Verstappen Survives Wet Qualifying Challenge but Faces Grid Penalty in Belgian GP

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Max Verstappen demonstrated his prowess during Friday’s qualifying session at Spa-Francorchamps, setting the fastest time. However, his impressive achievement will only grant him a sixth-place start on the grid due to a gearbox penalty. He left Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc trailing by a significant eight tenths at the end of Q3.

Yet, Verstappen’s path to the top 10 shootout was perilous, as he narrowly escaped elimination in the wet conditions of Q2. A disagreement with his Red Bull race engineer, Gianpiero Lambiase, led to a heated exchange, though the reigning champion later apologized for his outburst.

Reflecting on the challenging conditions, Verstappen acknowledged, “It was very tight. Of course, the conditions are very tricky, the track was really drying quickly. And yeah, my final lap, I just didn’t have that confidence in Q2 to push more. And I was very lucky to be in P10.”

As Q3 unfolded, the track continued to dry rapidly, prompting all drivers to switch to soft slick tires. Verstappen, on his second set of tires, found the confidence to surpass Leclerc’s benchmark in the closing moments. Nevertheless, due to his penalty, Leclerc will inherit the official pole position.

Verstappen elaborated, “Of course, in Q3, you have two tire sets, you know that you can push a little bit more, you can risk a little bit more. And that’s what we did on that final lap. To be on pole again, I know that I have to drop back on Sunday with the penalty I have, but it was the best I could do today.”

Despite the grid penalty, Verstappen remains optimistic, drawing on last year’s experience when he faced similar challenges but still managed to win the race comfortably from the 14th position on the grid. Red Bull’s dominant performance in 2023 makes him the clear favorite to secure his third consecutive Belgian Grand Prix victory.

Verstappen affirmed, “Last year I had more penalties, and we could still win the race, so that’s still the target on Sunday.”

In summary, Verstappen showcased his skill in navigating the tricky wet conditions during qualifying but must now contend with a grid penalty for the race. Despite this setback, his remarkable form puts him in a strong position to claim another victory at the Belgian Grand Prix, as he remains determined to fight for the win on Sunday.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Grid penalty

Q: What was Max Verstappen’s performance in the Belgian GP F1 qualifying?

A: Max Verstappen showcased impressive performance during the Belgian GP F1 qualifying, setting the fastest time in Friday’s session at Spa-Francorchamps. However, due to a gearbox penalty, he will start from sixth on the grid.

Q: How close was Verstappen to being eliminated in Q2?

A: Verstappen came dangerously close to being eliminated in Q2, as the wet conditions posed a challenge. He narrowly dodged elimination and secured the 10th position to move into the top 10 shootout.

Q: How did Verstappen’s qualifying run differ in Q3?

A: In Q3, Verstappen switched to soft slick tires and found the confidence to outperform Charles Leclerc’s benchmark in the final seconds. Nevertheless, due to the grid penalty, Leclerc will take the official pole position.

Q: What impact will the grid penalty have on Verstappen’s race?

A: The grid penalty will force Verstappen to start the race from a lower position, despite qualifying well. However, given Red Bull’s dominant pace, he remains a favorite to secure victory in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Q: How did Verstappen perform in last year’s race with a penalty?

A: Last year, Verstappen faced a similar situation with more penalties but still managed to win the race convincingly from the 14th position on the grid, showcasing his skill and determination.

Q: What is Verstappen’s outlook for the race on Sunday?

A: Despite the grid penalty, Verstappen is optimistic about his chances, aiming for victory once again. Red Bull’s dominant form reinforces his determination to perform well in the Belgian Grand Prix.

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