How the Belgian Grand Prix mixed grid looks after penalties
Carlos Sainz will start from pole at the Belgian Grand Prix, despite not setting the fastest time in qualifying, after a series of engine and gearbox penalties for the drivers, the grid was very mixed for Sunday’s race.
In a bizarre quirk of F1 rules, that means no driver starts Sunday’s race from the position they qualified from.
The confusion is due to the amount of engine components allowed for drivers before penalties are incurred – the nature of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit makes it an ideal place to carry out a tactical engine change as there are many opportunities to overshoot to allow recoveries from low gate positions.
The seven drivers who received engine and gearbox penalties hope to complete the end of the season without having to take another one.
Championship leader and defending champion Max Verstappen and defending rival Charles Leclerc are starting at the back of the grid for this reason.
Six of those seven start from the back and their positions were all dictated by their final qualifying position. However, Alfa Romeo took advantage of a loophole in the regulations to fit Valtteri Bottas with a new powertrain and gearbox without incurring a “return to the grid” penalty (explained below).
Starting order (and where they qualified):
1. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) Qualified 2nd
2. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) Qualified 3rd
3. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) Qualified 6th
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) Qualified 7th
5. George Russell (Mercedes) Qualified 8th
6. Alex Albon (Williams) Qualified 9th
7. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) 11th qualified
8. Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri) 12th qualified
9. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), 14th qualified
10. Sebastien Vettel (Aston Martin), Qualified 16th
11. Nicolas Latifi (Williams), 17th qualified
12. Kevin Magnussen (Haas), 18th qualified
13. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), 19th qualified
14. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) Qualified 20th *Sadness
Although Bottas’ total penalty amounts to 20 grid places – which would normally be a “grid return” penalty – because Alfa Romeo has split the penalties with 15 powertrain places and five gearbox gears, rather than making 20 place changes in one penalty, he technically has a 20 place penalty rather than a “grid return” penalty.
As a result, his 20-place penalty means he starts ahead of the drivers with a “grid return” penalty. The FIA intends to close the loophole for future races.
15. Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Qualified 1st *Sadness
16. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Qualified 4th *Sadness
17. Esteban Ocon (Alpine), Qualified 5th *Sadness
18. Lando Norris (McLaren) 10th qualified *Sadness
19. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo), 13th qualified *Sadness
20. Mick Schumacher (Haas), 15th qualified *Sadness
A great show awaits you
The mixed grid should create an exciting event, with a Ferrari and Red Bull sharing the front row and former rivals Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton sharing the second row.
Mercedes have lacked pace this weekend but are keen to take advantage of their two drivers relegated from a few positions in the standings, while Alonso will look to attack from third on the grid.
Alex Albon will start from sixth position after a very impressive qualifying performance
Daniel Ricciardo failed to qualify for Q3 but will start from seventh just days after McLaren confirmed he would not be staying with the team next year.
The Australian driver will be motivated to prove McLaren wrong with a strong performance.
Ricciardo’s team-mate Lando Norris will also be one to watch from the back of the pitch after showing solid form throughout training.