Max Verstappen Fastest, But Carlos Sainz On Pole For Belgian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen had the fastest car in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying, but he won't start on pole. That honor goes to Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen is one of seven drivers facing engine penalties this weekend. That means that his blistering 1:43.665 lap around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit — the longest on the calendar —was more than half a second clear of Sainz's best lap, a 1:44.297.

Sainz will start alongside Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez.

The reigning champ will start in P15 alongside his nearest title rival Charles Leclerc in P16 as part of a mixed-up grid for Sunday's Grand Prix.

Penalties Galore Leave Us With A Mixed Up Grid

The biggest shock of the session came from Williams' Alex Albon. The Thai driver punched his ticket to Q3 for the first time this season and was the ninth fastest driver. Thanks to all penalties (seriously, there were tons of engine penalties) Albon winds up with a net P6.

This is the second straight year Williams had a strong showing in Belgian Grand Prix Qualifying. Current Mercedes driver George Russell snagged P2 last year and finished on the podium in the farcical, half-points 2021 race.

Speaking of Mercedes, it'll be pleased with its starting positions given lackluster practice sessions. Lewis Hamilton lines up in P4 alongside his former teammate, Alpine's Fernando Alonso, on the second row. Meanwhile, George Russell will be on the clean side of the grid in P5.

Haas will be disappointed with its performance. Mick Schumacher will start in the final spot of the grid due to a penalty. That was somewhat expected.

What wasn't expected was Kevin Magnussen's Q1 exit. The Dane will start in P12. The only un-penalized driver starting behind him is Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda.

With a mixed-up grid, title challengers racing through the field, and a new gravel trap on the outside of Le Source — the circuit's first corner, which is always a treat at the start — expect a wild Belgian Grand Prix.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

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Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.