HOURhowdy and welcome to our protection of the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix, the primary race after F1’s conventional three-week summer season break. How a lot has modified within the hierarchy because the final race in Hungary nearly a month in the past? Judging by yesterday’s qualification, the reply is a bit, however in the end not fairly.
It was Max Verstappen who set the quickest time in qualifying, a whopping 0.685 seconds forward of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and nearly eight-tenths forward of his teammate Sergio Pérez. Nonetheless, a complete of seven riders on the sector acquired quite a few demerit factors, all of which had their qualifying positions considerably lowered as a consequence of numerous powertrain and gearbox adjustments.
All because of this Verstappen begins 14th, Charles Leclerc, who’s 80 factors behind Verstappen within the standings with 9 rounds remaining, is in fifteenth place, and Esteban Ocon, Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas, Guanyu Zhou and Mick Schumacher begin within the backside six. Which means the highest six will line up as follows: Sainz, Perez, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell and Albon. There isn’t any denying that that is an fascinating six.
The primary lap runs down from the grid to the La Supply hairpin, up via Eau Rouge and Raidillon, and down the Kemmel Straight to the primary chicane, which is more likely to be full of motion. Particularly because the runoff space at La Supply has been redesigned with a gravel entice on the surface. Nonetheless, this may occasionally power drivers to be extra cautious.
Mercedes begins fourth and fifth regardless of having one of many worst qualifying outcomes this 12 months. In its purest kind, it wasn’t as dangerous as their Imola run, however given the context during which they made some actual enhancements (albeit somewhat up and down) and took pole place final time in Hungary, it was a shock. Hamilton completed 1.8 seconds again from the tempo, with Russell somewhat additional behind. And there have been ideas that they might be nearer to the leaders right here, given the brand new technical directive for dolphins and bouncing.
Then who’s the favourite to win? It is solely about Sainz, however regardless of beginning 14th, Verstappen is bookies’ second favourite and it is exhausting to take offense at that. His pace in Purple Bull on one lap was phenomenal. That is additionally a observe the place overtaking is feasible. He might have a couple of issues to realize victory, however it might be a shock if he didn’t end on the rostrum, all different issues being equal.
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