Verstappen: Spa track changes will create "more cautious" Belgian GP start

Reigning Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen believes modifications made to the Spa circuit will create a “more cautious” start to Formula 1’s 2022 Belgian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

The Red Bull RB18 driver dominated qualifying to beat Ferrari rival Carlos Sainz by 0.632s on
Saturday, but he is set to line up in 13th place ahead of Charles Leclerc owing to grid penalties for engine and gearbox component changes.

However, the Dutch racer - who will be "disappointed" with anything less than a podium - is anticipating a more conservative start to the race than has come to be expected at Spa.

This comes in light of changes made to the circuit at the famous first corner, La Source. New for 2022, a gravel trap has replaced the asphalt run-off on the outside of the right-hander.

This enforcement of track limits, Verstappen thinks, will prompt drivers to more readily back off.

He initially joked: “You don't want to hit that [gravel trap]. I mean, it's not a rally car we are in, so you have to stay off that.

“I think [drivers will be more conservative].”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Verstappen reckoned the start of the FIA Formula 3 sprint race on Saturday morning had already set the new standard.

He continued: “I mean, you could see already in the F3 race. Normally on the old spec of the track, people would just run wide and then come back, because it let you.

“And of course, now you can't. So naturally, I think everyone will be a little bit more cautious.”

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For this year, the inside barrier into Eau Rouge has also been removed while greater run-off added on the outside for the climb to Raidillon in a bid to futureproof the corner by improving safety.

The famous Blanchimont turn has also been modified to feature a gravel trap.

Meanwhile, Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, due to start second alongside Sainz owing to the grid penalties, reckoned he will be better off not leading out of La Source in his bid to win.

The Monaco GP winner qualified a further 0.175s behind the lead Ferrari to complete the front row of the grid.

The Mexican said: “Certainly, you don't want to be leading into Eau Rouge if there's a car behind, really close by.

“But hopefully we can make the most out of it. [The plan is to] get a good start and get the lead from Carlos early on.”

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