Verstappen set the fastest time in Friday qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps, which will be converted to sixth on the grid due to a gearbox penalty, after putting a massive eight tenths on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at the end of Q3.
Verstappen narrowly avoided missing out on the top 10 shootout, as he managed to escape elimination in Q2 when the track was still wet.
A dispute regarding his race strategy led to a heated argument with his Red Bull race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, although the world champion later expressed regret for his outburst.
He expressed that it was extremely challenging. Naturally, the circumstances were quite unpredictable as the track was rapidly drying.
In my last lap, I lacked the confidence in Q2 to push harder. I consider myself fortunate to have secured the 10th position.
In Q3, the track quickly dried up, prompting all drivers to switch to soft slicks. The fight for pole position seemed to hinge on when drivers could begin their last laps.
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
Verstappen, on his second set of tires, gained the confidence to surpass Leclerc’s record in the last moments. However, due to his penalty, Leclerc will be officially awarded the pole position.
Verstappen continued by stating that in the third quarter, there are two sets of tires available. This knowledge allows drivers to push themselves and take more risks. This is precisely what they did on the last lap.
“I understand that in order to secure pole position once more, I will need to take a step back on Sunday due to the penalty I have incurred. Nevertheless, given the circumstances, I believe today’s performance was the best I could achieve.”
Verstappen also took a penalty in last year’s race, going on to win the grand prix at a canter from 14th on the grid.
Red Bull’s impressive performance in 2023 continues to make the Dutchman the clear frontrunner for winning his third consecutive Belgian Grand Prix.
He stated, “Despite having more penalties last year, we were still able to win the race, so that remains our goal for Sunday.”