F1 GP Belgium 2023, Verstappen flies but for pole penalty to Leclerc with Ferrari

Five positions less for gearbox replacement

Max Verstappen on Red Bull sets the best time (1’46”168) in qualifying for the Belgian GP, on the Spa track, but relegated to sixth position due to a gearbox replacement. Pole position goes to Charles Leclerc (1’46”988), who will start in front of everyone. In the front row, the Monegasque’s Ferrari will be joined by Mexican Sergio Perez’s Red Bull. Third and fourth time, in the second row, for the Mercedes of the Englishman Lewis Hamilton and for the other Ferrari of the Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

Leclerc hits the second pole of the season and the twentieth of his career thanks to the decision taken by Red Bull. The world champion team decides to replace Verstappen’s gearbox, who becomes the first driver to exceed the limit of 4 substitutions and to incur a penalty. However, the Dutchman’s pace demonstrates that the team’s decision was not a gamble. In the flying lap, the world champion beat Ferrari by 8/10: on a track like Spa, which guarantees several overtaking opportunities, the Dutchman won’t even need an ‘epic’ comeback on Sunday to take first place. In 2022, moreover, Verstappen was able to win in Belgium starting from 14th position.