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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Verstappen "lucky" to survive Q2 in Belgian GP F1 qualifying

Max Verstappen says he was "lucky to be in P10" in the second part of qualifying at Formula 1's Belgian Grand Prix after scraping through on a drying track.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Verstappen set the fastest time in Friday qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps, which will be converted to sixth on the grid due to a gearbox penalty, after putting a massive eight tenths on Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the end of Q3.

But Verstappen almost didn't make it through to the top 10 shootout at all, having just dodged elimination in Q2 while the track was still wet.

A disagreement over his run plan prompted a fiery exchange with his Red Bull race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase, though the world champion later apologised for his outburst.

"It was very tight. Of course, the conditions are very tricky, the track was really drying quickly.

"And yeah, my final lap, I just didn't have that confidence in Q2 to push more. And I was very lucky to be in P10."

The track continued drying rapidly in Q3, with all drivers soon switching to soft slicks as the battle for pole looked set to depend on how late drivers could start their final laps.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

On his second set of tyres Verstappen found the confidence to smash Leclerc's benchmark in the final seconds, although his penalty means Leclerc will inherit the official pole.

"Of course, in Q3, you have two tyre sets, you know that you can push a little bit more, you can risk a little bit more. And that's what we did on that final lap," Verstappen continued.

"To be on pole again, I know that I have to drop back on Sunday with the penalty I have, but it was the best I could do today.

Verstappen also took a penalty in last year's race, going on to win the grand prix at a canter from 14th on the grid.

Red Bull's dominant 2023 pace is still leaving the Dutchman the odds-on favourite to win his third consecutive Belgian Grand Prix.

He added: "Last year I had more penalties, and we could still win the race, so that's still the target on Sunday."

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