It is not a pole position for Verstappen because he has a five-place penalty for changing the gearbox (it had been planned for weeks) and he will start sixth. In fact, the pole is Leclerc’s; accompanied in the first row by Pérez and seconded behind by Hamilton and Sainz. But the final lap of the Dutchman was simply beastly on a complex asphalt, which dried up every minute, and he put eight tenths of a second behind at the decisive moment. In addition, the race is on Sunday, so it does not seem that Friday at Spa-Francorchamps deserves another protagonist. Mad Max He reminded everyone, on the asphalt, on the radio and wherever, that he leads, dominates and destroys on his own merits. The Red Bull is a rocket, but the pilot is unquestionable. Well, for everyone but your own track engineer.
And it is that the Dutchman took a curious grudge. Now that everything is going his way every day, he finds it somewhat amusing that the record holder gets a cut from his track engineer over the radio. It was at the end of Q2 that Verstappen narrowly overtook from tenth position. The Dutchman protested the planning of the last minutes, he asked for two consecutive fast laps and apparently the wall prepared only one for him, but to use up the batteries completely. Max didn’t like the plan and Giampiero Lambiase, His engineer and Red Bull’s head of track operations made the comment ugly.
“We should have pushed two laps in a row, like I said,” the driver began. The Italian responded: “But you’ve passed, Max.” And Verstappen’s complaint came: “Yeah, but I don’t give a shit about passing if I’m tenth, it’s a shit execution.” Without losing his nerve, Lambiase closed the dialogue: “Okay, so when the track improves two seconds for your final lap and you have no energy left, what would have happened? Can you tell me now what you want to do in Q3? sets (of tires), gasoline, preparation lap…”. There was no response then, or at least not issued. He arrived at the end of Q3 with that stratospheric lap on asphalt that got better and better: “Sorry GP (that’s what they call it) for speaking ill.” “I’m getting used to it, Max,” GP joked. He will start sixth, but he aspires “to win the race”. “Last year I started 14th and won, so…”, he recalls.
Second row for Sainz, fifth car for Alonso
Behind, in that other league that Toto Wolff calls Formula 2, Leclerc flew eight tenths behind Red Bull and will start from the first position on Sunday. This Saturday there is a sprint, but that grid will be set up in the morning. You will be accompanied by Czech and Sir Lewis in the virtual top-3, without the real first. Sainz will start fourth, he also fought for that pole position and finished ten and a half behind his teammate after spending the whole afternoon at the level. The problem is that two cars have slipped between them.
Alonso did what he could with the fifth car and He will start ninth behind Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren. The arithmetic is simple. It was a podium car, but now there are too many rivals, although the team’s ambition is to regain pace and get closer to the top-5 for the remainder of the season, which is practically half. At the beginning of Q1, with the asphalt puddled, Fernando and Carlos were in front with Max. But as the track dried up, the Aston Martin lost steam and returned to its true position at this time of the year. He has Saturday left to get even if the rain brings him closer to the top-5. Because under normal conditions, this, from 1st to 10th is rather what there is. Either Friday, Saturday or Sunday.