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Max qualifies in fifth at Spa: 'Good chance for a podium'

Published on 31 August 2019 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen will start the Belgian Grand Prix from fifth place. The Dutchman clocked a 1:43.690 as his fastest during qualifying and was therefore trailing pole sitter Charles Leclerc with well over a second. The Monegasque dominated qualifying. Sebastian Vettel rounded up an all front row lock out for Ferrari, while Lewis Hamilton was third fastest.

At the start of qualifying, Verstappen reported on the radio that there were some issues. Post qualifying Max explains what was wrong: “We have been having an issue that when we want to use more power, we are unable to. Ultimately this has troubled us during the entire qualifying session, so that’s a pity. Certainly on a track where you most definitely need it. We had to use less power. That is not ideal here, but we tried to make the best of it. We lacked too much pace on the straight. Compared to Ferrari, more than a second, so that’s pretty painful here.”

Despite everything, Max still sees some chances for a podium in the race: “Fifth place is okay. During the race, you cannot run too much in qualifying mode. So we won’t suffer much from that and we will be automatically much closer. I think that Ferrari this weekend is way too quick. But we are close to Mercedes, given the problems we have. So I expect to take the fight to them and have a good shot at third place. Hopefully we can have a good result for the fans.”

At the start of qualifying, the Mercedes mechanics are still very busy getting Lewis Hamilton’s car ready. The Briton crashed during the final free practice earlier today and badly damaged his car. In the meantime, Max heads out on a set of the softs. At the same moment, Robert Kubica parks his car trackside with an enormous cloud of smoke from the rear of the FW42. The red flag is immediately dropped.

When the session is cleared again, Max is the first to head back out. Hamilton’s Mercedes has been repaired by then and he makes to the track as well. During his first flying lap, Max informs his team on the radio that there is a problem. As a consequence, the Dutchman pits moments later. After a brief stay, Max heads back out again. He clocks a 1:44.622, good enough for the third spot. Immediately after that the session is red flagged again. Antonio Giovinazzi halts with a smoke bellowing Alfa Romeo. This is also the end of Q1. Drop outs are: Pierre Gasly (P16), Carlos Sainz (P17), Daniil Kvyat (P18) and the Williams’ of George Russell and Robert Kubica in 19th and 20th position.

In Q2, Max clocks a 1:44.132 on the soft compound during his first lap and ends up fifth fastest. That is the last we see of him in Q2. Verstappen stays inside for the remainder of the session as his time proves good enough to promote him to Q3. Drivers that don’t make it to the final qualifying round are: Romain Grosjean (P11), Lando Norris (P12) and Lance Stroll (P13). Alexander Albon, who still has a grid-penalty for changing parts of the drive shaft, is fourteenth fastest, while Antonio Giovinazzi (P15) hasn’t set a time.

Q3 has a chaotic start. The Mercedes are driving very slowly before they start their lap and almost even hit each other. Max clocks a 1:44.239 in his first flying lap. All the drivers head out on track once again in the closing stages. During this, Max manages to better his time to a 1:43.690 but remains fifth fastest. Leclerc convincingly takes the pole, with a comfortable seven second lead on Ferrari team mate Vettel. Hamilton and Bottas’ Mercedes wind up third and fourth fastest. Behind of Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg’s Renaults come in sixth and seventh, while Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen round up the top ten.

Belgian GP contest: Win a signed orange Max Verstappen driver cap and lanyard!

Results qualifying Belgium:

1Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:43.5871:42.9381:42.519
2Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:44.1091:43.0371:43.267
3Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:45.2601:43.5921:43.282
4Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:45.1411:43.9801:43.415
5Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:44.6221:44.1321:43.690
6Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:45.5601:44.1031:44.257
7Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:45.8991:44.5491:44.542
8Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:45.8421:44.1401:44.557
9Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:45.7321:44.7071:44.706
10Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:45.8391:44.7381:45.086
11Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:45.6941:44.797
12Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:46.1541:44.847
13Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:46.0001:45.047
14Alexander AlbonALBRed Bull Racing Honda1:45.5281:45.799
15Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:45.637
16Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:46.435
17Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:46.507
18Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:46.518
19George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:47.548
0Robert KubicaKUBWilliams MercedesDNF