Carlos Sainz Jr. on F1 Spa pole with Max Verstappen dropping to 15th for grid penalty

Carlos Sainz Spa pole
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium — Carlos Sainz Jr will start from the pole position  Sunday at the Belgian Grand Prix because Formula One points leader Max Verstappen was among the many drivers to be hit with grid penalties.

Sainz was actually second fastest to Verstappen in Saturday qualifying, but the reigning world champion will drop to 15th ahead of the start. Verstappen otherwise would have won his fourth pole of the season and 17th of his career.

The Red Bull driver still liked his chances based on his qualifying speed.

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“With a car like this, it would be a shame not to be on the podium,” a confident Verstappen said.

Sainz was pleased with his starting position but his Ferrari was an unsettling .632-seconds slower than Verstappen in qualifying.

“I’m happy to be starting on pole; obviously not so happy to see the gap to Max this weekend,” said the Spaniard. “But to start from pole is a good start.”

Sainz didn’t dismiss the possibility of Verstappen coming through the field and winning for the ninth time this season.

“A safety car can help him and if you translate the pace he has over 44 laps, he can come back,” Sainz said.

And, Verstappen noted he won from 10th in Hungary.

“Survive Lap 1 and then I need to pass a few cars,” Verstappen said. “It’s a bit like Hungary, a bit further back but the basics are the same.”

Verstappen will start alongside Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who trails the Dutchman by 80 points as F1 resumes competition following its summer break. Leclerc was fourth fastest in qualifying but, like Verstappen, received a grid penalty for changing parts and will drop to 16th.

Seven drivers in total received grid penalties ahead of the 14th race of the season. Also forced to drop to the back are: Lando Norris of McLaren, Esteban Ocon of Alpine, Zhou Guanyu of Alfa Romeo, Mick Schumacher of Haas and Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo.

Bottas had earlier failed to advance out of the first group for the first time since Monaco in 2015.

With all the penalties, Red Bull driver Sergio Perez (third-fastest in qualifying) will start second ahead of Fernando Alonso of Alpine. Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will start fourth and fifth once they move up the grid following the penalties.

Alex Albon advanced to the third round of qualifying for the first time this season, which means every driver on the F1 grid has now made it to the final round at least once this year.

The 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) circuit, nestled in the Ardennes forest, is the longest in F1 and among the best for overtaking — which could make it easier for Verstappen and the other fast cars to make it through traffic to the front.

“It should be a very exciting race for the fans,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

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With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III