Max Verstappen may not be on pole in Belgium, but his dominating qualifying performance will set him up perfectly for the win.
As the Spa-Francorchamps track dried throughout qualifying following the earlier deluge of rain, Verstappen just about squeezed past the Q2 stage but then blitzed the shootout for pole, going more than eight-tenths faster than nearest rival Charles Leclerc.
Only it will not be pole for Verstappen, so let us get into the details of why and check out the full Belgian Grand Prix starting order…
Max Verstappen hit with five-place grid drop
Ahead of qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, brought forward to Friday on this sprint weekend, Red Bull confirmed that Verstappen had been given a new gearbox, the FIA duly confirming a five-place grid penalty as a result.
Ferrari’s Leclerc then will lead the pack away on Sunday from pole, joined on the front row by Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will head the second row, with Leclerc’s Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz keeping him company.
Oscar Piastri’s stellar qualifying display leaves him P5 on the grid, but with the unenviable task of having Verstappen alongside him, who will no doubt have his sights set on taking the lead within a matter of laps.
Piastri’s McLaren team-mate Lando Norris heads row four alongside Mercedes’ George Russell, while row five is an all-Aston Martin affair, Fernando Alonso ahead of Lance Stroll.
Leading the charge to break into the points is AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda who starts P11, while Alpine’s Pierre Gasly is P12.
Valtteri Bottas heads the seventh row, while it is a disappointing P14 for Alpine’s Esteban Ocon after a date with the barriers sealed his Q2 elimination as drivers explored the crossover between intermediate and dry tyres.
Williams’ Alex Albon lines-up P15 alongside Kevin Magnussen, who dropped back three spots as a result of impeding Leclerc.
Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu is ahead of Williams’ Logan Sargeant on row nine, while Daniel Ricciardo starts P19 in the AlphaTauri after his final Q1 lap time was deleted for track limits.
Bringing up the rear of the grid is Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg, who was helpless to avoid Q1 elimination due to a hydraulics issue. As a result, Haas opted to give Hulkenberg fresh engine components knowing that it would not affect his starting position.
F1 starting grid: 2023 Belgian Grand Prix
1. Charles Leclerc Ferrari
2. Sergio Perez Red Bull
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
4. Carlos Sainz Ferrari
5. Oscar Piastri McLaren
6. Max Verstappen Red Bull
7. Lando Norris McLaren
8. George Russell Mercedes
9. Fernando Alonso Aston Martin
10. Lance Stroll Aston Martin
11. Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri
12. Pierre Gasly Alpine
13. Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo
14. Esteban Ocon Alpine
15. Alex Albon Williams
16. Kevin Magnussen Haas
17. Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo
18. Logan Sargeant Williams
19. Daniel Ricciardo AlphaTauri
20 [pit lane] Nico Hulkenberg Haas