresher tyres, Perez was almost a tenth of a second slower than his team mate, while Sainz’s first lap was only good enough for third, almost seven tenths behind Verstappen.

Leclerc made his first run after his rivals, but despite a slipstream from his team mate, he could only manage sixth with his first timed lap. The Ferrari driver ended upalmost a second slower than Verstappen, while complaining of his car bouncing in slower corners.

The track fell silent as drivers recovered to the pit lane. Daniel Ricciardo was bottom of the times having not set a flying lap in the first half of the session, with Schumacher, Stroll, Zhou and Albon sat in the drop zone as the clocked ticked to under five minutes remaining.

It took until just over three minutes left for the drivers to take to the track, with only the two Red Bulls remaining in the garage. McLaren and Alpine both set themselves up to arrange slipstreams for their cars, Esteban Ocon giving Fernando Alonso a tow down the Kemmel Straight and Lando Norris providing the same service for Ricciardo.

Zhou improved to ninth to push Hamilton into the drop zone, with Ricciardo taking advantage of a tow to temporarily go safe. However, Hamilton and Russell improved to go fifth and sixth respectively, as did Albon, who set purple mini-sectors on his final run to squeeze into the top ten in tenth.

That meant that Ricciardo fell out in 11th place, while Gasly also dropped out in 12th. Zhou was 13th and eliminated, with Stroll and Schumacher the last drivers to be eliminated in the second session.

Q2 result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’44.55110
21Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’44.7230.1726
311Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’44.7940.2436
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’45.4180.8678
544Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’45.4200.86914
663George RussellMercedesW131’45.4610.91014
731Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’45.4750.92410
814Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’45.5521.00111
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’45.6031.05211
1023Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’45.6751.12412
113Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’45.7671.2169
1210Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’45.8271.27612
1324Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’46.0851.53412
1418Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’46.6112.06012
1547Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’47.7183.16713

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Q3

The battle for pole position was an unusual one, with two of the main protagonists due to start from the back of the grid due to their penalties. Nonetheless they and their team mates headed out to contest Q3, the two Red Bulls leaving first, Perez ahead Verstappen.

Perez’s first time was a 1’44.462, which was blitzed by his team mate by seven tenths of a second. Sainz had the benefit of a tow from team mate Leclerc but his first time was still six tenths slower than the championship leader. It was then Leclerc’s turn to put in his first lap, but he was told by his Ferrari team that they had accidentally given him a used set of soft tyres. Despite the lack of fresh rubber, Leclerc still went fourth-fastest.

For the final runs, Verstappen remained in the pit lane, leaving Perez to take his final run without a tow. Sainz began his final timed effort with his team mate emerging from the pit lane in front of him, allowing him the benefit of a slipstream through the Kemmel Straight. However, a poor first sector and a mistake exiting Fagnes meant Sainz did not improve on his final effort.

Perez was not able to take advantage of Sainz’s mistake and remained third. Verstappen therefore ended the session quickest, meaning he will start from 15th on the grid for tomorrow’s race, with Sainz gaining pole position and Perez alongside him on the front row.

Leclerc finished the session in fourth, meaning he will start from 16th on the grid next to Verstappen. Alonso will start third, ahead of the two Mercedes of Hamilton and Russell who ended the session seventh and eighth in the times. Albon was ninth quickest in the session, meaning that he will start from sixth on the grid.

Ricciardo, Gasly, Stroll and Vettel will all move into the top 10 on the grid courtesy of penalties ahead.

Q3 result

PositionNumberDriverTeamModelTimeGapLaps
155Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’44.29714
211Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’44.4620.16512
314Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’45.3681.07116
444Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’45.5031.20620
563George RussellMercedesW131’45.7761.47920
623Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’45.8371.54018
73Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’45.7671.4709
810Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’45.8271.53012
918Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’46.6112.31412
105Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’46.3442.0476

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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16 comments on “Verstappen dominates Belgian GP qualifying but penalties hand pole to Sainz”

  1. Mercedes are now the slowest works team in Formula 1, having been out-qualified by both Red Bulls, both Ferrari, and both Alpines today.

    And this after first instigating a mid-season rules change and then finding themselves the only team bringing a new floor to this race.

    Which can only mean one thing: Their car concept is perfect. Their engine is perfect. And everyone else is cheating, somehow.

    1. Yes, that looked pretty bad, disappointing.

    2. Could you explain what exactly a “works team” is in modern Formula One? And how does Red Bull count as a works team?

      1. A works team is a constructor with direct backing from the manufacturer of their PU. In 2022, the four works teams in Formula 1, in descending order of speed in yesterday’s qualifying, are:

        Reb Bull Racing – Red Bull Power Trains / HRC
        Ferrari – Ferrari
        Alpine – Renault
        Mercedes AMG – Mercedes

  2. Annoyed by TV crew again.. Too much close up in the final chicane, completely ruining the shot(s). Sometime we got a nice slide, or a driver trying to put the power down, struggling. Most of the time we got random pieces of bodywork full screen with no sense of motion..
    Then we have a battle going on for first place between Sainz and Perez. We get all the times on screen from everyone… except Perez. This wasn’t rocket science, right?

    Ferrari being Ferrari, okay, you could expect that. But why no tow for Perez. Were RBR too confident? I didn’t see why Perez couldn’t beat Sainz in the final attempt. Did he bottle it?

    1. The final chicane camera position is indeed rather bad. The car doesn’t even fit into the frame, and it’s hard to see what’s going on.

      Red Bull didn’t care to help Pérez because, well… he’s not Verstappen. Pérez also did himself no favours by just being slow, almost 8 tenths behind the other Red Bull. He should have been ahead of Sainz quite comfortably. As it stands, it seems Verstappen has a better chance at winning from 15th than Pérez does from 2nd.

      1. @MichaelN
        The statement about RBR not wanting to help is ridiculous.

        I haven’t seen a properly executed tow. Alpine didn’t get it together. Ferrari initially seemed to pull it off, but of course they didn’t. Sainz was nowhere on those cold tires.

        A lot will depend on the first corner tomorrow. Without being able to abort the track and avoid the carnage while continuing full power, I suspect more cars will have damage and the cars at the back that don’t get involved will be held up far more. So more damage and more field spread.

  3. Tsunoda and Perez at this point are just embarrassing. With the car pace, Perez should easily get Sainz tomorrow, but other than that meh. He has no more excuse since this year’s car does not look too pointy or oversteery.

    1. Well, perez was one of those drivers who did well in the midfield and never got a chance at a top team, so now finally we’ve been able to tell for sure if he was overlooked or simply not a top driver. I don’t think he’s the only one who would take that gap from verstappen.

  4. La Source with gravel runoff will be more critical than before, while Checo could pull a Seb 2013 & ’18.

    1. @jerejj
      Checo could also pull a Checo ’17 …..

  5. Fake showbiz pole, not worth watching, but well done Williams.

    1. I liked it actually, usually drivers don’t push that much to the end when they start from the back anyway.

  6. I think a lot of the casual viewers of F1 will get the wrong idea from the way qualifying was reported. It sounds like Verstappen had a dominant pole but then lost it due to penalties so Sainz won pole on a technicality. Truth is, that new engine probably helped Max achieve a lot of that extra speed to make it look more dominant. Sainz won pole quite legitimately. Today, the Ferrari was the best car in qualifying.

    1. Don’t agree, sainz barely beat perez, verstappen would’ve got pole by a countrymile even without new engine, but yes, maybe by a few tenths less.

Comments are closed.