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F1 qualifying LIVE: Lewis Hamilton targets first pole position of the season at Belgian Grand Prix – msnNOW

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LIVE – Updated at 17:47
Carlos Sainz will start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix on pole, with first in qualifying Max Verstappen taking an engine penalty and starting from the back of the grid.
Sergio Perez will start alongside the Ferrari on the front row having come home third, while Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will occupy the second row in third and fourth respectively on Sunday, with George Russell and the impressive Alex Albon behind. Hamilton in particular could not believe the 1.8 second gap in qualifying to Verstappen in first.
Verstappen will start from 15th as one of six drivers taking penalties, with Charles Leclerc 16th, Esteban Ocon 17th and Lando Norris 18th. Daniel Ricciardo will start the race in 7th despite not pushing his McLare into Q3 on Saturday – with Pierre Gasly 8th, Zhou Guanyu 9th and Lance Stroll 10th.
Round 14 of the 2022 Formula 1 season takes place at 2pm (BST) on Sunday with a dramatic race expected around Spa-Francorchamps – we will have full coverage here at The Independent.
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz will start Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix from the front of the grid despite Max Verstappen obliterating the field in qualifying. World champion Verstappen took pole position by almost seven tenths, but he will be relegated to 15th after serving a penalty for an engine change.
Leclerc, who trails Verstappen by 80 points and is also penalised after taking on a new power unit on Formula One’s return to action following the summer break, is demoted from fourth to 16th. Sergio Perez moves up to second. Despite the penalties for Verstappen and Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will start only fourth and fifth respectively.
Hamilton finished an eye-watering 1.8 seconds down on Verstappen, with team-mate Russell three tenths back. Hamilton might have thought the plethora of grid penalties would provide him with his best shot of ending a losing streak which stretches back to the penultimate round of last season in Saudi Arabia.
But the seven-time world champion has not been in the same post code as the front-runners this weekend, with Red Bull and Ferrari holding a significant edge over the Silver Arrows. And to make matters worse for both Hamilton and Russell, the Alpine duo of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso also qualified ahead of them. Ocon will also be thrown to the back of the pack for engine penalties.
After he crossed the line, Hamilton was informed he had qualified only seventh. “How far are we off?” he said. His race engineer, Peter Bonnington replied: “1.8 seconds to Verstappen.” A disbelieving Hamilton repeated the time back.
Verstappen, the man who denied Hamilton an eight title in controversial fashion last season, has been in imperious form this year – winning eight of the 13 rounds. And despite his penalty, the Dutchman’s speed over one lap, suggests he could yet become a major player in Sunday’s race.
“Obviously everyone is working for improvements, we came here very optimistic that we’d be close. To be 1.8 seconds behind is a real kick in the teeth. It is what it is. It’s a car we continue to struggle with and definitely won’t miss it at the end of the year. It’s just focusing on how we build and design next year’s car. The top two are in another league.
“Our car looks so different to theirs.”
“Feels great, P2 in Canada, P3 here. Hopefully we have a clean race and can maximise the position. It was a good day.
“Realistically we should aim for top-five top-six. Max even starting at the back is super fast.”
“Struggled to comprehend how we got pole in last race and 1.8 seconds off Max. When temperatures are cold we struggle, at Imola. We can’t get the tyres working. It’s pretty frustrating. Confident we’ll have more pace tomorrow but probably half-a-second behind Red Bull and Ferrari.
“I think Max will probably still win the race with the pace he’s got. Charles will come through too, it’s unlikely we’ll be on the podium tomorrow. We need to look overnight and try and understand it. It’s not great, we want more than this. P7 and P8 in qualifying is not where Mercedes should be.”
“Very happy about that [P6]. When the stars align a little bit we can get lap time out of the car. Q1 to be P6 was a shock. Just staying in it but we’re super happy.
“Elbows have to be out tomorrow, this isn’t Monaco where it’s easy to keep cars behind.”
“When you see the gap to Max it’s a bit worrying. They are extremely quick. We cannot explain quite why, we need to work and try our best tomorrow. They seem to have found something this weekend.
“Red Bulls are way too fast, nothing that we could have done wrong. Today the car is just not a level.
“Race pace is both of our cars are much closer but let’s wait and see.”
Hamilton can’t believe his gap to Verstappen in first, which is 1.7 seconds! A voice of absolute bemusement on the radio to Bono. Nevertheless, he starts 4th on the grid so there’s still an opportunity for him tomorrow!
Terrific lap from the World Championship leader Verstappen though, who admitted he is targeting a podium from 15th tomorrow! He was over half-a-second quicker than Sainz…
1. Max Verstappen (pen., starts 15th)
2. Carlos Sainz
3. Sergio Perez
4. Charles Leclerc (pen., starts 16th)
5. Esteban Ocon (pen., starts 17th)
6. Fernando Alonso
7. Lewis Hamilton
8. George Russell
9. Alex Albon
10. Lando Norris (pen., starts 18th)
“P2 is not the worst place to be around here – looking forward to tomorrow, it’ll be a great race ahead of us.”
“Happy to start on pole. Not so happy to see the gap to Max and Red Bull. We need to keep digging to see why the gap to Red Bull.
“A bit puzzled to see the big gap to Max which makes me wonder what is going to happen in the race. There’s definitely something to find.”
“We were really on it. It all came together in qualifying, very happy with my lap. It’s an amazing track, amazing fans around…
“With a car like this it would be a shame not to be on the podium..”
Max Verstappen first on the timesheets but Carlos Sainz in second will take pole due to the Red Bull driver’s penalty!
Perez in third will be alongside Sainz on the front row. And Fernando Alonso will be third alongside foruth-place Lewis Hamilton!
Russell and Albon will be fifth and sixth respectively…
Incidentally, Sainz screwed up his final lap but his first run was enough! Hamilton went quicker late on then, getting in front of his team-mate…
Verstappen won’t be back out on track given his penalty but most other cars are back out on track for the final laps – at the moment, Sainz on pole!
Leclerc also in pits, as is Norris. Ocon the only penalised driver on track – maybe giving a slipstream to Alonso?
Big moments at Spa-Francochamps here…
Verstappen on top but, more importantly, Sainz is second and would be on pole as it stands!
Perez 3rd, Ocon 4th and Norris 5th. The latter two drivers have penalties…
George Russell is sixth and then Alex Albon has gone quicker than Lewis Hamilton, splitting the Mercedes currently! That means Russell and Albon would be on the second row…
Meanwhile, Ferrari have made an error with Leclerc’s tyres given his penalty – surely not another mistake for the Scuderia?!
Who will be on pole position at Spa-Francorchamps?! 12 minutes of Q3 is underway…
A reminder of who in the top-10 has a back-of-the-grid penalty: Verstappen, Leclerc, Norris and Ocon.
That means Ricciardo, 11th in qualifying, will be 7th on the grid currently! Big moments for the non-effected Q3 runners…
Alex Albon qualifies for Q3 – for the first time this season! Disappointment for Lance Stroll, who looked so quick in practice – he can only go 14th in qualifying, while Daniel Ricciardo misses out by two-tenths!
Bottom-five knocked out (11-15): Ricciardo, Gasly, Zhou, Stroll, Schumacher.
Leclerc quickest from Verstappen and Perez. Hamilton and Russell fifth and sixth respectively after a nervy few seconds spent in the bottom-five there!
Now time for the finale in Q3…
All the cars now (bar the top-two Red Bulls) back out on track for their second laps – Hamilton will need to go quicker here!
Big few minutes here given the numerous penalties – this is vital for the midfield ahead of tomorrow’s race.
Who will make it into Q3?! Current bottom-five (11-15): Albon, Zhou, Stroll, Schumacher, Ricciardo.
Concern for Mercedes – they’re both miles off the pace at the moment! Lewis Hamilton is in the last available place in 10th…
Verstappen up on top, followed by Perez and Sainz. Current bottom-five (11-15): Albon, Zhou, Stroll, Schumacher, Ricciardo.
Ricciardo yet to set a time. Hamilton two-tenths ahead of Albon in 11th…
Q2 has started – 15 minutes to set the top-10 shootout for the final qualifying session!
Lewis Hamilton is, quite notably, the first car out on the track. Incidentally, George Russell noted that there was spits of rain through Eau Rouge towards the end of Q1 – some rain would certainly spice it up even more!
Can both Mercedes get themselves into Q3? Big half-an-hour or so for the Silver Arrows.
Nervy moments for Hamilton was 14th for a while but he puts himself towards the top of the leaderboard, as does Russell and the Williams of Alex Albon – he’s sixth!
Top-five knocked out: Vettel, Latifi, Magnussen, Tsunoda, Bottas. Vettel misses out by 0.002 seconds!
Bottas knocked out of Q1 for the first time since Monaco 2015! However, due to all the engine penalties, he’s set to start 14th as opposed to 20th.
Every car now in the pits as they all prepare for their final runs in Q1.
The Mercedes boys near-certain to head back out there as they are far from safe in 10th and 11th. Hamilton is only four-tenths away from being knocked out!
Impressively, the Alpines of Ocon and Alonso are in fifth and sixth.
Every car has now recorded a lap after a slow start to the session – Max Verstappen on top, with Sainz in second and Perez third.
Bottom-five currently: Stroll, Latifi, Schumacher, Zhou, Bottas. Yuki Tsuonda in 15th.
Worryingly, Russell and Hamilton are only 10th and 11th respectively! Miles off it…
We’re underway at Spa-Francorchamps – 18 minutes for Q1!
The Williams of Nicholas Latifi – who qualified 10th last year in the wet – is out first. Both the Canadian and team-mate Alex Albon have been showing impressive straight-line speed in practice, can it make a difference in qualifying?
We’re just two minutes away from action in Q1 at Spa-Francorchamps!
Max Verstappen was on pole last year but even if he finishes first today, the Red Bull driver will be at the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.
Also taking penalties this weekend: Leclerc, Norris, Ocon, Schumacher, Bottas, Zhou.
Will it be confusing to track in qualifying? Quite possibly, aye….
Qualifying will start at 3:25pm (BST) following the repair of the barrier at Spa-Francorchamps!
So only 10 minutes away from some action out on track in Belgium!
Lewis Hamilton is looking intensely at his Mercedes W13 in the garage. He’s failed to fire in practice but can he get it together in qualifying? The seven-time world champion is still looking for a top-three finish in qualifying this year…
It’s dry at Spa-Francorchamps for qualifying this afternoon – for the time being.
Remember last year’s dramatic qualifying session in the wet? Lando Norris’ heavy shunt and George Russell’s memorable second place in a Williams? Let’s hope the rain stays away this time round…
Still no update of a start time for qualifying here…
The qualifying start time has been pushed back here, with the start of the session delayed as the marshalls look to fix a broken barrier out on track…
The crash took place in the Porsche Supercup race which took place before qualifying, following a collision between two cars.
More as we get it…
1. Max Verstappen – 258 points
2. Charles Leclerc – 178 points
3. Sergio Perez – 173 points
4. George Russell – 158 points
5. Carlos Sainz – 156 points
6. Lewis Hamilton – 146 points
7. Lando Norris – 76 points
8. Esteban Ocon – 58 points
9. Valtteri Bottas – 46 points
10. Fernando Alonso – 41 points
11. Kevin Magnussen – 22 points
12. Daniel Ricciardo -19 points
13. Pierre Gasly – 16 points
14. Sebastian Vettel – 16 points
15. Mick Schumacher – 12 points
16. Yuki Tsunoda – 11 points
17. Guanyu Zhou – 5 points
18. Lance Stroll – 4 points
19. Alex Albon – 3 points
20. Nicholas Latifi – 0 points
21. Nico Hulkenberg – 0 points
Red Bull boss Christian Horner insists big and historic races should remain on the Formula One calendar with the future of the Belgian Grand Prix uncertain. Formula One returns after the summer break this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, but the future of the race is not clear as it enters the final year of its current contract.
There have been suggestions that Spa might lose its spot on the 2023 calendar, as F1 attempts to squeeze in as many races as possible while catering for new venues such as Las Vegas, potentially South Africa and the possible return of China.
With the long-term future of the Monaco Grand Prix also far from concrete, Horner told Sky F1 that it was imperative that Formula One protected traditional venues from falling off the busy globetrotting schedule.
“Spa, for sure… it’s one of those historic races,” Horner said. “Monza, Silverstone, Spa, they’re the big and historic ones, we should ringfence those and protect those.”
Horner insists historic races like Spa should be ‘ringfenced’ in F1 calendar
Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali says the Belgian Grand Prix could survive the chop from next season’s calendar. The future of the race staged at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps venue – last year cancelled after just two rain-hit laps behind the safety car – is mired in doubt as F1 chiefs continue to expand the sport’s schedule. A record 24 races have been mooted for next year.
But speaking ahead of this weekend’s grand prix in Belgium, the first following F1’s four-week summer shutdown, Domenicali said: “I saw a comment that Sunday’s race in Belgium would be the last, but I would be very prudent on that. Discussions are still on.
“We are working and discussing with other promoters to see if they are ready for a full commitment on next year but the balance is to find a mix of races with one third in Europe, one third in the Far East and the other third in America and the Middle East.
“We have always said that the traditional races, even though they cannot bring the same money as the others, have full respect from us, and you will see that is respected this year but also in the future.”
A debut race on the Las Vegas strip has already been confirmed for 2023, while the return of the South African Grand Prix in Kyalami is also a prospect. However, it is unclear if the Kyalami venue, last used by F1 19 years ago, will be up to scratch for next season, handing a potential reprieve to Spa.
F1 chief insists Belgian Grand Prix at Spa could stay on calendar for 2023
Lewis Hamilton has raised the prospect of ending the leanest spell of his Formula One career by winning Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. The second half of the season starts in Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, kicking off a run of nine races in a dozen weeks. Hamilton is 112 points behind runaway championship leader Max Verstappen following a poor start to the season for the seven-time world champion and his Mercedes team.
But the British driver headed into the summer shutdown off the back of five consecutive podiums – including back-to-back runner-up finishes at the most recent rounds in France and Hungary.
Hamilton’s hopes of ending his 14-race losing streak could also be aided here if Red Bull’s Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz elect to take on new engines, demoting them to the back of the grid.
And asked if he feels he is getting closer to a win, Hamilton, 37, said: “I definitely do. We have been improving and we have become consistent in recent races. The team is pulling together, making great progress and we are continuing to push.
“The car has become more of a racing car, and not what it was at the beginning of the year. That is positive, and the last race [Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell finished third] was the best showing that we have had so far.”
Lewis Hamilton confident Mercedes can win first race of 2022 at Belgian Grand Prix
Audi will join Formula 1 from 2026 as a power unit supplier, following an announcement on Friday morning. New F1 power unit regulations for 2026 – featuring increased electrical power and 100% sustainable fuels – have been designed to make entry into the sport more attractive for newcomers and the German manufacturer are the first confirmed new entry for four years’ time.
Audi say they will announce a decision on which team they will be “lining up with in 2026 by the end of this year”, with the company expected to take a controlling interest in Swiss-backed Sauber (currently racing as Alfa Romeo) and enter as a full manufacturer.
Just hours after Audi’s announcement, Alfa Romeo announced it will end its Formula 1 ties with Sauber from the end of next year. “I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula 1, an iconic automotive brand, pioneer and technological innovator,” said F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, at a launch at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
Audi to join Formula 1 from 2026
Qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps starts at 3pm (BST)!
How can I watch it online and on TV?
The entire race schedule from Saturday to Sunday will be broadcast live on Sky Sports F1 with qualifying on Sky Sports Main Event too. Highlights will be aired on Channel 4; for qualifying and the race at 6:30pm (BST) on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
If you’re not a Sky customer you can grab a NOWTV Day Pass here to watch without a subscription.
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Sergio Perez goes fastest in the final few seconds and is top – 0.137 seconds ahead of Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen!
Carlos Sainz is in third, with Lando Norris fourth and Fernando Alonso fifth.
Russell 6th, Hamilton all the way down in 12th…
We’re back underway pretty sharpish – that red flag was thrown slightly too early there!
Four minutes to go, the drivers will get a final chance or two to impact the timesheets…
Charles Leclerc has spun into the gravel and has *lightly* crashed into the barriers!
The Monegasque has managed to keep his Ferrari running and has limped back to the pits, though he tells his engineer that he doesn’t think there’s any damage!
The session is red flagged but the clock keeps running – that might be IT for FP3!
Another scary moment for the Championship contender…
RED FLAG! 🚩
Charles Leclerc loses the rear and spins through the gravel and into the barriers! pic.twitter.com/n0qjmTbZ8F
Just 15 minutes left in third practice and normal order is resumed – Max Verstappen is at the top of the leaderboard, five-tenths ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
Sainz 3rd, Leclerc 4th. Alex Albon is the best of the rest in fifth, with Hamilton all the way down in 13th. All cars on softs now so the order could well change…
BREAKING: Zhou Guanyu the latest to take an engine penalty and start at the back of the grid.
Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Sergio Perez tops the timesheets with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc behind him.
Fifteen minutes gone and two surprise names at the top at the moment – the Alfa Romeos of Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas! Lance Stroll, who was quick yesterday, is in third with Sebastian Vettel in fourth.
George Russell is struggling to get temperature into his tyres early on here – the same issue he was complaining about yesterday. It’s a big day for Mercedes, they have a big chance to make an impact in qualifying given the penalties to Verstappen and Leclerc!
FP3 coming right up at a cloudy Spa-Francorchamps…
Daniel Ricciardo admits he could step away from Formula in 2023 “if it made sense” as the Australian looks for a race seat next year.
The 33-year-old’s departure from McLaren at the end of this season was announced on Wednesday, with the team paying out £8.5m to terminate Ricciardo’s contract a year early.
The popular Australian, who started his F1 career with HRT back in 2011, will depart after the final nine races of this season having achieved a memorable win at Monza last year – but no podiums for McLaren other than that.
By the end of this year, Ricciardo will have raced for 11-and-a-half consecutive seasons in Formula 1 and speaking in the drivers’ press conference before F1’s post-summer break return in Belgium this weekend, Ricciardo did not rule out taking a one-year sabbatical to assess his long-term options but did eliminate the idea of competing in any other motorsport series, such as IndyCar.
Ricciardo does not rule out taking one-year sabbatical away from Formula 1
Pierre Gasly hasn’t yet spoken to any team, including Red Bull, about his future in the Formula 1 after signing an extension to his deal at AlphaTauri until the end of the 2023 season.
The Frenchman has impressed at Red Bull’s sister team since mid-2019 and has been linked with seats at other teams, such as Alpine.
However, the 26-year-old emphasised now was not the right moment to assess his long-term future but did admit he was excited to have the next step in his control.
Pierre Gasly ‘open’ about the future after signing extension at AlphaTauri for 2023
Audi will join Formula 1 from 2026 as a power unit supplier, following an announcement on Friday morning.
New F1 power unit regulations for 2026 – featuring increased electrical power and 100% sustainable fuels – have been designed to make entry into the sport more attractive for newcomers and the German manufacturer are the first confirmed new entry for four years’ time.
Audi say they will announce a decision on which team they will be “lining up with in 2026 by the end of this year”, with the company expected to take a controlling interest in Swiss-backed Sauber (currently racing as Alfa Romeo) and enter as a full manufacturer.
Audi to join Formula 1 from 2026
Lewis Hamilton has raised the prospect of ending the leanest spell of his Formula One career by winning Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
The second half of the season starts in Spa-Francorchamps this weekend, kicking off a run of nine races in a dozen weeks. Hamilton is 112 points behind runaway championship leader Max Verstappen following a poor start to the season for the seven-time world champion and his Mercedes team.
But the British driver headed into the summer shutdown off the back of five consecutive podiums – including back-to-back runner-up finishes at the most recent rounds in France and Hungary.
Lewis Hamilton confident Mercedes can win first race of 2022 at Belgian Grand Prix
1. Max Verstappen – 258 points
2. Charles Leclerc – 178 points
3. Sergio Perez – 173 points
4. George Russell – 158 points
5. Carlos Sainz – 156 points
6. Lewis Hamilton – 146 points
7. Lando Norris – 76 points
8. Esteban Ocon – 58 points
9. Valtteri Bottas – 46 points
10. Fernando Alonso – 41 points
11. Kevin Magnussen – 22 points
12. Daniel Ricciardo -19 points
13. Pierre Gasly – 16 points
14. Sebastian Vettel – 16 points
15. Mick Schumacher – 12 points
16. Yuki Tsunoda – 11 points
17. Guanyu Zhou – 5 points
18. Lance Stroll – 4 points
19. Alex Albon – 3 points
20. Nicholas Latifi – 0 points
21. Nico Hulkenberg – 0 points
(All times BST)
Saturday 27 August
Sunday 28 August
Who will be our pole sitter in Spa? 🤔
⏰ Tune in to find out!#BelgianGP @ROLEX pic.twitter.com/6rV92IEuRC
Final times after second practice:
1 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1min 45.507secs, 2 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:46.369, 3 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:46.589, 4 Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:46.635, 5 Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:46.649, 6 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:46.893, 7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:46.975, 8 George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:47.042, 9 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:47.255, 10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:47.34.
11 Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:47.520, 12 Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:47.617, 13 Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:47.658, 14 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:47.782, 15 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:47.867, 16 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:47.944, 17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:48.208, 18 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:48.419, 19 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:48.612, 20 Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:49.941.
Final times after first practice:
1 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spa) Ferrari 1min 46.538secs, 2 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:46.607, 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:46.755, 4 George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:47.396, 5 Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:47.437, 6 Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:47.835, 7 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:48.081, 8 Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:48.310, 9 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:48.420, 10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:48.474.
11 Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:48.485, 12 Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:48.672, 13 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:49.470, 14 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:49.664, 15 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:49.813, 16 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:50.315, 17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:50.982, 18 Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:51.259, 19 Liam Lawson (Nzl) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:52.065, 20 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing No Time Set.
Lewis Hamilton has been handed the best chance of winning his first race of the season after Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were dealt grid penalties for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
Verstappen, who has been an unstoppable force this year, and Leclerc – the Ferrari driver whose title challenge has faltered through faults by man and machine – are among six drivers to be punished for exceeding their number of allocated engine parts as Formula One returns to action following its summer shutdown.
McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, Alpine driver Esteban Ocon and Mick Schumacher of Haas will also be penalised.
Depending on how the penalties unravel, Verstappen and Leclerc will start somewhere in the final quarter of the 20-man grid for Sunday’s 44-lap race at Spa-Francorchamps.
After losing out so controversially to Verstappen in last year’s contentious title decider in Abu Dhabi, Hamilton, in his under-performing Mercedes machinery, endured a turbulent start to the season.
But the 37-year-old headed into the recent one-month break with renewed vigour following five consecutive podiums, including two back-to-back runner-up finishes in France and Hungary at the end of July.
Lewis Hamilton given chance for first win of 2022 as rivals dealt grid penalties
McLaren’s Lando Norris finished third in the second session ahead of Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and Ferrari’s Friday afternoon pacesetter Carlos Sainz.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was seventh behind Hamilton with the Briton’s Mercedes team mate George Russell eighth.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, on his way out of McLaren at the end of the season, was ninth with Sergio Perez rounding out the top 10 for Red Bull.
The grid drops for Verstappen and Leclerc could clear the way for Mercedes to score their first win of the season.
The formerly dominant champions looked lacklustre in practice on Friday but Lewis Hamilton is hopeful the team can turn it around.
“We often find this on the Friday and then things change a little bit more on Saturday,” said the seven times world champion, who was ninth and sixth respectively in Friday’s two sessions.
“I hope that’s the case,” he added.
The penalty for Verstappen could have opened up the ideal opportunity for Leclerc to make inroads into his Red Bull rival’s lead.
However, the Monegasque – whose title challenge has come undone thanks to reliability woes, driver errors and strategic missteps – will instead be locked in a battle with his rival to fight through the field.
“Our main focus will be on race pace tomorrow,” said Leclerc. “Qualifying will not be as relevant due to our penalty.”
Red Bull’s Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen set a dominant pace on the opening day of practice for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday.
The Dutchman lapped with a best time of one minute 45.507 seconds, a comfortable 0.862 clear of Ferrari title rival Charles Leclerc.
Both championship protagonists are however set to start Sunday’s race from the back end of the grid after collecting engine and gearbox-related penalties.
The pair are among a group of seven drivers facing similar drops.
Verstappen leads Leclerc by 80 points in the overall standings with nine races to go and does not need to win again to clinch a second successive title if results go his way.
The winner of a three-lap, safety-car led washout at Spa last year, the 24-year-old still wants a proper victory in the country of his birth.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the long and sweeping Spa circuit, which is easy to overtake on, offered Verstappen the best chance of fighting his way through the field.
“You look strategically at the calendar, (and) we felt it was particularly tight to get to the end of the year with the engine allocation that we have,” the Briton told Sky Sports.
“Here and Bahrain are probably two of the easiest circuits on the calendar to actually make an overtake.”
Follow all the latest news and build-up to qualifying at Spa.

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