Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will start Sunday’s (Jul 30) Belgian Grand Prix from pole position after Red Bull’s dominant Formula One leader Max Verstappen qualified comfortably faster but dropped five places for a gearbox change.
Verstappen, who is chasing his eighth win in a row, will start in sixth place at a favourite circuit where last year he romped to victory from 14th on the starting grid after engine penalties.
“I think this year the car is better so I’m still targeting to win the race for sure,” said the Belgian-born Dutch driver, whose team have won every race this season and a record 12 in a row including last year’s Abu Dhabi finale.
The double world champion’s best lap of one minute 46.168 seconds, in sunshine on a rapidly drying track after rain delayed the start of the session by 10 minutes, was 0.820 quicker than Leclerc’s fastest effort.
“Still very far from Max,” said Leclerc who had set the provisional pole time of 1:47.931 before Verstappen blew it away.
“Not confident, especially with the two Red Bull guys right behind,” he said of his chances on Sunday. “I think they’ve got a much better race car than we have.
“It’s great to be starting first, and it gives us a good chance to have a great result, but to say that we will target the win I think is probably a bit too optimistic.”
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, second in the standings but already a mighty 110 points behind his team mate after 11 of 22 races, will join the Monegasque on the front row.
Mercedes seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, on pole last weekend in Hungary, will start third with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz fourth and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri fifth.
The Australian rookie’s team mate Lando Norris will line up seventh alongside Mercedes’ George Russell.
Qualifying was held on Friday at Spa with Saturday a standalone sprint event.