Thanks to a perfect show of teamwork, Carlos Sainz and Scuderia Ferrari earned the right to start from pole position in the Belgian Grand Prix, which gets under way tomorrow at 15 CEST at Spa-Francorchamps. Today’s qualifying session was in fact heavily affected by the penalties that seven drivers out of 20 will have to take on the starting grid. These included Max Verstappen, who set the day’s fastest lap, and Charles Leclerc, who will start from 16th place. But the greatest beneficiary of this situation was the other Scuderia Ferrari driver, Carlos Sainz, who did an excellent job to make the most of the potential of his F1-75 and finish ahead of the second Red Bull driver, Sergio Perez.
Teamwork. From the second session of qualifying the Scuderia put in motion a collaboration between its drivers which proved productive. In Q2 Charles went out for his first run a couple of minutes after Carlos, giving him a tow on the Kemmel Straight on his warm-up lap. The Spaniard thus made it through while sparing a set of tyres. On his own slowdown lap, Sainz gave a tow to Leclerc in the third sector, thus repaying the favour to his team-mate. In Q3 the team repeated the operation: Charles gave Carlos a tow on his first run, which he finished in 1’44”297 to place him second fastest behind Verstappen. Charles himself recorded a time of 1’44”553, the fourth fastest overall, even though the grid penalty for the Monegasque driver leaves him down in 16th place, just behind the Dutchman. Neither Carlos nor Perez improved on their second runs so the Spaniard ended up top of the drivers who didn’t have penalties, winning the right to start from pole position. This is the second pole of his Formula 1 and Ferrari career, while it is number 239 for the Scuderia, and their ninth of the season.
Very open race. The starting position is the best Carlos could have, but the Grand Prix looks very open. The drivers on the front row will clearly have the greatest chance but the drivers starting further back will be able to fight their way through the field, helped by the characteristics of the circuit which favour passing moves. All the data collected so far this weekend will be analysed to prepare for the race in the best way possible. The weather is expected to be calm, with much higher temperatures, a factor that could influence the behaviour of the tyres. The race will consist of 44 laps, a total of 308.052 km.
Carlos Sainz #55
"We had a good qualifying and I’m happy to be starting on pole here in Spa. It was today’s goal and we achieved it with perfect team work together with Charles. Now we need to focus on ourselves and make sure to keep our competitors behind us tomorrow. Defending from them won’t be easy, especially at the start, as their performance has been very strong this weekend. I’m ready for a race in which we will fight with everything we have to bring home another win. In terms of race pace, I think we should be competitive."
Charles Leclerc #16
"It wasn’t the most exciting qualifying on my side, given the penalty we will take tomorrow. There was a bit of potential to improve the driving or the car’s set-up - however, our target was not to find that last tenth today. Our competitors have been very fast since the start of the weekend, and looking at the gap we had to them today shows us that it will not be an easy race. I don’t have a clear objective for tomorrow; what I want is to maximize the result. Our race pace was quite good yesterday so hopefully, with a strong first stint and a lot of overtakes, we can come back quickly and fight at the front."
Laurent Mekies, Sporting Director
"It was a very intense and complex qualifying. We had very strong opponents this afternoon, especially Verstappen. But at the end of the day neither Max nor Charles were able to fight for a place on the front row because they both have a PU penalty so we could do our proper qualifying work only with Carlos. It was very tight and it took quite a bit of teamwork - with Charles and Carlos towing each other - to be able to extract the last thousands of a second to get Carlos on P1 for tomorrow. They did a super job together and the team supported them well with a perfect execution. With Charles the priority was to beat the other cars that also had PU penalties today, and ultimately we decided at the last moment to run him on a new set of soft tyres in Q3 to secure the highest position possible. It still leaves him with a very healthy new tyre allocation for tomorrow to battle strongly through the field. It will be an intense race for Carlos, who will have to use all his skills to defend first position. I’m sure that we will have the chance to bring home lots of points."