Max Verstappen was comfortably quickest but will start nowhere near the front of the grid. If that doesn’t make for a tantalising Belgian Grand Prix, nothing will.
The reigning world champion was one of seven drivers given grid penalties due to having had engine work carried out, but anyone watching the Red Bull gliding around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit will not be discounting him from taking a ninth race win of 2022. A qualifying time of 1:43:665 was nearly eight-tenths of a second faster than anyone else, and 1.8 seconds quicker than Lewis Hamilton.
“One-point-eight seconds?” the Mercedes driver repeated over the team radio, in disbelief and despondency.
Still, it will be Carlos Sainz who will start on pole, the Spaniard having recorded the second-fastest time despite Ferrari’s strategy of using Charles Leclerc for slip-streaming almost going awry when they put him in fresh tyres apparently by mistake.
CARLOS: “I’m happy to be starting on pole. Obviously not so happy to see the gap to Max this weekend. But to start from pole is a good start and we will try to win from there tomorrow”#BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/WMOZnckuwC
Leclerc qualified fourth, behind Sergio Perez but ahead of the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso, although he, too, will be moved to the back of the grid.
Hamilton was seventh, Mercedes teammate George Russell eighth, and Alex Albon ninth after reaching Q3 for the first time this season. Of course, none of them will start the race in those positions given the seven drivers who must be reshuffled to the back of the pack.
It’s that haphazard-looking grid that could make the 2022 race at Spa-Francorchamps – already one of the most popular circuits in Formula One – a truly enjoyable spectacle.
That said, Leclerc did not sound too confident. The Ferrari driver did not blame his team for finishing so worryingly short of Red Bull’s pace. When asked by Sky Sports if they could have done anything different to get him ahead of title rival Verstappen on the grid, he replied: “No, no, no. They are way too fast. It’s a bit worrying.”
When you know you’ve got grid penalties, but you put it on POLE anyway 🔥 @Max33Verstappen 🇧🇪 pic.twitter.com/sSSE4UqBGD
*Driver given a grid penalty
MORE: David Coulthard talks final F1 2022 predictions, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes struggles and Las Vegas racing
END OF Q3: Sainz takes pole position! Verstappen was fastest but will go to the back of the grid, meaning Sainz will start ahead of Perez on the front row.
5 mins to go: Another Ferrari error? Leclerc has just asked over the radio why he’s on fresh tyres when he’s only really out here to help Sainz get a better time (he’ll have a grid penalty, remember). “A mistake,” is the reply from the garage. Meanwhile, Verstappen has just clocked 1:43:665, which is ominous…
START OF Q3: The final session is underway. With all these grid penalties to come, how will the final lineup look? Let’s find out…
END OF Q2: A 1:44:551 from Leclerc! That’s quite a statement. Hamilton and Russell rescue themselves with good final laps, and they’ll be joined in Q3 by Albon — the last remaining driver in 2022 who was yet to reach the final session of qualifying.
Eliminated from Q2:
First time in Q3 this season for @alex_albon 👏 #BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/JcDLfkepkV
5 mins left of Q2: Verstappen and Perez lead the way in Q2, with Leclerc down in sixth. He’s complained of some “very, very strange” bouncing at certain corners (although that might be because he went right up on the kerb).
START OF Q2: Hamilton must be feeling good — he’s straight out for the start of Q2.
END OF Q1: Hamilton goes fifth-fastest with his last flying lap of the session — that was impressive. Vettel looked like he’d got himself out of trouble, but Albon’s final lap pushed the four-time world champion into the bottom five by just two thousandths of a second.
Eliminated from Q1:
That ends Bottas’ incredible run of progressing to Q2 at every grand prix since Monaco in 2015!
5 mins left of Q1: Hamilton and Russell look to be trying to get some warmth into their tyres. Their latest flying laps left them 11th and 10th, respectively, and they look far from dead certs to reach Q3.
10 mins left of Q1: Sainz had just gone three-tenths of a second quicker than Perez, and Verstappen promptly became the first driver to go under 1:45:00. It’s Red Bull, Ferrari, Red Bull, Ferrari so far.
START OF Q1: Here we go! Nicholas Latifi is the first man out as the lights go green.
START DELAYED: We’re being told the new start time is 16:25 local time, so in around 10 minutes. Repairs to the barrier have been ongoing and look to be nearly finished. Some of the drivers are now in their cars, waiting.
The barrier was damaged during qualifying for Sunday’s Porsche Supercup race 👀 #BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/vRZLZfU0ah
5 mins to go: We’re ready for Q1 at Spa-Franchorchamps, a glorious forest setting. It’s a bit grey overhead, and fairly cool, so tyre temperatures could be tricky to build up.
We’re facing a slight delay to the start here, though, due to a crash in one of the earlier racing events that’s needed a bit of clearing-up (there’s a barrier that needs repairing).
30 mins to go: Perez clocked the quickest time in the final practice session, ahead of Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. Lewis Hamilton was 12th-fastest in his Mercedes.
The RB18 likes this Spa circuit 💪#BelgianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/ygaj44YA09
45 mins to go: There are seven drivers for whom qualifying means a lot less than normal as they will all start from the back of the grid for using too many engine parts. Among them is championship leader Max Verstappen, who was comfortably the quickest in the second practice session ahead of teammate Sergio Perez.
Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Alfa Romeo drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, and Mick Schumacher are the others who must start Sunday’s race from the back.
1 hour to go: F1 is back! The 2022 season resumes at Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most popular circuits in the sport, and we’ll be bringing you all the latest from qualifying.
The ESPN family of networks will broadcast all 2022 F1 races in the United States using Sky Sports’ feed, with select races airing on ABC. You can also stream Formula 1 races live in the U.S. with fuboTV, which offers a free trial.
ESPN Deportes serves as the exclusive Spanish-language home for all 2022 F1 races in the U.S.
Sunday’s 2022 Belgian Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. local time. Lights out will likely take place just after 9 a.m. ET. ESPN’s prerace show typically airs in the hour before the start of the race.
Below is the complete TV schedule for the weekend’s F1 events at the Belgian Grand Prix. All times are Eastern.
For those who don’t have a cable or satellite subscription, five major OTT TV streaming options carry the ESPN networks — fuboTV, Sling, Hulu, YouTubeTV and DirecTV Stream.
For those who do have a cable or satellite subscription but won’t be in front of a TV, Formula 1 races in 2022 can be streamed live via phones, tablets and other devices on the ESPN app with authentication.
There are 22 scheduled events on the F1 docket for 2022, one race shy of tying the mark for longest F1 calendar.
The season started in Bahrain on March 20 and will end with the customary Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, although a bit earlier than usual, in November. If the schedule stands, this will be the earliest end of the Formula 1 season since it ended on Nov. 4 in 2013.
Returning to the 2022 F1 slate are the Canadian and Japanese Grand Prix, both of which were canceled in 2021 amid fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The calendar also holds the maiden voyage for the Miami Grand Prix, the first of two races in the United States in 2022, with the customary United States GP taking place in October.
The Russian Grand Prix, originally scheduled for Sept. 25, was canceled because of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Here’s the latest schedule (subject to change):
For fans in Canada, TSN will carry the English-language telecast of races. For those looking for the French-language broadcast, RDS will have you covered.
Races can also be streamed via TSN’s streaming service, TSN Direct.
Viewers in the United Kingdom can catch all F1 action on Sky Sports F1, the dedicated F1 channel. For viewers planning to live stream F1 in 2022, you can purchase a Sky Sports Pass on NOW TV.
Fox Sports will carry all races in Australia, with Channel 10 broadcasting the Australian GP.